Indian Muslim Leading Newspaper, New from India, Islam, World
32 pages, Twice a month. Subscribe Now.  (RNI DELENG/2000/930; ISSN 0972-3366)


 
Since Jan 2000

Cartoons .  Special Reports . National  . Issues . Community News Letters to the Editor  . Matrimonials . Latest Indian Muslim Statements . Book Store ++

Home 
Search
Subscribe Online
Archives

About Us
Cartoons

Online Book Store  
E-Greetings

Jobs @ MG

Advertise on MG
Our Team
Contact Us

Muslim Matrimonials
Our Advertisers

Add to your RSS reader - Indian Muslim Islamic News online media web site

»  Lastest Indian Muslim 
Statements & 
Press Release
s
Google
Web (WWW) OR  
only MG

  q
» Tell me when the next issue comes online:

Unsubscribe

 

 

  q

__________________

If you haven't seen the print edition,
you've 

missed it ALL

send me the print edition
__________________

  q

Posted Online on Friday, 28 Sep 2007 22:55 IST

Published in the 1-15 October 2007 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Subscribe to the PRINT edition NOW: Get the COMPLETE picture

Muslim Islamic NewsHamas supremo Khalid Mish'al: "Balance Has Moved in Favour of Palestinians"

By Zafarul-Islam Khan

The Milli Gazette

Damascus: MG Editor spoke to Hamas politbureau chief Khalid Mish’al in his Damascus office. In this first-ever interview to an Indian publication, Hamas chief answered candidly to some very embarrassing questions clarifying why Hamas took part in elections before liberation of the occupied lands, why it took over Gaza, what is the reality of the accusations levelled against Hamas and what is the common minimum programme of all Palestinians. He said that the balance of power is shifting towards the Palestinians and Israel is no longer able to force its will on the Palestinians. He said that there have been attempts to start a dialogue between Hamas and Fateh but the Palestinian Authority did not allow it. He also spelt out the six principles for a solution to the current imbroglio. He said that Hamas is committed to the common minimum programme agreed by Palestinian factions which is: to establish the Palestinian state within the areas of 1967 on the borders prevailing on the 4th of June 1967 including Jerusalem. right to return - not right to return to the Palestinian State as some in the region explain it but the right to return to the towns and villages taken away from the Palestinian people. Here is the full text of the interview:

Khalid Mish’al (right) talking to Zafarul-Islam Khan

Khalid Mish’al (right) talking to Zafarul-Islam Khan

 

Zafarul-Islam Khan: To start with, does Hamas maintain any relations with the Indian government, even through the Indian mission in Gaza? Has Hamas ever tried to explain its stands to the Indian people?
Khalid Mish’al: We are careful to cultivate good relations with all countries of the world. This is because ours is a just Arab, Islamic and humane cause. We have been trying for some time to establish relations with a number of countries including India which is a big country with considerable weight in both Asia and the world. There is no clear shape yet of this relationship. We hope that our efforts will lead to establishing a relationship with India whose weight in the international arena is known to us. We want good relations with India and all other countries so that the world may support our rights and pressurise Israel to end its illegal occupation of our land.

Hamas is the “Islamic Resistance Movement of Palestine.” In other words, its real aim is to resist occupation and liberate the usurped and occupied land. Why then, Hamas decided to participate in elections while the homeland still remains unliberated? Why it made the same mistake committed earlier by the PLO when it decided to move from the stage of “revolution” to the stage of a “State” and now it is clear that it did not achieve anything except to deepen and prolong the occupation as this change allowed the occupier to wash his hand off the problems of the occupied areas while the occupation itself remains intact, making occupied areas real prisons.
Our outlook and beliefs haven't changed. We believe that the top priority is for resistance, liberation and retrieval of rights. We are a movement of national liberation and self-determination. This is our priority and only after this come state and power. This belief in the priorities has not changed. We have found fault in those PLO factions which changed their priorities. They placed the cart in front of the horse and started talking about “power” before achieving freedom, liberation and sovereignty of the occupied land. There is no state without sovereignty over the land. This is why we from the beginning of Oslo refused to join the game. But later the Authority became a fact of life. The Authority came via Oslo in 1994. Many years have passed since , during which the Authority became a fait accompli. It is now ruling the Palestinian people and controls their daily lives. This Authority, because of its evils and the mistakes committed in the political, financial and security fields and its stand against resistance during the past years, exhausted the Palestinian people who started demanding that Hamas play a political role to correct and change and to fight corruption. This was not to be a substitute to resistance but was to take place alongside resistance. When we participated in the elections we did not do it because we had changed our basic assumptions which say that our first priority is resistance and liberation and not gaining power. Our decision was not because we were forsaking resistance. Instead, we took this decision because the Authority had become a fact of life and we had to deal with it and correct its evils in order to ease the burden on our people. Hamas entered politics so that the Palestinian people may continue resistance. Our basic assumption continues that the top priority is for liberation and that there should be no talk of a real state or real power or real authority except after we achieve sovereignty which comes only after liberation of the homeland. This change in our course was not due to a change in our perspective. Rather, it was for the sake of the people after the Authority became a fact of life and its corruption became common knowledge. We wanted to ease people’s suffering. 

