Any agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be subject to far-reaching changes if Hamas comes to power in a democratic Palestinian state, a top Hamas leader told the Forward in an exclusive and wide-ranging interview.
Mousa Abu Marzook, considered Hamas’s second-highest-ranking official, said that his group would view an agreement between Israel and the P.A. — even one ratified by a referendum of all Palestinians — as a hudna, or cease-fire, rather than as a peace treaty. In power, he said, Hamas would feel free to shift away from those provisions of the agreement that define it as a peace treaty and move instead toward a relationship of armed truce.
“We will not recognize Israel as a state,” he said emphatically. “It will be like the relationship between Lebanon and Israel or Syria and Israel.”
He also made clear that such an agreement must include the unqualified right of Palestinians to return to land in what is now Israel.
Abu Marzook was at pains to knock down suggestions in numerous media outlets that Hamas is preparing to abandon armed resistance against Israel in favor of mass popular resistance against Israeli rule.
A February 6 article by Time magazine correspondent Karl Vick about the “mainstreaming” of Hamas was one object of his disdain. In it, Vick played up comments by Meshal, who, at a November reconciliation meeting with Fatah leaders, praised the popular protests of the Arab Spring last year in Egypt and Tunisia as packing “the power of a tsunami.”
“The new government emerging in Cairo may be dominated by Islamists,” Vick wrote hopefully, “but it has pushed both sides to make up and adopt the nonviolent strategy against Israel, complete with negotiations.”
For Abu Marzook, the November meeting in Cairo meant something “completely different.” At the meeting, he said, the groups involved asked, “What kind of [activities] between us we can share together?” And mass civil resistance, it was decided, was one in which all could participate.
“We accept that,” he said. “[It] can now make reconciliation easier.” But giving up both the right and the opportunity to conduct military operations? “It doesn’t mean that,” Abu Marzook stated flatly.
Indeed, a careful look at the original Agence France Presse report from which Vick drew Meshal’s comments reveals some important remarks the Time correspondent left out. “Now we have a common ground that we can work on,” Meshal said then. But he added, “As long as there is an occupation on our land, we have the right to defend our land by all means, including military resistance.”
In a long exchange about terrorism, the Hamas leader resolutely defended his organization’s past acts of violence targeting civilians.
As for the Protocols, “The Zionists wrote it, and they said, ‘No, we didn’t.‘ [It’s] linked to Zionists,” he said.
Informed that the document was, in fact, a forgery, Abu Marzook appeared nonplussed. “Really? This is the first time I know [about this],” he said.
So any peace agreement that Israel might manage to hammer out with the PA would be torn up after any elections that bring Hamas to power - like the last ones. Making any already illusory potential agreement meaningless.
Astonishingly, the Forward takes pains to quote "experts" throughout the article who see these very words by a Hamas leader and try to spin them as if they are peaceful, the exact way that Karl Vick did and Marzouk proved wrong:
Quite apart from the content of Abu Marzook’s remarks, several veteran observers of the hard-line Islamist group viewed the fact that the interview took place as a larger signal of change now roiling the organization.Why is this fundamentally different than Hamas writing op-eds for the New York Times, something they have done a number of times? All it means is that they are learning how to spin the media better - and how to spin these "experts"who substitute wishful thinking for actually listening to what is being said, explicitly. The idea that people can find the fact that an interview occurred to be more relevant than the actual words spoken is stunning. And it shows that Hamas' new-found media savviness works to its advantage, because so many will disregard their hardline positions and instead find some fake symbolic peacefulness. Hamas doesn't even have to lie to get Westerners to fall all over themselves to praise the murderous thugs; they just have to act vaguely Western.
“I think the mere fact of his speaking to you, independent of what he said, is almost more important than the specifics,” said Shlomi Eldar, who has reported on Hamas from Gaza for Israel TV’s Channel 10 and other media outlets since 1991. “Even granting such an interview is far away from what he thought two or three years ago…. What [Abu Marzook] really wants is for Jewish Americans to convince the Israelis that Hamas is not like an animal.”
Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist who has acted as a liaison between Hamas and senior Israeli government officials, including in the process that finally freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, termed the interview an “historic landmark.”
“The amount of time he gave you is amazing,” Baskin said.
One other "expert" is also shown to be clueless about Hamas:
At some points, Abu Marzook seemed to claim that the Hamas leaders who publicly celebrated such killings — who have included Meshal himself — were not speaking for the organization, or that Hamas had not itself directed and planned the actions or, at least, had not planned them as civilian hits.
“There’s no one speaker [within] the resistance,” he said. “Everybody talks about their actions, and you can make what you want of those speakers. They make it as [if this is] the policy of the resistance. And this is not right. Our policy is… against targeting any civilian.”
On those occasions when civilians die in such actions, “there is no planning” for this, he claimed, “because it’s very difficult to make something like this to be perfect…. When you killed his brother or his [fellow Palestinian] civilians, he wants to retaliate. It’s very difficult to say anything bad to him.”
Mouin Rabbani, a Jordan-based Middle East contributing editor to Middle East Report who follows Hamas closely, expressed surprise at such distancing remarks.
“I’m surprised he didn’t repeat their traditional justifications,” he said.
In the past, Rabbani said, Hamas had expressed interest in reaching an understanding with Israel whereby each side would undertake to avoid hitting civilians or civilian infrastructure targets. “In the past, among other arguments, they’ve justified their actions by claiming every Israeli is a soldier. It’s very uncommon for them to basically disavow these actions.”
No, it's not. During Cast Lead they claimed that they were not targeting civilians with their rockets, and their response to the Goldstone Report said the same. I have traced the first time Hamas made the claim that they don't target children back to 2008 and I explain exactly what prompted them to make that claim.
Besides proving that peace is impossible, this Forward article also proves that many so-called experts on the Middle East are clueless about basic facts.