Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al's press conference on Hizbullah TV channel
Hezbollah’s TV Channel Al Manar broadcast a news conference held by Hamas Politburo head Khalid Mish’al on 15th June:
“...[Mish'al]: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Thanks to God and may God's peace and prayers be upon Prophet Muhammad and all members of his family and friends. I pray to God to show us the right path and lead us to it, and show us the wrong path and divert us from it. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your attendance. The event that occurred over the past few days is certainly major and significant. Normally, small events urge people to reshuffle their cards, so how about major events?
“We are talking to you now with full transparency and frankness and we are truthful with ourselves, our people, our nation, and above all with Almighty God. This is because we are held accountable before God for every small or big deed, and also because He knows us inside out. We think of Him before any other human being, because we hold inside us a religious, national, fraternal, and moral faith. I am directing my talk to those who reshuffle cards, make hasty! decisions, or deliberately misinterpret what has taken place.
“Some simply interpret what happened by saying that Hamas is rushing to establish a state in the Gaza Strip and it wants to separate Gaza from the West Bank. A statement of this sort should be for simple-minded people. Even if the idea of partitioning the homeland were acceptable, no wise person would believe that a state could be established in an area of 360 square kilometres, because it would become a big prison, the biggest prison in history and in the world.
“This cannot be true, as we reject the partitioning of the homeland. Gaza is not for Hamas, neither is the West Bank for Fatah. Gaza and Hamas are part of the homeland, which is for the entire Palestinian people. Neither Fatah nor Hamas is monopolizing the homeland. There could be some antagonist international parties, especially the Zionists, who are attempting to play this tune in order to corner Hamas in Gaza, not out of giving the Strip as a present to Hamas but out of strangling and isolating it.
“This type of thinking is out of the question and will not be realized, assuming that there are sides that are plotting against us and against our people in this regard. The homeland cannot be partitioned and nobody can take a piece of this homeland. The homeland is not for one particular party, but it is for all. We in Hamas respect the brothers in the Fatah Movement. This movement is one of struggle that has a national and struggling history, which we respect because its strugglers are our partners in the homeland, the resistance, the two uprisings, the course of struggle, and the national project. Before the measures that were taken by brother Abu-Mazin we were partners in a national unity government.
“The problem is neither with Fatah nor Abu-Mazin. We respect Abu-Mazin as a person, because of his rank, and for his legitimacy. Nobody can question his legitimacy. He is an elected president and we dealt with him and will continue to deal with him at present and in the future. We cooperated with him on many occasions and will continue to cooperate with him for the sake of national interests. It seems that the crowd of correspondents has heated the atmosphere, or is it because of the events?
“Brothers and sisters, the Hamas Movement has no intention to control the Palestinian Authority or to carry out a coup against the Palestinian political system. When we moved to assume the authority, we approached it through the widest door and by the most legitimate means; namely, the elections of early 2006. Some have accused Hamas of turning away from the legitimacy, and I wonder how this is true since it is part of the legitimacy. Hamas does not monopolize the legitimacy. Brother Abu-Mazin has legitimacy similar to Fatah, Hamas, the struggling groups, the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the national unity government.
“We are part of this legitimacy, so how can we stage a coup against ourselves? Normally, those who seek to carry out a coup are those who do not trust their people and masses. Frankly speaking, we have no illusions about enjoying authority and sovereignty as we are still under occupation. Our authority lacks sovereignty and the enemy is preventing us from establishing it. The enemy destroyed the Palestinian Authority and its security agencies. It is currently occupying and desecrating the entire West Bank and besieging the Gaza Strip; that is, the Strip is under the umbrella of occupation, even after its military withdrawal and removal of settlements from it.
“Accordingly, we do not have such illusions, and reality refutes what some have been claiming that the ongoing fight is for power and that Hamas is happy to see itself in the position of authority. In the past, there were people who were happy about the Palestinian Authority's sovereignty, but when Hamas formed the government they started to claim that it lacked sovereignty. I would like to emphasize that we lacked sovereignty before and after Hamas's assumption of power, because we are still under occupation.
“What we have is an internal affair that we can tackle, not that we are fighting to win power and establish a Palestinian state. It is too early now to establish a Palestinian state because such a stage follows liberation. Unfortunately, the stages were mixed and upturned, and we are still suffering from this mixing of priorities. Which is first, establishing the state or achieving liberation? I say liberation comes first. What happened is that we came to power with the presence of a fait accompli situation. There was an authority with which we dealt for the sake of serving our people and continuing the resistance project until liberation.