I will return to this issue later as the result was not what Hamas wanted to achieve in the first place...
No problem, but we can continue with this issue...

The result was not what you desired as we have seen from this experiment. What really happened is that the occupying authority and the occupier exploited this opportunity to lay complete siege on Gaza Strip and now the people in Gaza are in real trouble with regard to basic needs of life. In other words, it is possible to say that you have fallen in a trap and I do not know how you plan to come out of this trap?
Look, the issue is not a trap, dear brother. What happened since our winning elections last year, 2006, has exposed the real nature of our problem. The US and Israel wanted the Authority, which came out of Oslo [agreements], to be an autonomous authority committed to stop resistance and bound by security obligations towards Israel. The US and Israel did not accept Hamas coming to power through the ballot box because they do not want an authority committed to resistance. They do not want an authority which safeguards the security of its people instead of taking care of the security of Israel. They want an authority which does not permit resistance. The American and Israeli plan for Oslo was that the authority emerging out of it will be anti-resistance, that it will go after the freedom fighters and will guarantee the security of Israel. The US and Israel did not like it when Hamas, after coming to power, tried with other Palestinian factions to lay down a plan to fight corruption and usher in an authority which would make its priority the security of Palestinians instead of the security of Israel, an authority which would support resistance. From this point started the punishment of the Palestinian people starting with the siege last year. Funds were cut off, people were besieged, and this continues to this day in both Gaza and the West Bank. 

What we are facing today is a challenge. Hamas’ coming to power did not create the problem, it only exposed the problem. The problem existed alrready and our elevation to power only exposed the problem and its cause. This is part of the challenge we face. As Palestinian people we face a number of challenges: resistance, independence of the Palestinian decision-making free from the dictates of America and Israel.

This is correct but you move within a given international situation which cannot be changed easily. To have your own free will, you need a conducive climate within the international and regional organisations and the neighbouring countries. It seems nothing has changed in this sphere as was envisaged.
Hamas maintains its Arab, Islamic, regional and international relations. Hamas is well aware of the international balance of power and it knows that the balance of power is not in our favour at present. Hamas is receptive to the world around it and, all praise to Allah, maintains extensive relations. But what Hamas can do, faced with very difficult options? No people in the end should submit to balance of power. Yes, it cannot change the situation within a day or two. But, it should continue to struggle. All nations in the world have struggled, endured and refused to give in to the tyranny of the balance of power. There is international injustice. Balance of power permits Israel to kill and assassinate with impunity. Balance of power did not come to the rescue of the Palestinian people and did not help them to retrieve their rights. 

There are international covenants, there are UN Security Council resolutions, but the balance of power and the international community are unable to force Israel to respect international resolutions or even the international agreements Israel itself has signed. Should, then as a Palestinian, must I submit to this balance of power? It is true that I cannot fight the whole world but at least I can cling on to my rights. How the Indian people secured their freedom from British occupation? People in South Africa, Vietnam, rather all peoples of the world at some point of time, have fought for their rights. We too as Palestinians are destined to remain steadfast, to resist, to move ahead politically and diplomatically and to approach the world community until things start favouring us. I tell you that things are moving in our favour. It is true that we are suffering badly. The siege is harsh. But the fact remains that Israel too is no longer able to settle things against us. Things are no longer in favour of Israel. True, it is mightier than us but it is no longer able to defeat us. This means that the future belongs to resistance and to the Palestinian people and not to Israel which relies on aggression. Occupation has no future. Every resistance triumphs in the end.

