Khaled Mashaal, chief of Hamas’ political bureau, visiting the Hamas-led Gaza Strip for the first time to mark the organization’s 25th anniversary, spoke at length in praise of "the resistance" – a Palestinian code name for terrorism – and condemning Israel.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s speech in the Gaza Strip and related materials
On 6-8 December 2012, Hamas held a series of events to commemorate 25 years since its establishment. The central event was a rally (8 Dec.) in which hundreds of thousands of Hamas faithful participated. A huge model of a missile of the type launched at Israel, including Jerusalem, during the Pillar of Defense Operation was on display at the rally.
Model of the M75 missile during a rally marking the 25th anniversary
of the founding of Hamas, in Gaza City, 8 Dec 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
The key speaker at the rally was the chief of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, who was visiting the Gaza Strip for the first time. Mashaal presented uncompromising views, speaking at length in praise of "the resistance" – a Palestinian code name for terrorism – and condemning Israel. Among other ideas, he proposed to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the PA, together with Hamas, devise a new plan based on the doctrine of "resistance."
1. Main points of Khaled Mashaal’s speech
A. "The resistance"
"Liberating Palestine, all of Palestine, is an obligation, a privilege, an objective and a goal. It is the responsibility of the Palestinian people and of the Islamic nation…the jihad and the armed resistance are the true and correct way to liberation and to the restoration of our rights. There are different types of struggle – political, diplomatic, public, legal, etc. – but they are worthless without the resistance. This missile [Mashaal points to the model] is a symbol of the fact that policy is a product of the resistance. A true statesman is a product of the rifle and the missile."
B. "Palestine from the river to the sea"
"Palestine – from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, from the north to the south [i.e. all of Israel] – is our land and our right and our homeland; there will be no surrender of even the smallest piece of it. Palestine was and still is Arab and Islamic. Since Palestine is ours, and it is the land of the Arabs and Islam, it is unthinkable that we would recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of it.
There is no legitimacy for the occupation and no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how much time passes. Palestine belongs to us and not to the Zionists. Let me emphasize that we adhere to this fundamental principle: we do not recognize Israel or the legitimacy of the occupation or anything that’s happened in Palestine – the occupation, the settlements, Judaization, hijacking [our] history, falsifying [our] character …all of that is nullified. The Palestinian resistance will crush it and sweep it away, be it Allah’s will."
"The West Bank, Gaza, the 1948 territories [Israel] – these are Palestinian lands, they are all Palestine. Not one part will be separated from any other part, and whoever thinks that Gaza can be separated from the West Bank is mistaken. Gaza and the West Bank cannot surrender Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Safed [Israeli cities]."
"Jerusalem is our eternal capital. We cling to her and we will liberate her inch by inch, quarter by quarter, stone by stone – Jerusalem and all the other places holy to Islam and to Christianity. Israel has no right to Jerusalem."
D. Common platform with Fatah, based on "resistance"
"I am happy to see the diversity here among the leadership and the diversity in Fatah’s flags…We are prepared to reach political agreements – on the Palestinian and on the Arabic level – on political platforms that are compatible with our political platform…we must not let any national plan come at the expense of our fundamental principles concerning the land, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the resistance…Let us reassess, draw conclusions, look for the options open to us, use our bargaining chips and bet on the resistance – the resistance that will continue to be the backbone of our plans."
E. On the PA’s political moves
"Listen well, colleagues in the factions and forces: first liberation, then a state; a real state is a product of liberation and not of negotiations. There is no alternative to a free Palestinian state, with genuine sovereignty over all of Palestine’s territory."
F. The refugee question
"The right of return of all the refugees, the uprooted and the expelled, to Palestinian land – in Gaza, in the West Bank, in the 1948 territories [Israel] – the right of return is sacred to us, and we will not give it up…In this context I would like to say that this is an unshakable principle of Hamas. There will be neither a permanent settlement for refugees nor an alternative homeland. There is no substitute for Palestine…"
2. Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh’s speech
The prime minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, devoted most of his short speech at the rally to the "victory of the resistance" over Israel in the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip. He also praised the Palestinians living in the West Bank "who rose up during the days of aggression and attacked the bus in Tel Aviv, in order to aid their people in Gaza." According to Haniyeh, "the arrival of Mashaal and our brothers from the political bureau, and other leaders, including our sister Leila Khaled – the first to hijack planes – is proof of our military and diplomatic victory." Haniyeh swore in the name of Allah that no trace of Israel would survive – not in Gaza, not in the West Bank, not in Jerusalem and not in ‘historical Palestine’."
3. Hamas’ 6 December declaration
Shortly before Mashaal’s arrival in Gaza, Hamas published (6 Dec) an official statement stressing that, since its founding on 14 December 1987, Hamas has not abandoned its principles. The statement praised key events (such as Operation Cast Lead, the Shalit deal, and Operation Pillar of Defense) and stated that "we will not abandon the battle with the Zionist occupation until it is removed from our land, an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established, and the refugees return to their homes."
The statement also said, "The movement adheres to resistance for the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine…we will continue to be faithful to Jerusalem, to al-Aqsa mosque, and to the holy places of Islam and Christianity and we will not abandon them. We support those who dedicate themselves to defending Islamic areas, who stand firm in Jerusalem and in our occupied land since 1948 [Israel], despite the plots of Judaization and expulsion."
4. Fatah’s reaction
A Fatah delegation was present at the rally, headed by senior officials Faisal Abu Shahala and Yihiye Rabah. Azzam Alahmed, a senior Fatah official and member of its Central Committee, described Mashaal’s speech as "very positive," as it related to many points concerning conciliation that arose in previous agreements between the sides [Fatah and Hamas]. Alahmed added that the importance of the speech was that it was delivered in the Gaza Strip, in the presence of the Hamas leadership from abroad, and thus reflects the position of Hamas as a whole, according to which Palestinian conciliation must be completed.