What Hamas Is Seeking
By Mousa Abu Marzook
The Washington Post31 January 2006
DAMASCUS, Syria -- A new era in the struggle for Palestinian liberation is upon us. Through historic fairand free elections, the Palestinian people have spoken.
Accordingly, America's long-standing tradition ofsupporting the oppressed's rights to self-determination should not waver. The United States, the European Unionand the rest of the world should welcome the unfolding ofthe democratic process, and the commitment to aid shouldnot falter. Last week's victory of the Change and Reform Party in the Palestinian legislative elections signals anew hope for an occupied people.
The results of these elections reflect a need for changefrom the corruption and intransigence of the pastgovernment. Since its creation 10 years ago, the Palestinian Legislative Council has been unsuccessful inaddressing the needs of the people. As the occupationsolidified its grip under the auspices of "peaceagreements," quality of life deteriorated for Palestinians in the occupied territories. Poverty levels soared,unemployment rates reached uncharted heights and the lackof basic security approached unbearable depths. Agrass-roots alternative grew out of the urgency of this situation. Through its legacy of social work andinvolvement in the needs of the Palestinian people, theIslamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) flourished as apositive social force striving for the welfare of all Palestinians. Alleviating the debilitative conditions ofoccupation, and not an Islamic state, is at the heart ofour mandate (with reform and change as its lifeblood).
Despite the pressures of occupation and corrupt self-rule, Palestinian civil society has demonstrated its resiliencein the face of repressive conditions. Social institutionscan now be given new life under a reformed government thatembraces the empowerment of the people, facilitates freedoms and protects civil rights.
Our society has always celebrated pluralism in keepingwith the unique history and traditions of the Holy Land.In recognizing Judeo-Christian traditions, Muslims nobly vie for and have the greatest incentive and stake inpreserving the Holy Land for all three Abrahamic faiths.In addition, fair governance demands that the Palestiniannation be represented in a pluralistic environment. A new breed of Islamic leadership is ready to put into practicefaith-based principles in a setting of tolerance andunity.
In that vein, Hamas has pledged transparency ingovernment. Honest leadership will result from the accountability of its public servants. Hamas has elected15 female legislators poised to play a significant role inpublic life. The movement has forged genuine and lastingrelationships with Christian candidates.
As we embark on a new phase in the struggle to liberatePalestine, we recognize the recent elections as a voteagainst the failures of the current process. A new "roadmap" is needed to lead us away from the path of checkpoints and walls and onto the path of freedom andjustice. The past decade's "peace process" has led to adramatic rise in the expansion of illegal settlements andland confiscation. The realities of occupation include humiliating checkpoints, home demolitions, open-endedadministrative detentions, extrajudicial killings andthousands of dead civilians.
The Islamic Resistance Movement was elected to protect thePalestinians from the abuses of occupation, based on its history of sacrifice for the cause of liberty. It would bea mistake to view the collective will of the Palestinianpeople in electing Hamas in fair and free elections underoccupation as a threat. For meaningful dialogue to occur there should be no prejudgments or preconditions. And wedo desire dialogue. The terms of the dialogue should bepremised on justice, mutual respect and integrity of theparties.
As the Israelis value their own security, Palestinians are entitled to their fundamental rights to live in dignityand security. We ask them to reflect on the peace that ourpeoples once enjoyed and the protection that Muslims gavethe Jewish community worldwide. We will exert good-faith efforts to remove the bitterness that Israel's occupationhas succeeded in creating, alienating a generation ofPalestinians. We call on them not to condemn posterity toendless bloodshed and a conflict in which dominance is illusory. There must come a day when we will livetogether, side by side once again.
The failed policies of the U.S. administration are theresult of the inherent contradiction in its position asIsrael's strongest ally and an "honest broker" in the conflict. World nations have condemned the brutal Israelioccupation. For the sake of peace, the United States mustabandon its position of isolation and join the rest of theworld in calling for an end to the occupation, assuring the Palestinians their right to self-determination.
We appeal to the American people's sense of fairness tojudge this conflict in light of the great thoughts,principles and ideals you hold dear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the democracy you havebuilt. It is not unreasonable to expect America topractice abroad what it preaches at home. We can butsincerely hope that you use your honest judgment and the blessings of ascendancy God has given you to demand an endto the occupation. Meaningful democracy cannot flourish aslong as an external force maintains the balance of power.It is the right of all people to pursue their own destiny.
The writer is deputy political bureau chief of the IslamicResistance Movement (Hamas). He has a U.S. doctorate inengineering and was indicted in the United States in 2004as a co-conspirator on racketeering and money-laundering charges in connection with activities on behalf of Hamasdating to the early 1990s, before the organization wasplaced on the list of terrorist groups. He was deported toJordan in 1997.