Wednesday, November 19, 2008
In his exclusive interview with Ikhwanweb, Hamas vice Chair Musa Abu Marzuk confirmed that Hamas "is not interfering with Arab politics. In fact many of those who bet on attacking, excluding, and marginalizing it began reviewing themselves and are now starting to deal with them as a real entity for the sake of building healthier future relations."
Marzuk also said that "the Bush government had confined itself to a cage when it categorized Hamas as terrorists. We are not willing, whether in the present or future, to acknowledge Israel. And if they are willing to deal with the Arab initiative with this reservation, we will be pleased."
"Egypt has met with the different Palestinian faction representatives in Cairo to get acquainted with each faction’s vision of dealing with the current crisis. These sessions which all started in September and ended with Hamas’s meeting on October 8th were for the sake of dialogue rather than presenting final solutions," Marzuk added.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Ikhwanweb: What were the results of your meetings in Cairo? What have you reached and how far or close is it to Hamas’s vision?
Abu Marzuk: Hamas has presented a vision which respects the foundations and principles of dialogue. I don"t believe any of our Palestinian fellows, whether from Fatah or other factions, had any reservations on our basic vision as it was a true reflection of the Palestinian reality. Differences appeared, however, in approaching the problem and when conditions were imposed for dialogue. These obstacles have been the framework of all our meetings. We (Hamas), on the other hand, would raise and address every issue regardless of our assessment of the other party’s approach. We’ve always and will continue to welcome open dialogue for the sake of restoring Palestinian unity as we did in Yemen and Senegal with the mediators who came from Palestine or abroad only to find the other side turning away from us.
Ikhwanweb: How did Egyptian mediation differ this time, and how do you assess it? Is Hamas thinking of an alternative mediator?
Abu Marzuk: The difference is in the political atmosphere. In the past, we faced big obstacles such as the American Veto that the American Minister of Foreign Affairs Condoleezza Rice clearly discussed in public. Most Arab officials would tell us that there was an American objection to reconciling with Hamas and that their plan necessitated the exclusion of Hamas from Palestinian political life in every form possible. That is the only explanation to the political pressure and siege imposed on Hamas. In general, the approach used with Hamas was one that aimed at breaking its will, inciting hatred against it and spoiling its efforts. Despite these attempts everyone witnessed Hamas’s firmness and despite the harsh conditions facing the people of Gaza, people’s trust in Hamas has not been shaken, rather their support for Hamas increased because they are aware of what they are going through.
Then as the Presidential term and the accompanying attempts to defeat Hamas approached their end another issue came up regarding dealing with the renewal of Abbas’s presidential mandate and electoral merit for presidency.
The third issue is no doubt America’s changing approach not only with Palestinian opposition including Hamas but also the whole region after the failure of its "either with or against me" policy with its enemies. You’ve probably heard of the new American dialogue approach with Afghanistan. This change came especially after America’s failure in the last eight years at the economic, moral, and political levels reflected in the global financial crisis it caused, in its dealing with the poor and the region, and in its failure to achieve any of its goals through the wars it had waged in different regions of the world. Moreover, it failed to preserve its world status. Its failure further extended to Asia and Latin America. It even withdrew from the Korean Nuclear case eliminating the country from its wanted list of countries supporting terrorism.
Ikhwanweb: Say the Palestinian negotiation team actually arrives at a solution to their major problems with Israel and are only waiting for the right time to carry it out. What would be your position?
Abu Marzuk: Even if they agree on a solution it won’t succeed because in the end the Palestinian people will not be willing to give up any of their rights in the basic issues concerning Jerusalem, the refugees, and others. So, yes, renewing Palestinian dialogue in a political atmosphere that allows Cairo’s openness with us is important. Previously, the inter-Palestinian agreement that was reached in Makkah failed because it was confronted regionally, by America, and also by some Palestinians. Not to mention the Arab veto on dealing with Hamas. Some even saw that Hamas shouldn’t be considered as part of the Palestinian political system or an official entity to be dealt with by Arab countries rather working against efforts towards internal reconciliation. But, in spite of all attempts to defeat Hamas, I believe that these countries" bets have almost reached the level of despair.
Ikhwanweb: There are those who interpret and bet on Hamas’s stances for Arab and regional parties. Is that true?
Abu Marzuk: Whatever the interpretations of Hamas’s stance, vision, and ideology may be, Hamas will remain a national liberation movement aiming to restore Palestinian’s rights far from any interference in Arab politics, regimes, or countries and our experience is the best proof. Many of those who bet on these statements and on excluding Hamas began reviewing themselves and are now starting to deal with Hamas as a real entity for the sake of building healthier future relations.