Issues are being raised at present against the government of Hamas in Gaza Strip. These issues are discussed all over the world and therefore these should be addressed. Issues like some Hamas outfits using unnecessary force such as firing at the feet of Fateh people, throwing people from top of buildings, and now prohibiting people from praying in open spaces and gate-crashing into wedding ceremonies. Doesn’t such conduct betray a certain tendency from which Arab masses have suffered long at the hands of their regimes? It seems this will malign Hamas and let it down in the eyes of the very people it wants to serve.

Look, respected brother, our position is like what an Arab poet said in his poem:

He was thrown in the well, with hands tied, and told
Beware, you must never get wet.

Hamas came to power through the ballot box and free and fair elections. It did not come from outside Palestine. It grew from inside the Palestinian people. Hamas’ legality emanates from its struggle and from its political legality by winning an election. Hamas is well-known to the Palestinian people and to the world as a clean and trustworthy organisation. It has sacrificed a large number of its greatest leaders including its founder Shaikh Ahmad Yasin. But all this does not work in favour of Hamas. It is not allowed to rule even for a single day. No sooner it won elections than it was denied power. Both America and Israel conspired against Hamas. From here started the problems. Even after the Mecca Agreement [2 March 2007], General Dayton arrived in order to coordinate with a certain party in the Palestinian arena as well as with other security officials in the region with the aim of undermining the national unity government ushered in by the Mecca Agreement. They supported this particular party with over one hundred million dollars in addition to arms and training. Hamas, then, is a victim, not a villain. What is the crime of Hamas - that the people elected it? Or that it came to power via ballot box and democratic elections but was denied the right to rule? It was subjected to conditions and the Palestinian people were punished and placed under siege so that they would shun Hamas. 

These issues that you refer to started because of this conspiracy to stage a coup against the legitimate government and this in turn led to what happened in Gaza Strip. Dear brother, what happened in Gaza was a coup by a party which sought support of the Americans and the Israelis against its own legitimate government. Like any other government facing coup, what should this government do? Should it not defend its legality? Hamas only defended its constitutional and democratic legality in the face of a conspiring party in cahoot with its enemies. This is why things to slide to what happened in Gaza. 

As to what Hamas is accused of, like throwing people from rooftops, Hamas did not do it. In fact, the same conspiring party did this too in Gaza last June. They were searching for bearded people and during this search they threw a youth from the 16th floor of a building. The family of this youth said that Hamas did not do it, rather it was committed by that certain party in Gaza. 

Now, America allows Salam Fayyad’s government in the West Bank to violate the law, to be formed in violation of law. It allows this government to arrest hundreds of Hamas leaders and cadres. It shuts down around 500 charitable, social and cultural organisations in the West Bank but no one questions this move and the media people are not allowed to cover it. In Gaza, there is freedom of press. How this news was communicated to the world? Because there is freedom of press in Gaza. There is a government, though “relieved”, in Gaza. There is division in Palestinian ranks. There is a government in Ramallah and another one in Gaza Strip. Why we in the West Bank are not stirring up any problem in the face of the government of the West Bank? Why this particular trend in the West Bank stirs up trouble in the face of the government in Gaza? There are explosions in the West Bank. There are security problems. The salaries of 11,000 government employees in Gaza have been stopped. Electricity has been cut off. Then there are the checkpoints. Rafah checkpoint, linking Gaza to Egypt, has been closed down. This pressure is a kind of war against us. This is why you find the government in Gaza defending itself. We do not forbid people to pray in public squares but people have to respect general law and order. Whoever wants to pray does not go out to stone the offices of security forces. The government was silent during the first few weeks but when these people continued to go after prayers to commit illegal and disruptive acts, the government stepped in to stop this chaos. What is happening in Gaza is a reaction to a conspiracy, siege and aggressive measures taken by the US and Israel together with that particular party. The fact is that we are victims. There is no doubt that we have to deal with these issues with wisdom. I know that there are some actions which require examination. But the fact remains that all this comes in the context of reaction to this pressure. The world has to realise that what is happening in Gaza is unnatural. 

