Mashaal to Obama: we appreciate your words, but actions speak louder
|Friday, June 26,2009 08:21|
|By Khalid Amayreh|
In a landmark speech in Damascus Thursday afternoon, Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal urged President Barack Obama to transform his positive words about the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people into “concrete actions.”
“We do appreciate Obama’s new language, we think it is a step in the right direction. However, we expect the American administration to put these words into actions and to refrain from imposing conditions on Hamas.”
Mashaal said dealing with Hamas must be based on respecting the Palestinian people’s democratic choice, not imposing conditions such as those imposed by the Quartet, which included demands for unconditional recognition of the apartheid Israeli regime, giving up resistance entirely and accepting without reservation all the vague agreements and understandings reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Mashaal pointed out that conditions such as these had been imposed by Israel and the U.S. and carried out (by the PA), but nothing changed on the ground as the Israeli occupation remained entrenched, the settlement expansion continued unabated and the Palestinian horizons narrowed further and further.
He argued that whenever the PA budged to Israeli demands and conditions, fresh demands and conditions were imposed.
“They asked the PA to recognize Israel , and the PA recognized Israel . But, look, now they want the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish nature of Israel , to recognize that al-Quds al Sharif is Israel’s capital, and to give up the right of return for the refugees. You see, Israel’s conditions and demands are endless.”
Mashaal stressed that Hamas was not terribly concerned about getting itself recognized by foreign powers.
“Hamas’s priority is not getting itself recognized by others, but rather getting others to recognize the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights. The Palestinian national cause has a priority over Hamas, and concerns over the national cause takes precedence over concerns over all other interests and considerations. And no faction has the right to give concessions at the expense of the national cause for the sake of making factional political gains.”
On Netanyahu speech
Mashaal reserved some of his strongest words for Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu who two weeks ago proposed the creation of a vaguely-defined Palestinian entity which would be nearly completely controlled by Israel and not encompassing Jerusalem .
“Netanyahu wants to give our people a state with a name but without any substance. He may continue to entertain his fascist whims for ever, but he won’t find a Palestinian who would listen to him.”
He said that Netanyahu’s racist speech reflected an inherently racist mindset and hell-bent desire to keep up the occupation of our motherland.
He further pointed out that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state meant in real terms killing the right of return as well as undermining the future of the 1.5 million Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.
Mashaal addressed Arab leaders, saying they should withdraw the so-called Arab peace plan because Israel is viewing it with contempt.
“Netanyahu has turned the table upside down, hence it is futile to keep our hands extended to an insolent Israeli leadership. Therefore, and in response to the Israeli arrogance and insolence, I urge Arab leaders to behave in a dignified manner and make available new choices and gather our assets of power, which are available, provided there is the will“
He said Hamas was willing and ready to cooperate with any party for the sake of expediting the national interests of the Arab people. He added that begging Israel for peace would give a sign of weakness.
Hamas’ politburo chief devoted a significant part of his speech to the national rift with Fatah, saying that Palestinian national unity was paramount, not necessarily for the sake of expediting peace talks with Israel, but rather in order to strengthen the Palestinian people and enhance their ability to extract legitimate Palestinian rights from Zionist hands.
“National unity is paramount because it consolidates our internal front in Israel’s face.”
He said that Hamas adopted a decision to act expeditiously to end this rift through Egyptian-mediated efforts.
However, Mashaal said that there were three requirements without which inter-Palestinian reconciliation wouldn’t be accomplished.
First, Palestinians must not allow foreign interference in their internal affairs; Second, Palestinians must agree on all contentious issues in one package; and, third, the Palestinian Authority must put an end to the provocative policy of arresting Hamas’ supporters and sympathizers.
“The problem is not a mere internal disagreement. We are talking about systematic practices carried out by the Fayyadh government under the supervision of the American Gen. Keith Dayton. There is a close coordination with the Israeli occupation army against resistance elements, for the sake of arresting or killing them as happened recently in Qalqilya.”
Mashaal pointed out that as many as 830 men and women, including scholars, academics, students, business people and other professionals were languishing in PA jails.
“Many are tortured and some have died while others were transferred to hospital for treatment of torture-related illnesses.
“There is a systematic process of eradication. Nothing like this has happened since 1967. All institutions have been closed down, Zakat (Alms) committees confiscated, funds destined to prisoners and orphans stolen…”
Mashaal argued that the provocative and repressive practices of the PA were the main obstacle impeding national unity between Fatah and Hamas.
Underscoring Dayton’s disastrous role in fomenting Palestinian division, Mashaal called on President Obama to withdraw Gen. Dayton from the West Bank immediately.
“I believe that building a repressive authority is incompatible with Obama’s calls for spreading democracy in this part of the world. Hence.”
Mashaal scoffed at the PA for meticulously carrying out “commitments” to appease Israel while Israel was continuing to build settlements and steal land and Judaize Jerusalem and imposing siege on Gaza .
Mashaal recognized that some political prisoners were being released from PA jails.
However, he pointed out that even more people were being arrested, accusing the PA of following the rolling-gate policy.
“I am sorry to say that what the PA is doing in the West Bank doesn’t really give us a reason for hope. This is why I am urging our brothers in Egypt to deal with this matter urgently.
Finally, Mashaal reasserted Hamas’ commitment to free Palestinian prisoners languishing in Zionist jails, detention camps and dungeons.
He pointed out that there were as many as 12, 000 Palestinian prisoners detained in Zionist custody, including 400 children, the youngest of whom is Yousuf al Zeq, who is only 15 months’ old.
“What is preventing a prisoner swap deal from seeing the light is Israeli intransigence. Otherwise, we are willing to carry out a serious deal that would release our prisoners from Zionist jails.”