In the past few months, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has made disturbing statements concerning Israel.
– Hamas statement marking 40th anniversary of the "conquest of Palestine"
1. Refusal to recognize Israel’s existence
– From an interview in the Saudi daily paper Aljazeera (2 April ):
"As far as we’re concerned, the issue of recognition of Israel has been settled once and for all. It has been settled in our political literature, in our Islamic thought and in our Jihadist culture, on which we base our moves. Recognition of Israel is out of the question. We have been advocating the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of the refugees. In exchange for all that, we will declare a truce, but no recognition of Israel."
"The concept of a Palestinian state is clear in our view: ‘Palestine’ within its borders and its legitimate historical heritage. However, we don’t have a problem with a unity government in this phase. We are in agreement with our brother Palestinians and Arabs about establishing a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders with Jerusalem as the capital. We are telling everyone that we have an objective for this phase, as well as a national goal."
2. Reservations about the Arab League peace initiative
– From an interview in Aljazeera (2 April):
"The Arab Summit adopted the Arab initiative as it stands, without amendments… We [Hamas] of course have a position on that. The initiative certainly won Arab consensus and we respect that, but we have our own opinion. We believe that the problem is Israel, which refuses to deal with initiatives and refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people… We told our Arab brothers not to drive a wedge between us because of this issue. We should wait and see what the Israeli position will be. When Israel takes a position one way or the other, we’ll be able to formulate a plan of action between us" (i.e., the Arab League and the Palestinians).
"The speeches given by Arab leaders at the closed session of the Arab summit on Sunday, in which they totally rejected any modification of the initiative, were excellent and constitute the official Arab political boundary. This is a worthy boundary, although we have a position regarding the section that deals with recognition."
"The Americans had some big failures, as they wanted to reopen the Arab initiative and reexamine it. Their purpose was to examine the section relating to the right of return of refugees. In other words, they wanted to deny the refugees the right of return… The US and Rice failed [in their attempt] to pressure the Arab leaders into reexamining the initiative."
3. Threats of violence, if the economic boycott of the Palestinians is not removed soon; no willingness to make political concessions
– At an April 27 press conference (Aljazeera TV, Ramatan TV, Maan News Agency, Pal-Media website, Faras website):
"If the siege continues, it means that the international community’s intention is to punish the Palestinian people and to break its will and to cause the Palestinian government to make political concessions; this is political provocation." In his view, the Palestinians will not agree to political concessions and he stressed that if the international community does not remove the siege, the Palestinians will assess the situation and make a decision that will serve the highest interests and principles of the Palestinian people.
– In an interview to the new Palestinian daily, Palestine (3 May):
“If the expectations of the Palestinian people are not fulfilled and the siege is not lifted after the formation of a national unity government, there is no doubt that the national entity – factions, streams, the presidency, the government and opinion-makers in Palestinian society – will have to form plans for dealing with the siege, and we will have additional options in that respect. If the siege continues beyond a certain time, we will be forced to make a decision, and there is no doubt that we will act."
– In an interview with the Palestine Mubasher website (20 April):
"If the boycott is not lifted in a matter of months, we will make a decision that will preserve the honor of our people and stop those who want our people to give in… We will sacrifice our souls and not our honor nor our principles… We will sacrifice our daily needs and not our eternal needs."
4. Adherence to the “armed stuggle” against Israel and a promise not to harm terrorist groups while dealing with Gaza’s anarchy
On the day commemorating the Naqba, Haniyeh gave a speech in which he stressed, "We are concentrating on politics but have not abandoned our arms." (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, 15 May)
In a speech given at one of the Gazan mosques (21 May), Haniyeh called on the Palestinians to adhere to the option of resistance to the "Occupation", giving his opinion that resistance is the best way to be saved from the "Occupation". He promised to continue the resistance until martyrdom (death for the sake of Allah) or victory. (Hamas website, 21 May)
– In an interview to a Hamas-affiliated weekly, a-Rasalla (19 April):
"Hamas has been true to its principles and true to the resistance and there is no change in its permanent strategic positions (i.e., non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist)… The basic guidelines of the unity government do not contradict the principles of the Palestinian people and the resistance was even the main element in the basic guidelines, as evidenced by the fact that the Americans, Israel and many European states believe that the government did not fulfill the international demands and that its basic guidelines do not meet the Quartet’s conditions."
– At a press conference (18 May), he said that he had asked all armed Palestinians to withdraw from the streets and return to their bases so that the Palestinian people could unite and resist Israeli aggression. He praised the Palestinian people, all the members of the Palestinian resistance and the fallen of the "operative force" (of Hamas), who he sees as the backbone of Palestinian legitimacy. (AFP, Maan, Ramatan, 18 May)
– In a Friday sermon at a mosque in Gaza, he said (al-Aqsa TV, 4 May):
"Implementation of the plan to deal with the anarchy in the security forces, and not with the resistance, has begun. The security plan will not harm the resistance, the resistance organizations or the resistance weapons, because we are currently in a process of changing the concept of Palestinian security. Does this concept of security adhere to commitments to carry out agreements and to pursue resistance members and jihad warriors? Or is it based on a commitment to safeguard individual Palestinians and the resistance – that is what the security plan is based on…. The right to defend ourselves is acceptable because what is happening is a response to aggression. The Palestinian factions told us that they will observe the lull if the Occupation observes it. Therefore, the ball is not in the Palestinian court."
