Transcript of interview with
Khalid Mish’al of Hamas
BBC Radio 4
Introduced by James Naughtie
Hamas will soon be taking
power over the Palestinians, brought to power in those elections last
month. Now, this is an organisation committed
to the destruction of
KM: When countries are free and you are independent of course democracy does not go with violence. We would practice democracy and peaceful means without violence. But when there is occupation, there is no contradiction between democracy and what the West calls violence, which is in this case resistance. Violence in independent countries is totally rejected. But when you resist occupation, resistance is legal and democracy is a mechanism to choose Palestinian leaders, based on democracy and sharing of authority.
JB: So, does that mean then that you’re not going to change the Hamas charter, as the big donor countries have requested?
KM: Why doesn’t the international community ask
JB: Now, Hamas has been democratically elected, but Hamas as an organisation is listed by the Americans and by the EU as a terrorist group, so they will continue to put more pressure on you, we can assume I think, than they put pressure on the Israelis, so what are you going to do about it? That’s the whole point. Will you want to stick with your truce or are you going to go back to attacks on Israelis?
KM: This is not our problem. This is the problem of the international community and the nations that deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas won an election. It acquired the legal mandate through voting and at the same time Hamas practices its right to resist the occupation. Now the international community faces a contradiction: it considers Hamas a terror organisation and this is an unfair description of Hamas because Hamas does what the British and French did when they were up against the Nazi occupation.
JB: OK, here’s a situation: imagine after the Israeli elections, the next Israeli government says to you, says to Hamas, we’ll negotiate, we’re prepared to talk about everything. What would your answer be?
KM: Previous Israeli governments had the chance to
negotiate with Yasser Arafat and then with Mahmoud Abbas. What did
JB: Let’s get this clear.
You’re saying that there’s no problem with the two-state solution, if
JB: Hamas has talked about this
truce before and
KM: The truce would be long term but limited, because there is a Palestinian reality that the international community must deal with. There are those kicked out of their land in 1948 – the international community must find a solution for those people. The international community now speaks of lasting and just peace, but how can we achieve such a peace if there are Palestinians who feel that they did not get their rights. There’s a problem that happened to the Palestinians: they were a people that used to live on their land, but did not find justice from the international community. There are roots to the problem. But, in reality, we now say that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders there could be peace and security in the region, and agreement between the sides, until the international community finds a way to solve everybody’s problems, and to find a way to give back the rights to the people and find a way to end the oppression of people who used to live on their land, but were forced out of it.
JB: Is there any solution that you see that would involve
KM: If the international community is talking about a
permanent solution, then it has to find out what the roots of the problem are
and what the Palestinian rights are. The
search for a final solution requires us to go back to the roots of the problem
and how it began.
JB: So if