Transcript: Interview With Khaled Meshal of Hamas
Following are translated excerpts from an interview with Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, in his office in Damascus on May 3rd and 4th: He spoke in Arabic.
Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets (May 5, 2009)
On the Hamas Charter and a Palestinian State:
The most important thing is what Hamas is doing and the policies it is adopting today. The world must deal with what Hamas is practicing today. Hamas has accepted the national reconciliation document. It has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders including East Jerusalem, dismantling settlements, and the right of return based on a long term truce. Hamas has represented a clear political program through a unity government. This is Hamas’s program regardless of the historic documents. Hamas has offered a vision. Therefore, it’s not logical for the international community to get stuck on sentences written 20 years ago. It’s not logical for the international community to judge Hamas based on these sentences and stay silent when Israel destroys and kills our people.
On the Decision to Stop Firing Rockets:
There is a mistake committed by some international parties. They regard the firing of the rockets from Gaza as the starting point followed by the Israel response. It's the opposite. Israel is practicing the occupation. Israel is controlling every aspect of Palestinian life. Israel is imposing the siege. Israel is starting things and therefore you have the reaction. Palestinians defend themselves through firing the rockets. Israel is responsible.
Not targeting civilians is part of an evaluation of the movement to serve the people's interest. Firing these rockets is a method and not the goal. The right to resist the occupation is a legitimate right but practicing this right is decided by the leadership within the movement.
Resisting is based on evaluation and timing that take into consideration the following: Maintain the right to resist and to respond to the occupation, keeping in mind the interest of our people and the hardship they are going through and exposing the reality of the Israeli aggression and its policies.
On Hamas's Goals:
The central goal is the liberation of the occupied land and regaining our rights, ending the Israeli occupation, leading our people toward liberation and freedom, achieving the right of self-determination and living in a sovereign state on liberated land. This is the goal for our people to live without occupation, away from the killing.
Until we achieve this goal, we will work hard to serve the Palestinian people in all fields: social, economic, humanitarian in order to alleviate the suffering, implement the reform program to fight corruption, strengthen the democratic life in the political system in the frame of Palestinian Authority and the PLO, unify Palestinians inside and outside for all to work toward one goal that is serving the national cause, and .strengthen the relationship between the Palestinian people and the Arab/Islamic world.
On the Type of Government Hamas Seeks:
The priority is ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the national project. The nature of the system is left for the people to choose. As the people choose their representatives, they will choose their program too.
On President Obama:
There is no doubt that he is speaking a different language. Such language is not only necessary to the international community but also to the American administration after the heavy burden that was caused by the Bush administration and the neoconservatives.
Obama has been clear with his intention regarding a few issues: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran. He has given a different speech to the Islamic world through the Turkish gate. But frankly when it comes to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, we have still not seen a fundamental change either on the level of action or on the level of language. When it comes to Obama, his language is different and positive. When it comes to Hillary it's the opposite. She is returning to the previous administration of Bush,. especially when repeating the Quartet conditions as a condition for reaching Palestinian reconciliation. Her repetition has led to harming the Palestinian dialogue and obstructing it from reaching success to end the Palestinian division.
On Secretary of State Clinton's Proposal to Hamas to Join a Government That Is Similar to the Lebanese Model in Which Hezbollah Is a Member of a Government That Accepts the Arab Peace Initiative Without Itself Relinquishing Its Resistance Card:
Any party that wins the majority should get to implement its program. That is the logic of elections. Is Obama implementing the Republican program? When it comes to Hezbollah, if a party doesn't enjoy a majority and is being asked to participate , it's the party's right to say yes or no to the nature of the program. Hamas got the majority vote and the international community must respect the people's will.
On National Dialogue with Fatah:
We have suggested a way out and have proposed it during the Cairo talks. The national unity government should be based on what was agreed upon in Cairo in 2005 and during the Mecca talks in 2007 and the national reconciliation document of 2006. Hamas and Fatah have accepted all of that and signed on them. It's the logical way out sponsored by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Another way out that was proposed by Hamas is a temporary unity government without a political program till the next election. Why impose conditions? Both options have been rejected, which shows there is no intention and the external interference by the U.S., Israel and the Quartet is hindering the ending of the Palestinian division. The Quartet's conditions are not logical.
Hamas will continue its efforts to reaching reconciliation. We will be flexible with all ideas.
On a Truce With Israel and the Release of Captured Israeli Soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit:
[Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert is behind the failure to reach an agreement over the truce and Shalit. We are ready to finalize both agreements regarding the truce and Shalit at the same time. They go in parallel but they are not to be mixed together. Each is separate from the other.
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