An interview with Khaled Meshaal
by Rainer Rupp
RR: But the two-state theory which the Americans are promoting envisages a Palestinian state next to an Israeli state. Is this also absolutely unacceptable for Hamas?
KM: No. No. Let me say that the Hamas movement will only establish a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967; that includes East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Up till now, Israel does not recognize this right for us. All the Palestinians are demanding is this right. But Israel keeps violating Palestinian rights, and the West is unwilling to force Israel to recognize the Palestinian rights.
Even when President Bush talked about a Palestinian state, it was not clear cut. And Ariel Sharon and recently Ehud Olmert have made a lot of reservations about Bush's proposal. They are rejecting the idea of an Israeli state within its 1967 borders. They want an Israeli state, which includes parts of the West Bank. Actually, President Bush had even agreed to Sharon's proposal for Israel to keep all of Jerusalem. And he agreed with Sharon to choose the right Palestinian leader who would accept all this.
RR: Have I understood you correctly that you would be prepared to negotiate with Israel and accept it within its borders of 1967, before it started its wars of aggression, stealing Palestinian land?
KM: Good, that has been made clear.
RR: In the West, Hamas is generally depicted as being absolutely against talks with Israel and [it's believed] that Hamas only wants to drive the Israeli Jews into the sea.
KM: This is not correct. Killing Jews is not our aim. For centuries we have lived in Palestine peacefully with Jews and Christians of all kinds. We are fighting Israel because it occupies our land and oppresses our people. We are fighting Israel to finish this occupation. We want to live freely on our land just as other nations. We want to have our own country just like other people. But the Zionist movement came from all over the world to occupy our land. And the real owner of the land has been kicked out. This is the root of the problem.
Because of many factors, we now accept to build a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967. But that doesn't mean that we recognize Israel. But we are prepared to make a long-term truce with Israel. Accepting the status of Israel without recognizing it.
RR: But no recognition? Doesn't that mean continued tensions and war?
KM: No. There are plenty of examples where no recognition does not mean war. China and Taiwan, for example, have not recognized each other, but they trade and cooperate with each other. By withholding a formal recognition, we just don't want to give Israel the legitimacy for having taken our land in the first place.
RR: The West is reproaching you that in this fight against Israel you are committing acts of terrorism.
KM: No. There is a major difference between terrorism and resistance. We are against terrorism. Resistance is not terrorism. What Israel is doing is terrorism. What we are doing is resistance. Because it is a reaction against the Israeli aggression and a reaction against the Israeli occupation of our land. The resistance is the legal right to defend ourselves.