Ismail Haniyeh INTERVIEW with an Italian paper

June 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm 1 comment

by Umberto De Giovannangeli

Translated from Italian by Daniela Filippin for and 

“All the victims of the Israeli attack are to be considered martyrs of the Palestinian cause. And as such they shall be remembered… Israel has committed its umpteenth act of terrorism. State terrorism. Exactly like the siege of Gaza.” Thus speaks Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Hamas. “How can one speak of negotiation, even indirectly” adds Mr Haniyeh, in this exclusive interview granted to L’Unità, “with someone who commits and lays claim to such criminal acts? The Palestinian people’s answer to this act of State terrorism is united, strong and determined. It’s a determination that President Abbas (Abu Mazen) must also show: we once again appeal to the PLO to cease all negotiations with Israel, both direct and indirect. There’s no point in continuing to negotiate in the light of a crime that stretches beyond all limits of acceptability.” 

Israel has stressed that it will prevent with every means available the lifting of the Gaza blockade. What is Hamas’s reply?

“It’s every Palestinian’s reply – we don’t intend to give in to those who practice State terrorism as policy. In these last few days I hear words like “truth” and “justice” being used from all sides… But the word “justice” has no real meaning when Israel is involved. International investigations have reported the crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces during the war provoked in Gaza. Well, no one has ended up being held accountable for those crimes. The truth is that Israel continues to enjoy a total international impunity. It shall not be stopped in its tracks by words of condemnation or appeals towards moderation. Including appeals to free Palestine…”

President Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has defined the “Freedom Flotilla” assault an act of State terrorism…

“President Abbas can’t shut his eyes and ears off to the outrage of an entire people. But President Abbas must draw his conclusions, act out on these words of condemnation…”

What does Hamas think that “acting out” should involve?

“Interrupt all negotiations, whether direct or indirect, with Israel. There’s no point talking with someone who knows and practices only the language of violence…”

This is a language that Hamas itself has never stopped using…

“The right to resistance is recognized even by the Geneva Convention. We are resisting against one of the world’s most powerful armies. The United States and Europe all too often pretend to forget that the blockade on Gaza has been imposed by Israel after Hamas won the first free elections in the Territories. Ours was a government legitimized by the vote. But this has counted for nothing to the Israelis. The population of Gaza had to be punished for its choice. They did this by starving it, by turning Gaza into an open-air prison… We continue to fight against this state of affairs. If the word “justice” still had any sense, the international community would be imposing the end of the siege on Israel. But that won’t happen anytime soon.”

The fact remains that President Abbas has announced that in spite of everything, the indirect negotiations will continue…

“If this will indeed happen, it’ll be a very serious state of affairs, especially at such a time. Resistance against the Israeli aggression requires unity rather than choices that bring fragmentation.”

Some claim that the assault on the pacifist ships was a gift to Hamas…

“This claim is outrageous, cynical and shameful, and an insult to the victims of this act of Israeli piracy. Only those who’ve forgotten Gaza could have been surprised by the Israelis’ actions. Their arrogance knows no bounds. Just like their impunity. All the victims of the Israeli attack are to be considered martyrs of the Palestinian cause. And as such they shall be remembered. Always.”

You spoke of “language of force”. But in the “language of Hamas”, the word negotiation exists.

“Of course. But it isn’t synonymous with surrender…”

Even those who consider the exclusion of Hamas from the peace process an error ask for a sign of aperture from you: recognizing the State of Israel.

“It’s as if a victim were ask to recognize, and thus to legitimize their aggressor. I want to be even more explicit on this point: any form of recognition cannot help but become a part of a negotiation, not a form of prejudicial conduct. Hamas is willing to negotiate a long-term hudna (truce) with Israel. The condition is that the Gaza siege be lifted and the colonization of the Occupied Territories should cease immediately, including that of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). This is our request. As you can see, it’s perfectly in line with the requests of many world leaders… Yet Israel’s response has been there for everyone to see.”

Speaking of the “Freedom Flotilla”: Israel branded the organizers and participants as “pro-Hamas”.

“To the Israeli propaganda this is equivalent to turning them into criminals. To us it would be an honour. But it’s not the case. The hundreds of people who’ve challenged Israel’s State terrorism were moved by a profound sense of justice and solidarity towards an oppressed people, who are prevented from traveling, and brought to the limits of starvation. They challenged the Israeli army. This makes them heroes.”

You’ve asked the International Community to do something to lift the blockade of Gaza. Would Hamas agree to accept an international interposition force stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel?

“That’s a possibility. It needs to be discussed, to clarify the conditions and the details.”

Can a model of reference be South Lebanon’s UNIFIL?

“Yes, it could be.”

(with the cooperation of Osama Hamdan)


Entry filed under: English, Israel, Italy, Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , .

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