Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hamas leaders

Hamas leaders comment on the Mecca Agreement and the demands of the Quartet
The following are quotes by Hamas leaders since the signing of the Mecca Agreement with regard to the demands of the Quartet:

Ahmed Youssef, Adviser to Premier Haniyeh:
Interview to Reuters, 10 February 2007:
The issue of recognition was not addressed at all in Mecca, Ahmed Youssef said. "In the platform of the new government there will be no sign of recognition (of Israel) regardless of pressures the United States and the Quartet would exert."

b. Interview to Al-Jazirah TV, 10 February 2007:

... He noted that the political guidelines for the next government do not include the recognition of Israel. This was clear with regard to them, and what is written in the Mecca agreement is also clear, despite attempts by some to include the recognition of Israel in the agreement. He reiterated that they wanted to be "as clear as the midday sun" that there would be no recognition of Israel and that the matter was outside the scope of the document of national consensus. Therefore all talk about it or any European pressure in that direction (is rejected), we say that there is no recognition of Israel by Hamas as a movement and this has been made clear in talks with the Europeans".

c. Al-Hayat, 11 February 2007:
He estimated that the USA would maintain pressure to the last moment to extract acceptance of the three conditions of the Quartet: recognition of Israel, of the agreements with Israel and the cessation of violence. Youssef revealed that the Europeans would ignore the condition of recognizing Israel."

2. Ismail Radwan, Hamas spokesman
Interview to AFP, 9 February 2007:

"The agreement reached at Mecca does not mean recognition of the Israeli entity... The position of Hamas is firm and well known and it is one of non-recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity... Hamas is one thing, the government is another, but the government is based on the document of national consensus which does not recognize the Zionist entity... The government is not required to recognize Israel; the PLO did, and that is its concern."

Khalid Mash'al, Head of the Hamas Politbureau
a. Al-Hayat interview 10 February 2007:

"The question of recognition did not arise in the discussions held. Nobody asked us to do so. We agreed on the guidelines for this government and we are part of the government like the other groups and we are obligated to the understandings stressed in the document of national consensus, to the letter of appointment we accepted as a government, these political guidelines are shared by all the Palestinian factions, but each faction retains its own political ideas."

b. Interview to Tareq Abbas, journalist, Jeddah 11 February 2007:
"We have no complexes about dialogue with any country in the world including the USA- except the Zionist entity."
Interview to Al-Akhbariya TV, Saudi Arabia, 12 February 2007:How do you describe Hamas’s lack of recognition of Israel and the reality of the situation that would require meetings with Israeli officials as well as contacts?"Every movement in the Palestinian arena has its own view program and specifics, and has total freedom to adopt the political program that it is convinced of and believes in. This is what we agreed upon, that each faction has total freedom. However, the Palestinian government is a national unity government and as long as it is a national unity one in which all Palestinian factions are participating in, naturally its political program will not be one of a particular faction. Not Hamas’s and not Fatah’s and not any other program, but the government will be based on a political program that is the common denominator among all factions and this is what we agreed upon. The national accord document is a unanimous national program that all Palestinian agree on. Regarding the letter of designation, Hamas and Fatah agreed on its language and content to be, along with the national accord document, a program for the national government that we aim to form."

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas Politbureau
a. Interview to "Al-Arabiyya" 12 February 2007:"

"It is not necessary that the basis for founding a Palestinian state should be mutual recognition, because it is an absolute Palestinian right. The basis (for relations) between states is not just a matter of recognition or non-recognition. There are various sorts and the matter will be discussed after the founding (of the state) and recognition of that Palestinian right."

b. Interview to Hamas website 17 February 2007:
Q: What were the concessions made by Hamas to ensure success at the Mecca talks?
A: I stress again strongly that Hamas wishes to strengthen national unity, but what Hamas agreed to at Mecca was no different from the agreements in Damascus. There were thorough debates about the words "respect" and "obligation" (with reference to documents signed by the PLO) and it was clear to all that Hamas could not agree to anything that was not covered by its political positions.
Q: Does this mean that Hamas made concessions about the distribution of portfolios but not with regard to political matters?
A: Politically Hamas was very flexible, and made no concessions regarding Palestinian principles. Hamas reached the limits of its flexibility and cannot go further politically. At the Damascus talks between Fatah and Hamas, I think Hamas went as far as it could politically, and could not go further. Neither side gave way when it came to concessions. Both sides made concessions for the sake of the Palestinian people, and it was Abu Mazen who agreed to the use of the word "respect" in the letter of appointment, thus enabling agreement to be reached.