Ikhwanweb: What concessions did Hamas offer to make its dialogue successful and accepted by the Arab countries?
Abu Marzuk: First, there is no longer an Arab quartet. That story which was originally Rice"s idea has ended as she failed to form an Arab moderateness axis to confront Hamas and others besides it. Secondly, and I say it clearly, we in the movement are ready to compromise on Hamas’s interests for the sake of our Palestinian people, their unity, and rights. The third matter is Hamas’s insistence on the basic rights of the Palestinian people, such as their right to resist occupation and fully restore their lands and their right to live in an independent state like all other people without any conditions. So, no matter what, we will not compromise on matters concerning the Palestinian people.
Ikhwanweb: What do you think of the presidential elections and Mahmoud Abbas’s renewal of presidency? Was this part of the agreement discussed in Cairo?
Abu Marzuk: No, we didn’t agree on anything concerning electoral merit for the presidential post or the legislative council. Hamas’s position was clearly to run elections on the scheduled date whether they were for presidential or legislative council posts. When we agreed to hold elections earlier, it was based on a bundle of solutions rather than an individual one and our position on that has not changed.
We are ready to discuss the issue of elections as part of a whole solution bundle rather than an individual matter. For example, it has been three years since the Cairo agreement and one year since the truce and no moves have yet been taken concerning the issue of the liberation organization. Another example is the Makkah agreement which resulted in the formation of a national unity government rather than the pure-Hamas government, but forgot to address the issues of participation and security, a matter which led to the re-explosion of the situation. Even the truce was interpreted as limited to only ending military operations and didn"t include the right of Palestinians to open border crossing points and to have the siege lifted off them, in spite of these rights being included in the truce agreement.
Ikhwanweb: How can the Palestinian people be re-united after the36which took place in Gaza?
Abu Marzuk: First, this situation not only took place in the Gaza strip, but also extended to the West Bank. It is a big issue with political and legal dimensions that need to be addressed such as the presidential protocols, decisions, and laws that were made here and there. There are also grievances from both sides that must be resolved.
Ikhwanweb: What is the real story behind the Hamas cells found with arms in more than one place?
Abu Marzuk: That’s untrue. If the amount of bullets, ammunition, and explosives were really that much, Israelis would have been the first to handle it, not the public investigations. But Israelis know that’s not true and therefore will not take it seriously. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to carry out resistance operations. On the contrary, we strive to do such operations. But then if that’s untrue, what’s the aim of that lie, anyway? I believe that there is a team especially from the security apparatus trying to prevent agreements from being reached. We know that Israel doesn’t want to reach any agreements and that many security officials are agents of Israeli policy on the issue of future agreements and don’t want the security issue in the West Bank to be addressed during dialogue. Instead, they want to limit dealing with this matter in Gaza within a year and four months which is impossible.
Ikhwanweb: Some criticize Hamas for their firm manner with security issues such as in Sabra, Hayy El-Shuja’iyyah, Muraba" Al-Daghmish, and Muraba’ Hals?
Abu Marzuk: Every incident had its own circumstances, and a lot can be said about every one of them. We know very well that Muraba" Al-Daghmish was a problem for many years. Streets next to the families" houses were closed for more than ten years; many among the people of Gaza had been driven out of this neighborhood; and there was the issue of the rifle for rent in that neighborhood which led to the increase of killing incidents that continued during and following Hamas"s reign. The most recent incident was the killing of the Gaza Court internal security official. All observers knew that the Daghmish family was in one instance taking sides with El-Mashharawy and in another with Hamas. We were able to finally handle the situation using force, although we did not prefer it, after all other methods failed and citizens started feeling more secure.
Ikhwanweb:What about the political prisoners in Gaza?
Abu Marzuk: Hamas had freed all political prisoners in Gaza and didn’t wait for anything in return. This is the way we deal with our people, even if they were perpetrators of the law or leaders in Fatah or other parties. And when Fatah decided to run elections in Gaza we protected the centers to ensure the optimal success of the election process. If you compare between the situation in Gaza and the West Bank you’ll find how in the latter people are being hunted down and oppressed, including women and children, and how institutions, societies, zakah committees, clubs, and centers are being shut down.
Ikhwanweb: How does Hamas deal with Fatah in Gaza, and do you consider the latter a banned movement?
Abu Marzuk: No, Fatah carries out its activities, meetings, and propaganda as all other existing movements. This summer it held36and organizational meetings and none of that was prevented. But if there are plans for bombings or security disturbance, then Hamas deals with the crime according to its level of seriousness.
