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By Stuart Littlewood –

Mr. Khaled Misha'l - Resistance Movement -- (Hamas) Political Bureau

“Negotiation today does not serve the Palestinian side… Just as there is currently no parity in the field of confrontation, there is also no parity around the negotiating table,” says Mesh’al

Hamas have been criticised recently for dragging their feet over the need to re-think their image.

They now seem to have at least made a start on this important task judging by a remarkable interview with Hamas chief Khaled Mesh’al by the Jordanian Arabic-language Al-Sabeel newspaper in July 2010 and translated into english by The Afro-Middle East Centre AMEC.

http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/articles/middle-east/1491-khaled-meshal-lays-out-new-hamas-policy-direction

Headed ‘Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction’, the interview runs to 14,000 words and is not an easy read unless you find yourself on a long train journey without an attractive companion.

Nevertheless it makes a real effort to begin the process of ‘coming in from the cold’ and deserves a wide audience.

I hope Mr Mesh’al won’t mind too much if, for convenience, I reduce his lengthy and carefully worded position statement – for that is what it is – to a few bullet-points…

  • Hamas is a grassroots movement rather than a military group which exists to serve the interests of Palestinians at home and abroad. It is also a national liberation movement with resistance its main tool.

  • Hamas’s objective is ending the Zionist occupation and restoring Palestinian rights. Resistance is the means of achieving this.

  • Hamas only employ “legitimate resistance” – i.e. against the enemy occupying Palestinian land and holy places. They do not use resistance against their enemy’s allies who supply the weapons and munitions used to kill Palestinians. Nor do they extend resistance outside Palestine.

  • Resistance is a realistic option for Hamas. It has succeeded in removing the occupier from southern Lebanon and Gaza and is clearly effective in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Armed resistance against Israel is the result of Israeli occupation, injustice and oppression, not religious differences.

  • In Palestine there is a ‘special relationship’ between Muslims and Christians and they are united in the defence of Jerusalem and the cause.

  • Women are playing a wider role at the organizational level in Hamas.

  • Hamas believe that negotiations right now would only benefit Israel. Peace cannot be made when one party is so powerful and the other so weak. For the Palestinians negotiation under these circumstances means surrender.

  • Hamas do not recognise Israel. Doing so would effectively legitimize the occupation and the rest of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Such recognition would be unacceptable in terms of international law and human values.

  • Israel’s drip-drip demand for recognition is a sign of weakness bordering on an admission of illegitimacy.

  • Hamas is not looking for recognition by the West. It already has the legitimacy of the ballot box and its long struggle for justice.

  • Hamas aim to promote their just cause and win more friends internationally to support their legitimate right to resist the occupation.

  • There will be no peace in the region until the powers deal with Hamas and respect their interests and rights and quit favouring Israel at Palestine’s expense.

  • Hamas believe the Zionist entity is weakening and its “Greater Israel’ project is doomed. Israel is in a state of moral collapse and its ugly face has been exposed. Reading all the signs it is unnecessary to bow to demands to negotiate a political settlement.

  • Hamas are in no great hurry. They’ll wait.

It will be hard for western readers, unless they are dyed-in-the-wool Israel stooges, to find much that’s objectionable in the new policy. Given the decades-long suffering and the 90 years of betrayal, many will feel it makes perfect sense from the Palestinian perspective. So it is a powerful weapon – or would be if edited down to a manageable size and presented as a discussion document or released as a promotional leaflet.

Mesh’al is at pains to explain that resistance is a means not an end; it is a strategic tool for liberation and the backbone of their working system. He introduces a chilling note, however, in the context of jihad and the struggle when he talks about innovative methods, tactics and tools “such as expanding martyrdom operations and developing them to become a lethal weapon against the enemy, and striking deep at its security”.

And this is where he nearly derails himself. People who were with him up to that point are likely to leave in droves. Saying such a thing is shocking to western ears and Mesh’al is committing public relations suicide if he doesn’t ruthlessly blue-pencil that bit.