“Therefore, what has happened in Gaza? What happened in Gaza in brief is that it was an emergency measure to deal with a state that wanted to impose itself on everybody; that is, imposing itself on our brothers in the Fatah Movement and on the national project through bullying us with the help of an external factor, of which I decline to go into details, mention names, and reopen wounds.
“This party has always been deriving strength from this foreign external factor, the details of which you all know, in order to abort the national unity government as it did with the Hamas government before, and to foil the Mecca Accord - the accord that we rejoiced and thanked God for it, and on whose basis we were able to form the national unity government, halt internal strife, and stop the bloodshed. We reinforced the Mecca Accord by forming the government, but the obstacles that remained unsolved were the security file, the partnership, completing the reorganization of the Palestinian house vis-A -vis the PLO issue, and how to maintain a government that is capable of assuming its powers.
“It is not right that the government remains on one side and the tools for maintaining security remain on the other. The independent interior minister resigned after one month of his appointment when he discovered that the security agencies do not obey the government's orders. Frankly speaking, our people have been suffering for years from the occupation; and, internally, they have been suffering from the chaotic security situation.
“The people elected Hamas for many reasons, including their desire to have it control internal security. There has been a group of people who sought to deprive our people of such security through warlords, chaos, and other matters. I am confident that this constituted a burden on the shoulders of the people and on the shoulders of our brothers in the Fatah Movement and its institutions, which we respect. Accordingly, the tackling of this matter was a must for the benefit of the people and their interests.
“The checkpoints and the security towers required a solution because time was passing and we were in a whirlpool -a whirlpool of establishing a state of calm, reaching agreements, and breaking the state of calm by the eruption of new waves of internal strife. This was the case until we were exhausted and the interests of our people were harmed. It falls within our people's interest, not within one particular group's interest, to maintain the people's security. Imagine how our people can withstand the calamity of the occupation together with the chaotic state of security where an individual cannot feel that his house, car, and money are secured!
“I said it several times, and I conveyed it to Arab officials that the security file is the cause of the crisis, and is the one that ignites it every time. The new crisis erupted when the consecutive acts of killing took place. We were forced to take this emergency measure. We did not want to take it but we were forced to do it. This crisis occurred during the preparations for a comprehensive national dialogue in Cairo, after the arrival of delegations of many Palestinian groups inside and outside the homeland to prepare for a comprehensive meeting in the second half of this month, June.
“We were looking forward to reach a real accord and lay our hand on the core issue that weakens our unity, the interests of our people, and our internal accord; namely, the security file. Therefore, we had no alternative but to adopt this kind of measure. Brother Abu-Mazin, may God forgive him, took a measure, as you have witnessed, that dissolved the government and dismissed the prime minister. I do not want to discuss the legal and illegal aspects of this measure, of which you are aware.
“Nevertheless, the legal aspect of this measure is that the president has the authority to declare a state of emergency, but the body to manage the internal situation in a state of emergency is the current government, not a newly formed emergency government, as the law states. However, the differences are not over the legal aspects, because the Palestinian problem far exceeds the differences over legal matters or legitimacy issues.
“There is the law that we all refer to; brother Abu-Mazin and ourselves have legitimacy, without one side outbidding the other. What we are really facing is a Palestinian crisis, and what brother Abu-Mazin has done does not tackle the issue. Additionally, keeping a government in one part of the homeland and forming an emergency government in the other part will not solve the problem. There is certainly a crisis and division in the Palestinian arena, a reality that, regrettably, we do not ignore.
“It is a regrettable situation, the Palestinian crisis and division are both regrettable, similarly is the Palestinian infighting. Referring to the Palestinian people, Dr Ziyad Abu-Amr, the minister of foreign affairs of our national unity government, said: "If we put these people in a corner and cut off of all supplies from them, including financial support," under such circumstances brothers become unable to tolerate each other.
“Accordingly, I hold the world community mainly responsible for the deteriorating internal Palestinian situation, without excusing ourselves as Palestinians from shouldering our responsibilities. The world community that remained silent about Israel's crimes for many decades, ignored Palestinian suffering, and did not help our people to establish their state, liberate their land, regain their rights, or end occupation.