In Gaza, Fatah carries out its activities freely, but no doubt those who escaped from Gaza in Ramallah and Cairo are plotting and inciting hatred against us through the distribution of money and weapons, but we are dealing with this issue very cautiously. Undoubtedly, though, they have lost hope in uniting themselves against Hamas and overthrowing them as in the end they don’t want any real stability in Gaza but rather chaos in any form.
Ikhwanweb: How do you view the execution of the security plan in Nablus, Genin, and Khalil?
Abu Marzuk: What we know is that those who have authority over the West Bank are three: the Israeli army, the Palestinian security apparatus, and the American Consul who follows up on all the security files whether they are concerned with the training outside the West Bank, arming, following up on plans and programs, or hunting down the infrastructure.
In fact, this is verified in a report published by one of the Israeli papers that discussed a meeting held in the West Bank between the Palestinian security leaders and their Israeli peers. The report revealed security officers boasting when they were ordered to close 150 accounts they would close 300 and when they were ordered to close 50 institutions they would close 100 and when they were ordered to detain one or two people they would detain tens of people. I’m definite that Israelis are not satisfied with this low rank of people who seek their pleasure at the expense of their nation, religion, and morals.
Ikhwanweb: At what point have you reached in the prisoner exchange agreement intermediated by Egypt with Israel? Is it true that some of the names have been vetoed?
Abu Marzuk: The prisoner exchange issue concerns every Palestinian family because we’re talking about 11,000 prisoners, hundreds of them sentenced to long prison terms. This is by all means a human crisis, but we can"t say that the whole issue is the responsibility of Hamas but it has become the Palestinian people’s responsibility. As we hear everyday our dear sisters in prison looking forward to their release we don’t want to let them down. We mentioned that in this agreement intermediated by Egypt we had decided to release 1000 prisoners at different stages, 450 determined by Hamas and approved by Israel and 550 determined by Israel and approved by Hamas. Those are in addition to all the women and all those that were under the age of 18 when detained who add up to about 400 and that was agreed upon as well. However, Israel went back on its word and started to deviate from the course of negotiations bringing up the issue at the political and official levels to turn the course of negotiations and mix issues to put more pressure on Hamas so that it could change its position.
Ikhwanweb: What is your response to the European position concerning the European laws that ban dealing with resistance movements and those that carry out martyrdom operations?
Abu Marzuk: They are politically functionalizing their vision of the Palestinian issue. But we believe that France wouldn’t have gained its independence from the Nazi occupation if it weren’t for the French resistance and Russians wouldn’t have been able to drive out the Germans without Russian resistance. Thus, resistance is our natural right even if they do not acknowledge it, although they must acknowledge it to leave our land and let our people live like the rest. It is not fair that Palestinians be misplaced and left to live in tents and that our people be the only ones deprived from their land and country. Europe must realize that it is our right to adopt any means for ending occupation and they know that putting us under the terrorist category is not their choice but America’s because America’s policies are ….and not based on a good understanding of the region nor the problem. Moreover, America is controlled by the Zionist lobby and often you’d find American policies more radical than Israeli.
Ikhwanweb: What is your response to those Palestinians who say that Hamas has proved that its aim is to reach power and that its resistance is only a disguise?
Abu Marzuk: First of all, if we were seeking power, then what is Fattah’s aim? Do they not want power? If they have the right to pursue power, then why should others be deprived of it? Then, what determines who will be in power or who will not? Is it the long glorious history of struggle or the manipulation of Palestinians" rights and support of a foreign power? Is it an Israeli-American decision? Who should make that decision of who should be in power and who should not? If it should be the will of the Palestinian people, then they were the ones who handed authority over to Hamas.
Secondly, Hamas never abandoned resistance. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have kept any prisoners of war. Moreover, it wouldn’t have signed a peace truce with Israel which indicates the existence and continuance
of a resisting party. Why then is there no peace truce between Abbas’s consultant Yasser Abd Rabbuh and Israel? Because he has actually adopted the non-resistance and, in fact, anti-resistance approach.
Ikhwanweb: Do you believe that Hamas has carried out its program?
Abu Marzuk: No, I believe that Hamas did not carry out its program because it has not been allowed to. From the first day of its authority, it was confronted with a regional, American, Israeli, and even Fatah veto.
Ikhwanweb: What is your vision of the future in light of the Palestinian presidential merits, departure of the Bush administration, and the rise of the Israeli rightist wing?
Abu Marzuk: We can’t only bet on the enemy’s failure or the change of Israeli officials. Our real problem lies in the necessity of restoring Palestinian unity, not only between the West Bank and Gaza. There must be only one leader with a comprehensive national program and who will revive the issue of the liberation organization. Otherwise we will not be able to achieve anything in our current situation. We need to bring the national project back on its course.
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