Right now negotiation is “a fruitless gamble”

Addressing the thorny question whether Abbas, a minority factional leader propped up by the US and Israel, should be negotiating with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, Mesh’al scores some good points: “Negotiation needs to be based on unity at a national level. If one party sees benefit in a certain step towards negotiation, and pursues such a decision alone and without referring to the people, they will be placing themselves in a difficult situation and will grant the enemy an opportunity which it will certainly use against them…

“Negotiation today – under the current balance of power – is in the service of the enemy, and does not serve the Palestinian side. The conflict on the ground has not developed in a manner that has forced the Zionist enemy to resort to negotiation; it refuses to this day to withdraw from the land, and does not recognise Palestinian rights. Thus negotiation in such conditions is a kind of fruitless gamble.

“Israel is exploiting negotiations to normalise its relations with the Arab and Islamic world and to penetrate it, and to distort the nature of the conflict; Israel is the sole beneficiary of the negotiations as they stand…

“Just as there is currently no parity in the field of confrontation, there is also no parity around the negotiating table.”

As regards the mantra endlessly mouthed by western powers that Hamas must recognize Israel, Mesh’al says: “We refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Israel because we refuse to recognise the legitimacy of occupation and theft of land.”

Well, who can argue with that?

He makes a nice point about religion and how this is not the driver of resistance: “For us, religion is a cornerstone to our lives, belonging and identity, our culture and our daily actions; it is the energy that promotes patience and steadfastness, and gives rise to more sacrifice and generosity. This is a tremendous energy in the face of injustice, aggression and the powers seeking to harm our people and our nation. But we do not make of religion a force for engendering hatred, nor a cause or a pretext for harming and assaulting others, or grabbing what is not ours, or encroaching on the rights of others.”

Mesh’al points to how Palestine is famed for coexistence and tolerance among all faiths, and to illustrate the relationship between Muslim and Christian he quotes a verse from the Qur’an: “You will surely find that, of all people, the most hostile to those who believe are the Jews and those who are polytheists; and you will certainly find that, of all people, the nearest in friendship to those who believe are those who say: ‘We are Christians.’”

Looking ahead, Mesh’al acknowledges Israel’s military might but points to its increasing failures.  “Yes, it is capable of waging war, but it has long been unable to achieve victory.”

The Greater Israel project is dead, he says, “because the Zionist enemy is no longer able to accomplish it, and because Israel continues on the same path as did apartheid South Africa”.

Hamas see no quick fix but are sounding pretty upbeat. Are they deluding themselves?

Perhaps the answer lies in this appealing little saying from the Qur’an, which ends the interview: “For it is by turns that We apportion unto people such days of fortune and misfortune”.


Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk

See:

Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction

11 Comments

  1. Rehmat on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Anyone, who is not duped by Zionists’ lies – knows that negotiating with someone who had betrayed all its friends (UK, US, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Islamic Iran) is acting like a fool who cannot differentiate between a robber and a peace-seeker.

    Having said that I would like to clarify some point raised by Mr. Littlewood.

    1. Hamas is not a “national (Arabism)” resistance like the PLO. The later failed because being a ‘nationalist and secularist’ movement – it failed to receive the support of the Muslim Ummah. Hamas is receiving support from both Muslims and non-Muslims because of its morally-oriented leadership and the resistance fighters who try to constrain themselves by not acting like Zionazi Jew soldiers, leaders and rabbis.

    2. Palestinian who were given 47% of their ancestral land by the British occupation authorities in 1947 – are left with 22% of the land and that too under Jewish boots. If some idiots still advice the Palestinians to carry ‘peaceful resistance’ – they mean that allow some time to the Jews to grab that 22% of the remaining land too.

    3. No aggressor has vacated the occupied land without a military resistan in the modern history, with the exception of China which withdrew its forces from India after capturing a much greater land than Israel in 1950s. Therefore, Hamas must carry-on the military resistance while being prepared to negotiate with leaders who understand their ppoint of views.

    4. Most of the Western countries are governed by Zionist Jews or Zionist Christians. Therefore, Hamas should forget about western recognition. Hizbullah has never given a hoot to what the West think about it. However, Hizbullah’s military achievements against the ‘mighty’ Jewish army (2000 and 2006) and good diplomacy has brought many countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East and North America closer to it.