“What it did was merely to scrutinize our humble options towards defending ourselves and resisting occupation. This world community reversed its democratic values when it penalized the Palestinian people for electing Hamas. It did not respect democracy or the right of people to resist occupation and liberate their occupied territory. It also did not respect the national accord and the national unity government. This community did not respect either the Hamas government or the government that included members of Fatah, Hamas, and the majority of Palestinian groups.
“Following the Mecca Accord, the world community insisted on rejecting the national unity government, maintaining the siege, refusing to deal with our people, and discriminating between ministers. Some parties of the world community, particularly the US Administration and especially the Zionist entity, sought to ignite Palestinian sedition through supporting one team with money and weapons against the other.
“The world community, including the US Administration and the Zionist enemy, are held mainly responsible for our internal Palestinian crisis, notwithstanding that our Palestinian people are also held partially responsible for it. Thus, we have to be frank in order to solve the problem. Therefore, what is the solution? The measures taken by one side against the other do not lead to a solution. We were able to solve the security file, not by organizing the agencies but by removing the obstacles that hampered finding the right solution.
“Besides, the Palestinian crisis and divisions require also a real and radical solution. No one should turn his back against the other. What we need is a Palestinian dialogue under Arab patronage to include us on one side and the brothers in Fatah and brother Abu-Mazin on the other. I made several contacts today with a number of Arab leaders and officials before their ministerial meeting in Cairo. I also contacted the Arab League secretary general and put them in the picture.
“I told them that the Arabs should not be part of the problem but part of the solution and should patronize serious dialogue between us and the brothers in Fatah and brother Abu-Mazin in order to solve the current crisis by laying our hands on the real issues so that we will not repeat the scenario of reaching agreements and breaching them soon after. This dialogue should be based on the principle that the homeland must not be divided; that there should be a central government to manage Gaza and the West Bank, under the concept that this government and homeland is for all.
“It should also be based on the fact that there is no real crisis between Fatah and Hamas as two organizations. I explained the roots of the crisis, focusing on reaching a consensus on this view and solution. I told the Arab officials that there are two main issues which should be resolved during this direct dialogue between us and our brothers in Fatah, including brother Abu-Mazin in his capacity as the president of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO chairman as well as his rank in the Fatah Movement.
“These two issues are: First, the security file, which was the cause of almost all previous events. We asked for resolving this issue following the Mecca Accord and we discussed it with brother Abu-Mazin, who made some progress in this regard. However, there were parties that prevented him and the national unity government from solving the security issue. What is required is what we said in the past and continue to repeat, which is to restructure the Palestinian security services to be national apparatuses that are formed on patriotic and professional basis and not on a partisan and factional basis.
“They should neither be dominated by Fatah nor Hamas and remain far away from the quota principle, in order to avoid dividing the security agencies into divisions dominated by Hamas in Gaza, and others dominated by Fatah in the West Bank. We are seeking to have national apparatuses formed on professional bases to perform the duty of protecting the Palestinian people and their interests -agencies that should have national terms of reference and operate under the Palestinian Government's orders within frameworks that we agree on, such as a national security council or other related matters.
“Brother Abu-Mazin, the prime minister, and all of us are responsible for solving this security problem. This is what is required, and Hamas is ready to walk along this path. I am declaring this before the media as I did through my political contacts. This is not related to the fact that Hamas has a different position in Gaza today and wants to monopolize the situation. We want the security agencies to serve all sides, to have national terms of reference, and to remain distant from quotas or partisan and factional bases.
“The second important issue is how to run our internal affairs and what political tool we have to use. Putting aside all the formulas that have been prepared, we must have a national accord or unity government mainly by agreement between us and the brothers in Fatah and brother Abu-Mazin, and later with all other forces. We all need a national unity government, on whose details, prime minister, type, and duties there should be a consensus. This is a national responsibility. We are standing at a historical crossroads; the homeland and the Palestinian Authority cannot be partitioned since we are all partners.
“The authority is an honour not a profit particularly since we are still under occupation and lacking sovereignty. The path is long and our real battle is manifested in struggle since we are a resistance movement and will use all political and struggle means until we achieve our national project. This is our view. I made several contacts today, as I mentioned earlier, and conveyed this view to those I contacted. We had contacts with some Palestinian parties and discussed this subject with them.
“We will pursue our Arab and Palestinian deliberations during the coming days, God willing. We also had some international contacts with parties concerned with what is happening and about Hamas's view. We clarified our view to them extensively. While the Arab ministerial conference is being held in Cairo now, I wish that it would take a responsible and sound Arab stand that provides an umbrella for an intra-Palestinian dialogue aimed at reaching a Palestinian consensus.
