Asked by veteran interviewer Charlie Rose whether he could foresee living beside Israelis in peace, Meshaal said only a future Palestinian state could decide whether to recognize Israel.Of course, Rose apparently wasn't astute enough to ask Hamas about their charter which says something a little different:
"We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers," he said.
"I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs," he said. "However, I do not coexist with the occupiers."
Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised.To understand Meshal's words and his Hamas Charter, one needs to understand the twin concepts of dhimmitude and honor.
..."The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).
...The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters.
In Islamic thought, Jews and Christians who live in Muslim lands are considered "dhimmis" - citizens who are allowed to live in relative peace as long as they pay a poll tax and are denied equal political rights. The tacit assumption is that Christians and Jews are meant to be second-class citizens, forever weak and obedient, under Muslim rule.
When European Christians started to beat back Muslim imperialist conquests in the 16th century, it was a huge turning point for Islam, which had until then assumed that its power would remain unchecked. (remember that Islam is both a religion and a political system.) Losing to huge Christian forces, while a big setback, was not considered disastrous to the Muslim psyche, because there is still some honor in losing to a superior enemy.
The tiny Jewish people, on the other hand, were seen as permanently weak and easily subdued. The idea that they could defeat Muslims militarily is a huge source of shame, and Muslim (especially Arab) society cannot abide shame.
The rise of Zionism and the eventual birth of Israel is considered the prototypical Muslim and Arab catastrophe - the "Nakba.:"
Keep in mind that Israel was not created by the UN's 1947 partition plan, as people mistakenly believe. That resolution was not accepted by the Arabs and therefore had no legal weight as a General Assembly resolution. No, Israel was wholly created by the military victory of the supposedly weak, dhimmi Jews over the combined, seemingly superior armies of the Arabs and Muslims.
Even worse, this tiny country divided the Arab world in half, severing the land bridge between Egypt and the African Arab countries and those in Asia.
The idea that Jews - weak, dhimmified Jews - could beat Arabs militarily was a stunning blow to Arab honor. And everything that Arabs have done since 1948 has been in pursuit of regaining their lost honor.
The Yom Kippur War was nothing but an Egyptian bid to eliminate its shame at losing the Six Day War. During peace negotiations, Sadat insisted that every grain of sand in the Sinai be returned to Egypt, because even a loss of a square millimeter of land would be an admission of defeat and therefore shameful.
Egypt's goals in both war and peace were driven primarily by the Arab need for honor.
For Palestinian Arabs, their national identity is defined not by who they are but by what they claim to have lost. There was no Palestinian identity before Zionism - no nation, no language, no flag, no culture that was considered "Palestinian" as opposed to Levantine or Arab. Their modern self-perception as a nation is a reflection of their resentment of Israel, not of any positive "Palestinianism."
Hamas and Fatah, the two leading Palestinian Arab political parties today, agree that Israel must be destroyed in order to rectify what is to them an anomalous Jewish nationalism and a shameful failure of their people and of the Muslim/Arab nations as a whole (respectively.)
Fatah is using the Arafat-designed strategy of "phases," by first gaining political power and land, and then leveraging it to consolidate and increase its power until Israel no longer exists as a Jewish state.
Hamas is more direct: they want to destroy Israel outright, both by direct military action and their hope that they can make life for Israelis so unbearable that they will force a mass migration. (Hamas isn't even interested in a Palestinian state except as a means to rebuild the Caliphate, and Zionists are considered the main obstacle to that much larger goal.)
But both groups are motivated, above all, by their seeking to regain their lost honor. Ordinary Palestinian Arabs have internalized this goal as can be seen in even recent surveys. As long as Israel exists, real peace is not possible (although detente with a strong and convincingly invincible Israel is the best that can be imagined.)
Meshal's supposedly generous offer to co-exist with Jews means that he wants to erase Israel, destroy Zionism and magnanimously allow Jews to return to their rightful place as weak, politically impotent dhimmis under benevolent Muslim rule. It is slightly more generous that the still unmodified PLO's 1968 charter, that states "The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion  will be considered Palestinians" when Israel is destroyed.
In short, Israel's existence is an unspeakable affront to the honor of Arabs and Muslims. Just as murder is often considered the only way to remove the stain of family shame, the destruction of Israel is the only way for Arabs to remove the shame of being defeated by weak Jews. The methods vary from military to political to demographic to public relations, but the desired end state is the same.
Without understanding this you cannot understand the Middle East.