    5. Not only Hamas – but many intellectuals within Israel and the West agree that the Zionist is isolated from most of the world and is hated by the majority of world population. That’s why in desperation the Zionist thugs are bringing up new Islamophobe issues every day – from Cordoba House to burning of Holy Qur’an on September 11, 2010.

    And finall – Can Hamas be beaten?

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/can-hamas-be-beaten/

  2. Israeli on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    The more I read this articles the more I understand that Anti-Zionizm is a kind of pathological mental condition when a person ignores known facts that contradict it’s position.

    I find it amazing that people who have no slightest clue about what’s going on are writing “analytic” articles and even are getting paid for that.

    “Israel’s drip-drip demand for recognition is a sign of weakness bordering on an admission of illegitimacy.”
    Yeah, you are absolutely right. A sign of power would be to wipe entire Hamas, along with few thousands of Palestinians.

    During last Gaza war these brave freedom fighters were hiding in hospitals. It was rumored that they dressed into woman’s cloths, so to save their lives should IDF assault the hospital.
    Probably this is the wider role for the women at the organizational level in Hamas.

    “Palestinian who were given 47% of their ancestral land by the British occupation authorities in 1947 – are left with 22% of the land and that too under Jewish boots. If some idiots still advice the Palestinians to carry ‘peaceful resistance’ – they mean that allow some time to the Jews to grab that 22% of the remaining land too.”
    Hmmm. and where is another 53% ?
    Oh, I know, it belongs to Jordan now.
    But why won’t palestinians try and get it back from Jordanians? Oh, I know that too, because Jordanians are smart enough just to kill all protesters, as they’ve done back in 1978. In less than a month they’ve killed more pallys than Israelis did in all 60 years. A lesson learned well enough and there’s no “freedom” movement of any kind in Jordan.

    P.S. “knows that negotiating with someone who had betrayed all its friends (UK, US, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Islamic Iran)” apparently you are pointing towards Israel.
    I just wonder when exactly have Israel had betrayed all of it’s friends?

  3. Rehmat on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Israeli – you’re no better idiot than the tens of thousands of Israeli hasbara recruits.

    How can you expect your Jewish army to destroy Hamas or any other resistance fore. Don’t you Zionazis learned how less than 1,000 Hizbullah fighters rubbed the noses of 30,000 Jew soldiers in Summer 2006?

    Israeli – are you saying that the firstever an american couple electricuted for selling nuclear secrets to Russia – Julius and ethel rosenberg were not Jews? OR Jonathan Pollard currently serving life sentence for stealing close to one million US secrets and passing on to Zionist entity – is not Jewish OR it were Israeli Jews who were arrested dancing in front of the falling WTC??

    But, I know talking to some professional liar like you is even worse than talking to your Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

    Study: Israelis prefer to live in ‘self-denial’
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/study-israelis-prefer-to-live-in-self-denial/

  4. Debbie on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    @Israeli

    You have the audacity to comment on this site.

    “I just wonder when exactly have Israel had betrayed all of it’s friends?”

    You need to educate yourself or stop pretending that you possess the moral high ground.

    Unless you are really thick skinned you will not return to this site after reading through the archives here:

    ‘Friendship is a Two-Way Street’ Australian Foreign Minister tells Israel
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/05/friendship-is-a-two-way-street-australian-foreign-minister-tells-israel/

    An open letter to Australian Minister Stephen Smith
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/05/an-open-letter-to-australian-minister-stephen-smith/

    International arrest warrants awaiting scores of top-ranking Israeli officials
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/04/international-arrest-warrants-awaiting-scores-of-top-ranking-israeli-officials/

    Our Enemies, the Israelis: When will we wake up to the threat?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/our-enemies-the-israelis-when-will-we-wake-up-to-the-threat/

    Australian Parliament : Julia Irwin MP’s Adjournment debate speech and Minister Craig Emerson’s reply 16June10
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/australian-parliament-julia-irwin-mp%e2%80%99s-adjournment-debate-speech-and-minister-craig-emerson%e2%80%99s-reply-16june10/

    JEFF GATES — When Will We See the Next Mass Murder?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/09/jeff-gates-when-will-we-see-the-next-mass-murder/

