Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Azzam Tamimi

Visiting Professor

Nagoya University Japan

BBC Arabic radio asked a so-called expert about what he thought Hamas should be doing now that it is likely to be the next government in the Palestinian territories. He said Hamas has to change because the Palestinian people would want a government that recognizes Israel, that is willing to resume peace negotiations and that will in turn be acceptable to the United States. If this is truly what the Palestinian people wanted they might as well have settled for Fatah and not elected Hamas.

The people of Palestine gave Hamas their trust exactly because it is not what the expert was suggesting; it does not recognize the State of Israel, it is not willing to pursue a humiliating and illusive peace that does away with Palestinian rights and it is more interested in being accepted by the Palestinian people than by the USA or anybody else.

Furthermore the Palestinian people chose Hamas because of its clean and supportive hands; Hamas has proven itself to be a movement that carries the people on its back instead of riding on their backs. Hamas was given the vote because of the sacrifices it made in order for Palestinian rights to remain intact.

The fact that Hamas does not, and will not, recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel or its right to exist, does not mean that Hamas is not capable of negotiating a peace deal that would end the bloodshed and give both sides a break from the pain and suffering. Hamas would negotiate a settlement based on the concept of ! hudnah (truce). As far as Hamas is concerned, and that is the position of the majority of the Palestinian people inside as well as outside Palestine, Israel exists on land stolen from the Palestinian. The creation of the state of Israel was a solution to a European problem and the Palestinians are under no obligation to be the scapegoats for Europe's Whiteman's failure to recognize the Jews as human beings worthy of respect and entitled to inalienable rights. Hamas, like all the Palestinians, refuse to be made to pay for the criminals who perpetrated the Holocaust. However, Israel for Hamas is a reality and that is why it is willing to deal with that reality in a manner that is compatible with its values and principles.

It would be a grave mistake on the part of the Israelis, but more so the American and the Europeans, to ignore the wish of the Palestinian people to be represented by the likes of Hamas. Instead of making 'politically correct' statements about Hamas having to do this or that the Europeans must lead the way in recognizing that Hamas today speaks for the Palestinians and therefore has to be communicated with.

Contrary to the claims of alarmists who see the election victory by Hamas a threat to peace, a new horizon for peace making is at our threshold. The entire peace making episodes of the past were based on assumptions absolutely unacceptable to the majority of the Palestinians and those who support their just cause. From Oslo to the Road Map it was always assumed that Israel was the victim that needed to live in peace and security and that the key to this was the end of Palestinian terrorism. The new peace episode that Hamas may indeed be willing to be part of should be based on the fact that the Palestinians are the victims and have been victims since Israel was created on their soil. It is not Palestinian terrori! sm that is the problem but Israeli aggression.

The late Sheikh Ahmad Yassin who was cut into pieces and his brain poured out of his skull when Israel shot him with an air to surface missile spelled it out for all to ponder a long time ago. He said we shall never recognize the theft of our land but we are willing to negotiate a ceasefire whose duration can be as a long as a generation's life and let future generations on both sides decide where to go then. His conditions for the cease fire are in total agreement with international law and are as fair to both sides as anyone can get. Israel has to give back what it occupied in 1967 as it was then without any Jewish settlements or settlers and has to release all Palestinian prisoners. For that Hamas would be willing to halt its armed struggle and instead pursue peaceful means.

The IRA whose leaders sit in the House of Commons and who negotiated a deal with the British gov! ernment continue to dream of uniting Northern Ireland with the rest of the Republic; it was never a condition for the peace talks that they should first abandon the dream.

Well, let the Palestinians dream of the end of Israel and let the Israelis dream of Eretz Yizrael from the Nile to the Euphrates but let's negotiate an end to the violence. Hamas alone is capable of that because Hamas will not give up the right of the Palestinians to go back to the villages and towns from which the terrorists who stole their land to build their own state drove them away.

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