5. Bassem Naim, PA Health Minister
Interview to Mustafa Amarah, Al-Zaman, Cairo, 12 February 2007:
"Hamas will not recognize Israel, that we have said repeatedly, we shall not give up our principles and we shall pragmatically respect the signature of the PA on its agreements with Israel."
"The Palestinian government does not have to recognize Israel - the PLO already did so".
"Hamas does not accept the existence of Israel and will not negotiate with Israel."
"As for the Quartet's and other international demands may I state that from the beginning the Hamas delegation to Mecca declared that they do not recognize Israel and would not bow to those demands."
Usama al-Mazini, senior Hamas official
Interview to Radio Sawt al-Arab 19 February 2007:
"We shall not agree to any concession regarding our eternal national rights, we shall not recognize the state of that entity, we shall not yield on the refugees, Jerusalem or our heroic prisoners. We shall not abandon our principles no matter what pressures may come."

7. Usama Hamdan, representative of Hamas in Lebanon
From an extensive interview to Al Manar TV:

Regarding the establishment of a national Palestinian unity government he said:
"We can try to change this structure from the role that others may have expected it to play, to another one so that it can be part of the (armed) resistance, and we said we could do that."
The Oslo agreements were an historic error – "All treaties with the occupation were historic errors because they implied recognition of the legitimacy of occupation and opposition to further resistance."
He said they had not halted the resistance nor promised to stop it. "Everyone knows that one of the conditions for recognition of the government and opening the flow of money to it was to be the end of violence and resistance. We said resistance would continue and we have carried out actions such as capturing the Israeli soldier Shalit, as well as other actions against the aggressive occupation."
"I think that Hamas still sees resistance as a strategic option and will not make any concessions until - if Allah wills it- we shall be victorious in Palestine."
"There is no doubt that nations that surrender will die. Surrender will determine life or death for us. A nation may be wounded but if it refuses to surrender it will not die."

8. Khalil Abu Leila, member, Hamas politbureau
Interview to BBC in Arabic 16 February 2007
"I believe that Mecca was a success, because the aim was reached, but as far as the principles of Hamas are concerned, Hamas maintains its positions for the higher Palestinian interest. It continues to reject and defy the demands of the Quartet."
"The government does not have to recognize Israel. We must learn from the past. The PLO fully recognized the Zionist entity and abolished paragraphs in the Palestinian Covenant referring to Israel but nothing was achieved. The Zionist entity is procrastinating and has the support of the West and the European community."
The reorganization of the PLO was designed to let all Palestinian factions in, that was important, the PLO must be reunited, the Covenant must be redrafted to reflect the highest interests of the Palestinian people, and then we shall all come as members of the PLO, to reexamine what the PLO did in the Oslo Agreements, and all the negotiations with the Zionist entity, and we shall see if it at all matches the higher interests of the Palestinian people. If there is no conflict, then we can go down that route, but if we find that there are contradictions we shall have to reevaluate and say: Stop, the agreements must be reexamined."
Q: What you are saying seems to contradict the Mecca agreements, where Hamas said it would accept or respect agreements made by the PLO.
A. Only as concerns matters that do not contradict the higher interest of the Palestinian people. That is important. We as Palestinians can negotiate with the help of our Arab brethren and say: "Where then is the higher Palestinian interest? If we can agree, we shall act according to that agreement. I say that the way of the previous government, based on Palestinian unity, was in the right direction, for the higher Palestinian interest. If we can find that interest in the agreements (signed by the PLO) we shall abide by them. But if the interest lies elsewhere we must get rid of them (the agreements) and return to jihad (war) with the oppressive Zionist enemy."

9.Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for Hamas
Hamas website 14 February 2007

"The national unity government was based on the document of national consensus signed by all factions. Basically it was the "Prisoners' Text", only amended."
He said the government would not recognize the occupying state and would maintain armed resistance.
Following, for your reference, are two quotes from the document of national consensus, amended 28 June 2006, regarding resistance:

a. para 3:
"The right of the Palestinian people to resist and to uphold the option of resistance of occupation by various means and focusing resistance in the territories occupied in 1967 in tandem with political action, negotiations and diplomacy whereby there is broad participation from all sectors in the popular resistance."

b. para 10:
"To work on forming a unified resistance front called the "Palestinian Resistance Front" to lead and engage in resistance against the occupation and to unify and coordinate resistance action and work on defining a unified political reference for the Front."