Dr Zafar, brother, Gaza is a small place - just 30x60 sq. kms in whcih one and a half million people are crammed in. They are living under siege, in a big prison. This pressure leads to explosion. This is what I meant when I quoted the poet who said that “I threw him into the well with hands-bound and told him not to get wet”... When you subject people to such pressure, you only pour oil on fire. The people in Gaza are under siege, subjected to hunger, the checkpoints allowing them to go out are closed. The Government of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah is trying to isolate Hamas and the Palestinian people in Gaza. This pressure coupled with instigating trouble and subversion leads to problems. Tell me about one single government in the world which allows subversion in its country. No government allows or accepts this. But because America pressurises and the Authority of Abu Mazin allows, the government of Salam Fayyad does this. But it is not acceptable for Hamas even to defend itself. This is appalling. 

We do not like this division of the Palestinians. We said, let us resolve this issue in the light of correct principles. I made this proposal when I spoke to Mr Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. I spoke to Arab rulers and officials and told them: The solution and dialogue should be based on objective bases which are as follows. 

One: Let us unite the West Bank and Gaza. Let us not disconnet Gaza from the West Bank. 

Two: There should be one political system. We want one authority and one government, not two governments. 

Three: The Palestinian legality with all its components should be respected instead of being limited to the President of the Authority Mr Abu Mazin. He has the legality as an elected president. But there is also an elected legislative council which too has its legality. Some want to deprive the council of its legality, suspend it and usurp its powers. 

Four: Recourse to law. Abu Mazin has suspended the legal process. 

Five: Dealing with the basic problem, i.e., the security agencies. We told them, let us reorganise the Palestinian national agencies on patriotic and professional bases and make them accountable to the government, the interior minister and the Authority instead of security agencies factions belonging to factions, Fateh and Hamas alike. 

And finally, six: Let us form a government of national unity in the West Bank and Gaza under the Palestinian Authority. 

We are not demanding the moon. We are demanding what is logical. But America prohibits everone to engage in dialogue. It does not permit the Chairman of the Authority to do a dialogue. The fact is that Hamas is being subjected to great injustice. Hamas did not commit any crime. Hamas is only defending its legality. It is adhering to the law and the constitutional legality. Is this a crime?

We hear that the popularity of Hamas has dwindled in Gaza, that the siege has led to a decline in its support. Does Hamas ponder over this and plan to come out of this situation or does it wait for a wayout as a result of circumstances?
Let anyone wishing to know facts, visit Gaza and see for himself what popularity means. Dr Zafar, most opinion polls in Palestine are paid and managed. We experienced these opinion polls before the elections. They claimed that Hamas will not win a majority and yet Hamas did win a majority. It is a game, in fact. Opinion polls, I am sorry to say, are mostly unworthy of respect. They are bought by money. We are concerned about our popularity just as we are concerned about serving our people. Whoever wants to know, let him go to the West Bank and Gaza to discover the facts and see for himself which Palestinian faction is more popular.

Did Hamas gain something by entering the political field and taking over the government? Are there lessons learnt from this experiment?
There is no doubt that political work in inhospitable conditions is difficult. To practice politics under occupation is a difficult experience. We were not under andh illusion and we did not deceive ourselves. We knew when we took part in the elections that it was an exercise under occupation and under the aegis of an authority which does not enjoy sovereignty. We knew all this, but as I told you, we participated for the sake of change and correction and in order to serve our people, so that the Authority is with the resistance, not against it. These were our aims. The achievement of these aims is not easy because you are sailing against the currents. The regional and international currents are against us. Yet, we have no option but to persevere and be patient. It is enough that our experiment stopped the downhill slide. There was an Authority which was neck-deep in corruption, deviation, war against resistance, lacking principles in political negotiations. At least now there is a kind of discipline in these matters. Last year we agreed on a national covenant which determined the political aims and the political programme of the Palestinian powers. We are moving in a minefield in difficult times. I believe that there is no option for any serious movement but to engage in all kinds of activities, starting from resistance against occupation and engaging in political work among the people as well as to do social, relief, charitable, ideological and diplomatic work. We are a comprehensive movement and that is why we are active in all these fields. You cannot limit yourself to only one kind of work but the hurdles are legion.