    PHILIP GIRALDI– Mossad pretends to be U.S. Intelligence
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/philip-giraldi-mossad-pretends-to-be-u-s-intelligence/

    PHILIP GIRALDI: Israeli Mossad Spying in America
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/philip-giraldi-israeli-mossad-spying-in-america/

    GORDON DUFF: 9/11 PLANNERS CONFESS ON NETWORK TELEVISION
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/gordon-duff-911-planners-confess-on-network-television/

    Declassified: Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/declassified-massive-israeli-manipulation-of-us-media-exposed/

    RAIMONDO: Caught on tape: what the Israelis really think of us
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/07/raimondo-bibi-unmasked/

    If HAMAS is a Terrorist Organization, What Does That Make Israel?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/07/if-hamas-is-a-terrorist-organization-what-does-that-make-israel/

    Lives Lived and Lost in Time—Remembering Shatila
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/lives-lived-and-lost-in-time%e2%80%94remembering-shatila/

    A Global Civil Society Campaign to De-Legitimise Israel?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/a-global-civil-society-campaign-to-de-legitimise-israel/

    A Nation Born in Deception
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/04/a-nation-born-in-deception/

    and last but not the least watch this video for the truth:

    Anthony Lawson – Gaza in Plain Language
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFK5TNcmEmg&feature=player_embedded&aia=true

    and don’t you dare come back here again, unless you’ve converted.

  5. Debbie on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    @Israeli

    You have the audacity to comment on this site.

    “I just wonder when exactly have Israel had betrayed all of it’s friends?”

    You need to educate yourself or stop pretending that you possess the moral high ground.

    Unless you are really thick skinned you will not return to this site after reading through the archives here:

    ‘Friendship is a Two-Way Street’ Australian Foreign Minister tells Israel
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/05/friendship-is-a-two-way-street-australian-foreign-minister-tells-israel/

    An open letter to Australian Minister Stephen Smith
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/05/an-open-letter-to-australian-minister-stephen-smith/

    International arrest warrants awaiting scores of top-ranking Israeli officials
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/04/international-arrest-warrants-awaiting-scores-of-top-ranking-israeli-officials/

    Our Enemies, the Israelis: When will we wake up to the threat?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/our-enemies-the-israelis-when-will-we-wake-up-to-the-threat/

    Australian Parliament : Julia Irwin MP’s Adjournment debate speech and Minister Craig Emerson’s reply 16June10
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/australian-parliament-julia-irwin-mp%e2%80%99s-adjournment-debate-speech-and-minister-craig-emerson%e2%80%99s-reply-16june10/

    JEFF GATES — When Will We See the Next Mass Murder?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/09/jeff-gates-when-will-we-see-the-next-mass-murder/

    PHILIP GIRALDI– Mossad pretends to be U.S. Intelligence
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/philip-giraldi-mossad-pretends-to-be-u-s-intelligence/

    PHILIP GIRALDI: Israeli Mossad Spying in America
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/philip-giraldi-israeli-mossad-spying-in-america/

    GORDON DUFF: 9/11 PLANNERS CONFESS ON NETWORK TELEVISION
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/gordon-duff-911-planners-confess-on-network-television/

    Declassified: Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/08/declassified-massive-israeli-manipulation-of-us-media-exposed/

    RAIMONDO: Caught on tape: what the Israelis really think of us
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/07/raimondo-bibi-unmasked/

    If HAMAS is a Terrorist Organization, What Does That Make Israel?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/07/if-hamas-is-a-terrorist-organization-what-does-that-make-israel/

    Lives Lived and Lost in Time—Remembering Shatila
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/lives-lived-and-lost-in-time%e2%80%94remembering-shatila/

    A Global Civil Society Campaign to De-Legitimise Israel?
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/a-global-civil-society-campaign-to-de-legitimise-israel/

    A Nation Born in Deception
    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/04/a-nation-born-in-deception/

    and last but not the least watch this video for the truth:

    Anthony Lawson – Gaza in Plain Language
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFK5TNcmEmg&feature=player_embedded&aia=true

    and don’t you dare come back here unless you have converted!

