UPDATES

More evidence concerning Hamas’ supposed moderation

Oct 17, 2013 | Sharyn Mittelman

More evidence concerning Hamas' supposed moderation
Gershon Baskin

It has become almost conventional wisdom among some commentators that Hamas has moderated its traditional rejectionist stance and is now prepared to embrace a two-state solution – if only Israel will listen.

For example, in March, Fairfax senior journalist Paul McGeough interviewed Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and wrote, “Hamas’ embrace of a two-state solution is qualified, but it implicitly recognises Israel and it shrinks the movement’s ‘river to the sea’ territorial claims to the West Bank and Gaza…” This was despite Meshal stating in the interview, “This is why I say publicly … that I reject the [West’s] conditions – we will not recognise Israel. We will not renounce violence. We will not agree to all previous agreements entered into by the PLO.”

Here’s yet more proof that those who insist that, “if you would just listen carefully, Hamas is telling you that they are prepared to coexist with Israel and make peace”, are in fact listening to their own hopes and wishes more than anything actually emanating from Hamas’ leaders.

In a fascinating and candid interview, Gershon Baskin, veteran Israeli peace activist and founder of the Israeli Palestinian Centre for Research and Information, recounts his conversation with Ghazi Hamad, Hamas’ deputy foreign minister.

Baskin and Hamad have an interesting relationship. From June 2006 to October 2011, Baskin and Hamad conducted secret back-channel negotiations for the prisoner exchange deal that released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Following Shalit’s release, they continue to talk to find a way of bringing about a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

However, even Baskin admits, “We have conducted hundreds of hours of discussions over these years. I am often asked, ‘Is there anyone to talk to in Hamas?’ Hamad is thought to be one of the most pragmatic leaders in Hamas yet even he cannot accept the idea of recognizing Israel and making peace.”

Baskin recounts his conversation with Hamad on this issue:

“Gershon: Is Hamas interested in the two-state solution?

Ghazi: No.

Gershon: OK, so maybe there’s no partner on both sides?

Ghazi: We have no problem to establish our state on the ’67 borders but not to recognize Israel.

Gershon: But that’s not peace.

Ghazi: It’s mine, this land is mine; you should give it to me. You should not ask me to give you something in exchange. My land was stolen. I don’t have to give anything in return to get my land back. According to international resolutions, according to the UN Security Council, this is Palestinian territory.

Gershon: Ghazi, in all honesty, it seems to me that Hamas is in real crisis now. You have lost the support of your friends and allies. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is gone. Qatar is not so friendly anymore. Maybe it is time for Hamas to re-evaluate its entire position and come to new conclusions. Haven’t the Palestinian people suffered long enough?

Ghazi: We will not surrender our rights. We will continue to struggle as long as it takes.”

Ghazi provides no wiggle room for creative re-intepretation of the sort advocates for dialogue with Hamas sometimes employ.

Overall, the interview flies in the face of commentators like McGeough who argue that Hamas is willing to recognise Israel and reach a pragmatic peace. Moreover, the people documenting this reality are Baskin, one of Israel’s best-known advocates of dialogue with Hamas and Ghazi, a Hamas leader recognised as one of the terror group’s most pragmatic.

If we want to understand Hamas, perhaps it’s time to listen to what Hamas leaders are actually saying.

Sharyn Mittelman

 

Tags:

RELATED ARTICLES


While Iran's economy is currently in poor shape, estimates are that a nuclear deal could provide Teheran with up to US$275 billion within a year and US$800 billion over five years (Image: motioncenter, Shutterstock)

International implications of Iran’s economic unrest

May 31, 2022 | Update
Hezbollah does not hide its open affiliation with Iran - as these Hezbollah youth demonstrate - but the Middle Easterners are tired of the poverty, war and chaos that Iranian proxies bring to the countries they operate in. (Photo: nsf2019, Shutterstock)

Election setback for Hezbollah

May 21, 2022 | Update
Shireen Abu Akleh, the well-known Al Jazeera journalist who was killed during a firefight between Palestinians and the IDF in Jenin under unclear circumstances on Wednesday, May 11 (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Controversy follows tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

May 13, 2022 | Update
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Italian TV: "Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing…the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews." (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

The implications of Israel’s recent spat with Russia

May 7, 2022 | Update
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosts Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in January: A new Iran nuclear deal would be a boon to Russia and allied anti-democratic forces (Photo: ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo)

Are the Iran nuclear talks deadlocked?

Apr 29, 2022 | Update
Supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gather in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on April 8 to celebrate the attack on a Tel Aviv bar by Raad Hazem (Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo)

Incitement and the latest terror wave in Israel

Apr 14, 2022 | Update

SIGN UP FOR AIJAC EMAILS

RECENT POSTS

Image: John Theodor/ Shutterstock

Stability is at stake

India has historically had a distant relationship with Israel, but this has changed dramatically in recent years, as evidenced by the close relationship between former Israeli PM Netanyahu and Indian PM Modi (Image: Isranet)

Essay: Israel looks East

The struggle to succeed 86-year old PA President Mahmoud Abbas is consuming Palestinian politics (Image: Shutterstock)

Does Mahmoud Abbas finally have a successor?

Image: Shutterstock

Polls suggest yet another deadlocked election

The UN Human Rights Council in session (Image: US Mission/Eric Bridiers/Flickr)

Deconstruction Zone: A UN Commission’s war on Israel

Image: John Theodor/ Shutterstock

Stability is at stake

India has historically had a distant relationship with Israel, but this has changed dramatically in recent years, as evidenced by the close relationship between former Israeli PM Netanyahu and Indian PM Modi (Image: Isranet)

Essay: Israel looks East

The struggle to succeed 86-year old PA President Mahmoud Abbas is consuming Palestinian politics (Image: Shutterstock)

Does Mahmoud Abbas finally have a successor?

Image: Shutterstock

Polls suggest yet another deadlocked election

The UN Human Rights Council in session (Image: US Mission/Eric Bridiers/Flickr)

Deconstruction Zone: A UN Commission’s war on Israel

SORT BY TOPICS