“I explained that there is no need to use the language that supports the legitimacy of one side, but rather the support of the Palestinian legitimacy that comes to power through democratic elections. This is something that we advocate. Concerning the Palestinian public, which represents all the Palestinian people not only Hamas, it is in reality the Palestinian masses. This public is the main body and Hamas is only a part of this body. Hamas does not want to usurp power, as I explained before, but we were obliged to take such a measure.
“I would like to reassure our people inside and outside the territories that we are loyal to them and to those whose interests were harmed, not deliberately, during this regrettable strife that we stand on their side to compensate them for their losses. They are great people, of which we are proud and will always be on their side, God willing. We definitely do not approve any misdeed that has fallen to them.
“Concerning my brothers in the Hamas Movement, I would like to tell them not to think that this is the battle that we have been preparing ourselves for, but rather an emergency measure to tackle a chronic and deteriorating issue; that our real and only battle was and will continue to be against the occupation until it leaves our territories. My brothers in Hamas, be guided by this compass and behave with high standing as we have been accustomed to seeing you. Thanks to God, the steps that were taken, including the release of all our brothers, even those who did us wrong, fought against us, or those on whom we still have question marks, have been accomplished.
“Hopefully we will be able to spare Palestinian blood with the help of God. Our brothers in Fatah and all other groups are our partners and this is the language that should prevail. I call on our brothers in Hamas to be more humble and peaceful with their brothers and to be extremely humble before God Almighty. We want you to be vigorous in front of the occupation and humble before God; peaceful with your brothers in Fatah and the other forces within real brotherly ties.
“There are some points that are in the process of being tackled, yet there are some mistakes, which are being rectified. I want to frankly ask my brothers in Hamas not to hoist the flag of Hamas on official Palestinian establishments, as these establishments do not belong to Hamas. These flags can be hoisted only on Hamas's centres side by side with the Palestinian flag. The Palestinian flag should be hoisted only on national establishments, although it came to my knowledge that the Palestinian flag was hoisted with the flag of a certain political party in the past. Thus, we want to correct things.
“The enemy that is watching and claiming to be polite and uninterested in interfering in our affairs; thus, trying to play with our nerves and feelings and sometimes misleading us, is originally the main source of disasters that befell our people. This enemy that has been seeking to add fuel to the fire and ignite seditions can neither fool us in Hamas nor in Fatah. All sincere and loyal persons cannot be deceived by the Zionist enemy's ploys.
“Hamas does not care whether the events have benefited the enemy or not, because it knows well its duty for national struggle and how to steer the battle against the occupation. The enemy should not even think of exploiting our internal differences, as it did in the past, because we will not fall into its trap. We are definitely facing internal difficulties because we are running a national administration under occupation.
“The circumstances are complicated because we do not have freedom; but our national project and that of liberation and resisting occupation remain to be our main bases. Let the enemy behave as it wants and we will behave according to the Palestinian national interest. My brothers in the Fatah Movement, concerning the West Bank, someone may say that what you have done in Gaza will be repeated in the West Bank.
“What happened in Gaza was not directed against Fatah, and I swear to God that the Gaza events were not directed against the Fatah Movement, our partner in struggle and of whose history, leaders, and figures we are proud. Our crisis is not with Fatah, as I said earlier, because you all know who carried out a coup against brother Abu-Ammar may God's mercy be upon him, at a late stage before his death. Your crisis is the same as ours; therefore, do not shift sedition to the West Bank.
“We should not be dragged into sedition and into what is being taking place. This does not mean that Hamas in the West Bank is weak, because thousands of its men and leaders are imprisoned and because its members are not allowed to move freely unarmed, let alone if they are armed. No, this is not the reason, and we have never felt that we are weak. However, what is taking place in Gaza should not be repeated in the West Bank. I appeal to my brothers in the Fatah Movement and its official institutions, the Palestinian Authority, and brother Abu-Mazin, whom I believe does not also approve of what is currently taking place.
“However, an end should be put to it because it is not right. Our brothers in the West Bank will be patient, not because they are incapable, but because they are aware of their duty and know that their only battle is directed against the Zionist occupation. Concerning the Arab and Islamic worlds, I am reluctant to convey to them a message of reassurance because we are not a hobgoblin to fear us. If some of our Arab brothers, may God forgive them, use US and Israeli expressions such as 'a military coup', they should not use it as an excuse to antagonize Hamas.
