From the print version of La Repubblica (Italy)
“The Super-Most Wanted” Meshaal, “Now we deal with our conditions”
DAMASCUS—The day of Hamas’ triumph, the supreme leader, Khaled Meshal, keeps his euphoria in check and weighs his words: “This is a first step. Yet, other steps are needed before the goal: the liberation from the occupation”.
It’s not easy to succeed in meeting Meshaal (Abu’l Walid, for his followers).
Being a moving target of Israel, he continually changes his headquarters. In Amman, the Mossad injected poison behind his ear with an air-compressed syringe. After being discovered and captured, the Israeli agents were released in exchange for the antidote. The fact raised an international crisis.
Now we’re being brought by an armoured, smoke-windowed Mercedes 200 to meet him. Off with the mobile phones, that have been disassembled and put in a metallic box, off with the bags, off with the shoes.
Mr. Khaled Meshaal, what does victory taste like?
“You should ask that to the Americans and Israelis, judging by their dismay before the outcome of the elections. Washington invokes democracy. Well, the constituency expressed their vote. Maybe our democracy has a not much welcomed face to the westerners: however, this is a great day for our nation”.
Is it also for peace? Israel considers your victory as a catastrophe, the end of peace process.
“That depends on Israel, not on us. If it is willing to acknowledge the rights of the Palestinians, to live freely on their own lands, then peace is at hand. We’re ready. But are they?”
Mr. Meshaal, are you willing to negotiate?
“Since Madrid and Oslo, accords have lead nowhere. The peace process is at a deadlock, the Palestinian life quality has worsened, the fence is moving forward and engulfing further lands. As to the Road Map, it is unacceptable. It imposes upon us detailed conditions: the disarmament and the arrest of mujaheddins, the giving up of resistance. Yet it’s vague as regards Israel’s duties: it doesn’t say a word about Jerusalem, the refugees’ fate, the extension of territories to give back”.
Nor does Hamas make clear about which part of Palestine it means to free. Please, say it yourself: do you mean to recover historic Palestine that comprises Israel or only the territories occupied in 1967?
“I’ll answer you with another question: why does the world ask the Palestinians to define the borders of its own homeland while it doesn’t ask the Italians to do the same thing with Italy? I know very well what is the map of my country.”
So Hamas won’t acknowledge Israel, will it?
“No, we won’t do it. Israel was born from an aggression, an occupation of another’s lands.”
Your statute calls for the destruction of Israel. It was said that, in view of the elections, you would delete that paragraph written in 1988.
“You westerners are wrong: the statute doesn’t invoke Israel’s destruction at all. In Arab it is written, “ to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine”. We don’t want to get rid of the other, we only wish to attain our rights. So, that paragraph will remain.”
Would you accept negotiations through a third party involved, such as Israel has done in Lebanon with Hezbollah?
“We still haven’t decided. We already are dealing with the Israelis, as regards municipalities, for practical reasons. Hamas doesn’t reject talks. It’s Israel’s philosophy that impedes us from negotiating. So, there’s nothing left for us but resistance”.
America, Europe and Israel ask you to put down your arms. Will you agree?
“Obviously not, as long as most of the territory is under occupation. Only force has produced some result, the Israeli withdraw from Gaza.”
Yet, you have negotiated a truce.
“It’s true, and we have respected it whereas Israel has not. Now, since 1 January it expired. This doesn’t mean that Hamas won’t take into account the reality: it will depend on the conditions of the people and on the land.”
How does Hamas think about entering into the political process?
“Hamas has been dealing with politics for a long time. Our political platform also provides for a second way, besides the resistance: to build the political life on a democratic and solid foundation, to fight against corruption and introduce a principle of freedom and justice.”
Marwan Barghouti, from prison, is proposing to you a coalition government together with Fatah.
“It’s too early. We have to evaluate the international situation, which is very delicate, to consider America’s pressures upon the Palestinian Authority, whether Abu Mazen will ask us to accept the Oslo Accords and recognise Israel, something that we won’t do. At any rate, we’ll partake in each decision-making process.”
Sharon has struck and liquidated your leadership. What have the results of this been, Mr. Meshaal?
To this question, Mr. Meshaal jumps to his feet. “Look,” he says pointing to a board on the wall: a huge diamond-shape board filled with photos of smiling faces, of the “martyred” Hamas leaders. On the right, glowing within a sun there’s Sheik Yassin. On the left, Dr. Rantissi “The results are under everyone’s eyes. That, notwithstanding all these dead men, America, Europe and Israel will have to deal with us from now on.”
Translated by Diego Traversa and Mary Rizzo, member of Tlaxcala, the community of translators for linguistic diversity (www.tlaxcala.es). This translation is on copyleft.
Originally published on: PeacePalestine