There is another related issue. From time to time we hear that there is a dialogue between Hamas and Fateh or between the governments in Gaza and West Bank. Is there any progress in this respect or has the dialogue stopped?
Unfortunately, this dialogue never took place because the party controlling the Authority in Ramallah rejects dialogue with Hamas. Some leaders of Fateh tried to start a dialogue with us, made contacts with us and we too responded positively to them, but later those leaders were ordered not to engage us in dialogue. It is the Authority in Ramallah and the government of Salam Fayyad which prohibits dialogue with us. It seems, unfortunately, that they seek strength from the American and Israeli stands. They are betting on wrong horses. Countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and most Arab states call for dialogue but the Authority in Ramallah does not respond. We opened the doors of dialogue but unfortunately, Ramallah closed it. The Americans openly say that they are using pressure to stop any dialogue. David Walsh said a few weeks ago that they are using pressures on Arab countries so that there is no dialogue with Hamas.

You live in Damascus where many other Palestinian leaders reside. Are there any contacts and dialogue between you and them?
Yes, as factions we do meet. We enjoy good relations and coordination but this detente here is not sufficient to force a dialogue in the Palestinian arena because a dialogue is between two parties. The other party is the Authority, the government of Salam Fayyad and a certain trend in Fateh which refuses dialogue. Unfortunately, this is the reason for there being no dialogue.

After about two decades of the United States’ enjoying the status of the sole superpower in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union, now a new polarisation is taking shape. There are signs that a Russian-Chinese bloc is emerging as the new pole of world power. Did Hamas try to benefit from this new development, especially since the Palestinian Authority is in close alliance with the US?
Undoubtedly, it is known in politics that monopoly of a single pole in world politics has many evils for world peace. Since the US became the sole world power, the world has seen more and more wars, more aggression, more bloodshed, more preventive wars and control of the American politics by the Conservative Right. This has been detrimental to many, especially the weak countries with a cause like the Palestinian people, Iraq and Afghanistan among others. America does not even respect international pacts like Kyoto Protocol. Now, for the last few years, there is some challenge to this American hegemony as Russia is trying to regain some of its previous momentum. China also has to do something with this new situation although its priority remains economic growth. I believe it is in the interest of the whole world that there should be a balance in world power. Allah the Merciful has created life on the principle of checks and balances. We in Hamas are alive to these changes. Our relations with Moscow are excellent, very good, and we are trying to open channels with China though these efforts are still nascent. We beleive that it is in the interest of the weak nations that there be a balance of power. Hamas is open to all. It wants to extend lines of communication and cordial relationship with all countries of the world.

There are indications and statements from time to time that Hamas is ready to accept Oslo, rather the results of Oslo, the borders of 1967 and recognise the Jewish State while there are other indications that Hamas is ready only for a truce with the zionist entity. So where does Hamas really stand and what is its red line and what are its positions on which it will make no concessions in any case?
It is not correct that Hamas has agreed to Oslo. Yes, we did take part in the elections of the legislative council but we do not accept Oslo as a political programme. The political perspective of Hamas is clear. It adheres to all the rights of the Palestinian people. It adheres to Jerusalem, right to return, liberation of the Palestinian land. Hamas rejects the legality of occupation. These are permanent positions of Hamas Movement. But we are dealing with a certain current stage at present. We are dealing with a general Palestinian national political stand. We felt that it is beneficial that Palestinians of all political and ideological hues should meet and subscribe to a common programme. We agreed on a common denominator acceptable to all Palestinian factions including Hamas, Fateh, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front, Democratic Front and other factions. There are 13 or 15 factions which all agree on the following: to establish the Palestinian state within the areas of 1967 on the borders prevailing on the 4th of June 1967 including Jerusalem. right to return - not right to return to the Palestinian State as some in the region explain it but the right to return to the towns and villages taken away from the Palestinian people. 