  6. Noisy Tappet on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Hang on there, Rehmat. I know we have a lot to answer for but please don’t blame us Brits for EVERYTHING. It was the UN, with much arm-twisting by America, that handed over half of historic Palestine to the Jews. You’d think they would be grateful for such largesse but the greedy b@st@rds want MORE… and MORE!

  7. Satya on the 09. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Thank you for the bullet points (unfortunate expression in the circumstances) but I must take issue with your comment:-

    “And this is where he nearly derails himself. People who were with him up to that point are likely to leave in droves. Saying such a thing is shocking to western ears and Mesh’al is committing public relations suicide if he doesn’t ruthlessly blue-pencil that bit.”

    Please could you explain why a totally repressed people should not fight back by any means possible when their aggressors have such overwhelming force AND USE IT AGAINST A DULY ELECTED government of Palestine on a regular basis?

    Are you implying that ‘western ears’ will condone the use of US/Israeli napalm/phosphorus bombs against Gaza but not home made rockets that never do much damage or martyrs sick to death of oppression and devastation?

    This seems very one-sided.

    As for ‘israeli’ above – it sounds like a Regev clone still whining ‘woe, woe, poor me’ whilst being GIVEN 3billion$ a year to kill, maim, degrade and dispossess Palestinians.

  8. Ravage on the 10. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Israel has constantly been playing a plea-bargain game with the West, acknowledging de-facto its criminal position in its region of settlement ( service of the same West . The same West which still would like to have the local wronged party accept the sweeping under the carpet of all those disagreeable consequences for Western consciences.
    Lets the rape and arson continue, but please let it be silent and subdued from the suffering side..!
    Preposterous wouldn’t you say..?
    It’s not even compromise being asked for here, its total one sided surrender.

  9. Jay C. on the 10. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    israel’s tactic is to keep ‘em talking to put up the illusion of “progress” in order to BUY time to STEAL more land and ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their land. http://www.ROBINCMILLER.com/pales2.htm This is all part of their quest for greater israel. http://www.NOWARFORISRAEL.com

  10. Dawoodi Morkas on the 10. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Arafat was coerced into signing the legitimacy of Israel as a State in his dying days, courtesy of course, USA, but pressured from Arab supporters of Arafat, mainly the Saudis.

    Abbas at time was a good soldier, he turned bad with his increased contacts and submission to the USA, in the hope that he would ultimately be the leader who will get a Palestinian State, as he thought that USA was in Oslo, and that guaranteed what he was signing, the document was bulldozed by the Israelis, down came the (mouse), Abbas, Hickory Dickery Dock.

    Hickory dickery dock, the mouse went up the clock, the clock struck one, down came the mouse, Hickory dickery dock.

    Hamas was the outcome of the adamant behavior of Israel, and undue pressure from USA for Arab submission. We must salute Iran, which came to the aid of a loose group of people and made them into a force, that the world now recons as legitimate voice of the Palestinians.

    Me’shel in Palestine and Nasser in Lebanon, are no small heroes. CIA has more then a billion dollar budget on their surveillances and activity report. A country which has seen the worst of recession and up in troubles is being harassed by Iran supporters, what a joke, on the face of it, but it is a reality that Me’shal, has turned the table on the USA strategy of mauling the Palestinians in favor of Israel and USA think tanks know that what ever the outcome of the negotiation at Washington, unless Hamas endorses the document there is never going to be lasting peace.

  11. Stuart on the 11. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Satya, your question deserves an answer. Those living through the hell of the Holy Land understand what drives martyrdom, but people in the leafy suburbs of England (and presumably the US) far removed from the reality recoil in horror. And these are the people to be won over. They are much happier to see ‘conventional’ weapons used, however horrific and indiscriminate. Suicide bombing is identified with ‘terrorism’ and regarded completely beyond the Pale, and Israel’s hasbara machine endlessly exploits this to ensure any ideas about talking with Hamas are rejected at Westminster. Remember the price paid by MP Jenny Tonge just for expressing empathy.

    Mesh’al says he wants to reach out and make friends internationally. If he threatens more martyrdom he’ll only hand Regev & co more ammunition. If that’s what Hamas are planning they should keep it to themselves. It cannot be part of an effective re-branding message.

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