– In a Friday sermon (al-Aqsa TV, 20 April), he said, "I reiterate, on behalf of the Palestinian government, that the security plan will not hurt the resistance, the arms or the units of the resistance; it relates to anarchy, while the resistance is divorced from this plan. This security plan, unlike previous plans designed to attack the resistance, will safeguard the resistance, the arms and the units of the resistance. Allah is pleased with the Prophet’s supporters, the jihad warriors and the martyrs that watered the blessed ground with their pure blood… And we say to these martyrs – we will keep the martyr’s oath. We will give Allah the opportunity to grant us one of two mercies: victory or martyrdom."
5. Justification of rocket fire on Israel
– In an April 24 interview with Ramatan TV, Haniyeh justified the violation of the lull/ceasefire and the renewal of the Kassam rocket bombardment of Israel:
"The Israeli threats against the Palestinian people are not new. The Palestinian people and territories are subject to military escalation and general military aggression, while the policy of killing, murder and arrests continues in the West Bank as well as in the Gaza Strip. We in the Palestinian government and leadership have worked hard to get all of the resistance factions to adopt the lull/ceasefire. The Palestinian position was positive but, unfortunately, it was met with an expansion of the cycle of aggression and escalation against the Palestinian people. Thus, the problem is not a Palestinian one, but an Israeli problem. The Occupation must stop its aggression."
Statement published by the Palestinian Information Center in Gaza to mark the 40th anniversary of the "conquest of Palestine", including "al-Quds" (Jerusalem) and the al-Aqsa Mosque
3 June 2007
[Translated from Arabic]
Hamas: "Our acceptance of a state within the 1967 lines does not mean that we give up (claims to) an inch of our occupied land."
The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, "has promised the Palestinian people that the next few years will see the beginning not just of continuing liberation but the start of the return, of ending the Zionist occupation, leading to the founding of an independent state on the entire Palestinian land."
The statement was published by the Palestinian Information Center to mark the 40th anniversary of the "conquest of Palestine", including "al-Quds" [Jerusalem] and al-Aqsa Mosque. It stressed that "al-Quds will remain the compass-bearer of jihad efforts in Palestine, the direction of prayer for its fighters, without giving up a grain of its soil, and the flags of jihad will fly until the city is once again free, beloved, honoured, Arab, Muslim and purified."
The statement went on to say that the movement’s acceptance of the establishment of a Palestinian state within the borders of 4 June 1967 "does not mean giving up an inch of the rest of our occupied land, or surrendering our rights, the rights of our refugees to their land from which they were evicted."
Furthermore, "the accession to power of Hamas emphasizes that our people want to control their culture and choice of resistance, by defeating the way of capitulation and negotiation, or of so-called security coordination to please the enemy, strongly preferring the path of reform."
Hamas called upon the world to "free the Palestinians from injustice and remove the Zionist occupation of our land and to stop ignoring crimes committed against the land of Palestine."
The movement pledged to defend the path of resistance with all its might, stressing it “will not allow those who sold their souls to sell the country too, so that faith will confront internal sedition despite the efforts of some.”
"For forty years al-Quds [Jerusalem] has been occupied, and with it the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, since that defeat when we lost the remainder of our land, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
"The yoke of occupation is still heavy upon the Palestinian people, getting harsher with time, killing the aged, women and children, in a battle for existence, trying to eradicate all that is Palestinian from the face of the earth, dreaming of a pure Jewish state that stands on blood and ruins."
The statement condemned the silence of the Arabs:
”During these forty years the Arab rejection [of Israel] has receded and collapsed as peace treaties were signed with the Entity [Israel], leading only to further domination and settlement, so that the Arab [peace] initiative became the demand, the dream of the Arab states which compete with each other in open or secret normalisation [of ties with Israel]."
The Hamas statement continued, "Our people have been steadfast these forty years, holding onto our land, demanding the liberation of all the land, rejecting capitulation and keeping the flame of resistance alive until our Palestinian flag will fly anew over the walls of Jerusalem, the shores of Haifa and Jaffa [emphasis added], the alleys of Hebron, Nablus, Gaza, Jenin and Rafah."
Noting that only the Palestinian resistance had been able to end the Zionist occupation of the Gaza Strip, it stated, "Despite incessant enemy bombings, enemy soldiers could not overcome our brave men, whose weapons may be derided by some."
Remembering those who fell or were wounded in battle, the statement praised their devotion, mentioning by name Sheikh Ahmed Yaseen, Dr Abdel Aziz a-Rantisi, Abu Ali Mustafa, Khalil al-Wazir, Abul Abbas, Ghassan Kanafani, Ismail Abu Shanab, Sheikh Salah Shehadah, Yihya Ayyash, Yasser Arafat, Salah Khalaf, Kamal Nasser, Kamal Adwan, and many others. "Their names are carved in the nation’s memory and on the walls of freedom."
The statement went on to say, “Today we remember our brave prisoners, biting their lips in the darkness of their cells, engraving the meaning of victory on their hearts. They live in pride despite the bitterness of the restrictions and the difficulties, recalling that nearly a quarter of a million Palestinians have been imprisoned during these forty years and, when they leave prison, they are more determined than ever to continue the struggle for the homeland through fighting and sacrifice."
Hamas pledged to keep to this path whatever the pain and cost in lives, "as victory will come like the dawn, an unassailable truth."