This is the programme we all agreed upon and this is contained in the document of the national covenant signed by us last year. Then, this is the common national programme. Some of these factions see that this is their final aim and for it they should recognise the state of Israel. Our stand in Hamas is that we will offer truce to Israel instead of recognition. This is the perspective of Hamas. It has not changed. We support a state within the 1967 borders including Jerusalem, right of return [of the refugees], no [Israeli] settlements in our territory, total sovereignty of all 1967 lands. In return we offer only truce instead of recognition of Israel. There are rights of the Palestinian people which must be taken into account.

But if the Palestinian Authority agrees to a final settlement in your absence, what will be your stand?
We in the document of the national covenant have agreed on a mechanism for passing any drafts of agreements. In other words, in the document of national covenant we have agreed on how the negotiation will take place and what are the parameters of negotiation, what are the political aims of the Palestinian people which will be the objective of all negotiations, who will take decisions, who will approve and pass. We determined two mechanisms: It has to be passed by the Palestinian legislative assembly after its reconstruction or through a general plebiscite. We accept what the Palestinian people accept. We have accepted the democratic game and we accept the democratic results. We have faith in our people to whom belongs the right and options.

It seems from the behaviour of the Authority, starting from Oslo, that it takes these decisions unilaterally and does not seek the Palestinian people's approval through a plebiscite. If such a thing, like a final settlement, takes place between the Authority and Israel alongwith the US, UN, Quartet etc, what will be your stand? Will the resistance continue or will you approve of such a development?
This used to take place in the past. The Authority used to take unilateral decisions as it liked. Things have changed today. This is one of the good things which emerged out of our participation in elections. Now there is a balance. Today no one, Fateh or even Hamas, can force its perspective and programme on the other. We have accepted the democratic game and we have to accept its results too. In the end, the political stand will be resolved by the Palestinian people. Therefore, anything of this kind will have to be referred to the Palestinian people for their approval. Our people are the final arbiter in this matter.

It should happen this way, but what if it happened otherwise?
If it happened otherwise there will be vast Palestinian opposition, not just from Hamas. If the Palestinian negotiator today reached certain results with [Israeli PM] Olmert, it will not cover the Palestinian rights as is evident from the negotiations so far. In other words, such results will not touch the agreed Palestinian ceiling. These result will be less than the agreed ceiling, be it settlements or the issue of Jerusalem or the right to return. In such a situation, the whole Palestinian people will oppose this agreement. The Palestinian people will not accept it. We are sure of this. The Palestinian people will not accept anything less than what we have agreed upon, i.e., a Palestinian state on the whole territory of June 1967 including Jerusalem and right to return. The Palestinian people will not accept anything less.

Thank you.
Through you and your newspaper, I greet the friendly Indian people and we hope that India will stand by us, and that all the peoples of the world will stand by the wronged Palestinian people who are trying to regain their legitimate rights. The Palestinian people have a just cause and for it they are knocking at every door. It was only when the Palestinian people discovered that the international community has failed to secure its rights and to ensure for it the right of self-determination, that it turned to resistance which is its legitimate right. We urge the people of the world, including the dear Indian people, to stand by us. Thank you.


This interview was conducted in Arabic in Damascus on 16 September. Earlier Dr Khan was the first and only Indian journalist to date to interview Hizbullah chief Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah (see MG, 1-15 Dec. 2002; http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/01122002/0112200264.htm)

«

Latest Indian Muslim Islamic News

Latest Indian Muslim Organisation Press Releases / Statements

Subscribe to the PRINT edition NOW: Get the COMPLETE picture
32 tabloid pages chock-full of news, views & analysis on the Muslim scene in India & abroad...
Delivered at your doorstep, Twice a month

 

 
 

Get Books from India at cheap attractive ratesArabic English High Quality translation

Help Relief, Welfare, development work in India - Zakat

Read books on Indian Muslim Islamic topics only on MG bookstore !


Subscribe 2 MG print edition | Muslim Educational Loan AidContact Us | Muslim Baby Names | OutreachIndia | Suggestions | Muslim  Islamic greeting cards

Bookmark The Milli Gazette

Privacy PolicyDisclaimer  © Copyright 2000-Present  Publishers: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, India