“This is because these parties do not need an excuse to do that. When we came to power through democracy they antagonized, boycotted, and plotted against us; thus, this is not an excuse. Hamas is against coups and will not stage a coup. Had we wanted to stage a coup, we could have formed a government in Gaza. We tell brother Abu-Mazin that Gaza is for him, as it is for us, similarly the West Bank; and that his authority is exercised in the West Bank the same as it is exercised in Gaza. Abu-Mazin is the president of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the West Bank together.
“Hopefully, we will be able to establish authority in the entire territory! of the homeland, within the PLO framework, to include the Palestinians inside and outside the homeland. Thus, we are not coupists and, consequently, we do not want anybody to exaggerate the story and portray us as a hobgoblin that spreads contagious coup d' etats since they said earlier that Hamas was spreading contagious democracy over neighbouring countries. All these exaggerations are baseless.
“None of our Arab brothers should be worried about viewing us as an Islamic fundamentalist project. We are Muslims, but do not monopolize Islam, and are proud of being Muslims and of being Arabs, Palestinians, and civilized human beings. However, we are originally a national liberation movement and our main objective is to resist occupation and achieve our national project side by side with the rest of the Palestinian forces. Our objective is not what some have been accusing us of; that is, imposing Islam on our society.
“Our people are free to engage in politics, hold meetings, employ intellect, and be religious. We do not impose religion, our beliefs, or our social, intellectual, and religious programme on any one. I would like to reassure the neighbouring countries that we do not export revolutions or spread contagious thoughts. We approach any Arab state through its legitimate gateway. We have ties with Islamic, national, pan-Arab, and leftist forces, but our dealings with any Arab country take place through official channels; namely, the regime, regardless of our agreement or disagreement with it. We do not interfere in the affairs of others.
“Also, we do not want others to scoff at us by attributing anything we do to regional accounts. This means that Syria is a superpower and Iran is a mega power. These exaggerations are inappropriate. Our project is a national one and our accounts are also national. We challenge any side that has more national accounts. Maintaining good relations with Arabs and Muslims is a duty for which we are honoured, not disgraced. What are disgraceful are the US and Israeli terms of reference, not our ties with the Arabs and Muslims.
“However, nobody can possess us. We have good ties with Arabs and Muslims, but we are absolutely not possessed by any of them. Our sole terms of reference are our leadership's institutions and our people's national interests. The point before the last is the international troops, within the context of cornering Hamas's will in Gaza. I responded to this issue regardless of whether the offer has come from abroad or from within the territories.
“The UN troops are rejected. Hamas will not accept international forces. I heard some say that we need the deployment of Arab troops; we do not need Arab troops; what we need is Arab sponsorship or umbrella that helps us to achieve accord and to stand on our side. The Arabs took such a stand during previous dialogues in Cairo, Mecca, Syria, and other countries, of which we are proud. We are looking forward for an Arab moral, political, public, and financial sponsorship, all of which we need. I thank the states that declared their rejection of the idea of the international forces, such as Malaysia and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
“Finally, we have been following up the case of British journalist Alan Johnston. Despite this, the British know where the journalist is being held, that neither Hamas nor any other group are responsible for this issue, and that we totally reject the kidnapping. Jilad Shalit is not abducted but is a war prisoner taken from our enemy with whom we are in a state of war. We reject abduction because it distorts the image of the Palestinian people.
“We have been following up on this file since the beginning of the crisis -and the British are aware of it -as a movement, government, and as a Palestinian Authority. I discussed this issue with brother Abu-Mazin in Cairo, explaining that we are examining the case. I urged my brothers in the Gaza Strip today and yesterday in light of the new situation to double their efforts to solve the problem of Alan Johnston, by exerting various efforts with the party that kidnapped him in order to guarantee his release.
“I am confident that the side that kidnapped Johnston would realize, in light of the new circumstances, that the national interest is not in continuing his abduction. I hope, without promising, that his release will be soon, God willing, within our capabilities. This is because the problem is not in our hands; however it stems from our national duty to double our efforts today to have him released.
“Lastly, I would like to say that our Palestinian situation is complicated and very difficult, and the crisis is grave; however, we pin great hope on God, the wise Palestinian people on all sides, and on the Arab patronage to succeed in solving this crisis, with God's blessing. I welcome you all..." - TV - Middle East, Middle East