May 23, 2003.
“I’m telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in
this area.” So said Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar on Tuesday on BBC – yet
he met last night with Abu Mazen to discuss conditions for a “ceasefire.”
PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen met with leaders of the Hamas terrorist
organization, who laid down some conditions for agreeing to a “year-long
ceasefire” against Israel. These included Israel’s release of all imprisoned Arab
terrorists and its agreement to stop all counter-terrorism activities. By
stipulating such conditions, Hamas was essentially understood to be rejecting
all calls for a ceasefire.
The “fact” that Hamas was willing to discuss a ceasefire at all, however, can
better be understood in light of the words of one of its top leaders, senior
Hamas spokesman Mahmoud A-Zahar, just two days earlier. A-Zahar, one of
the participants in last night’s meeting with Abu Mazen, appeared on Tim
Sebastian’s BBC Hardtalk show on Tuesday. A partial and unofficial transcript:
Question: You [Hamas] say that if Israel withdraws, then the resistance will
stop. [You say:] ‘We are calling for just one condition: An end to the
occupation and the Palestinian suffering.’ Then you would renounce violence
totally, is that what you’re telling me – for now and forever?
Zahar: [no], without conditions. We are not the Palestinian Authority that
we can give things without discussing them, without agreement…
Q. I’m asking you –
Z. Just one thing [we will give] – a ceasefire. A ceasefire is justified in
our religion. Our attitude is that [Palestine] is not a political issue –
Q. Dr. Zahar, I asked you a very simple question: If Israel accepts your
conditions – the elimination of the occupation – will you renounce violence, yes
Z. We are going to ceasefire – only ceasefire.
Q. Yes or no to that condition? Yes, or no?
Z. I, I, I, I answered you. It’s not the way to say yes or no. We are not
going to —
Q. So how can Israel trust your assurances ever? You can’t even give a straight
answer to a straight question. How can they trust your answers?
Z. The question is – just a moment. If Israel withdraws from our land,
and says that they will not re-attack and reoccupy our country – that’s a big if –
they are not going to do that, because they did that before: They occupied our
country in ’48, occupied our areas in ’56, and in ’67, and Lebanon in ’82 – so
Q. You know what you’re telling me? That under no circumstances will you
give up violence until you’ve pushed Israel into the sea. That’s what you want,
Z. Who is saying that?
Q. You’re saying that.
Z. I’m telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a
foreign state in this area.
Q. So until Israel ceases to exist, you won’t lay down your arms. Is that right?
Z. First of all, we are a part of the independent Islamist – this is the
attitude of thousands and millions of people.
Q. Why do you keep on with this attitude? You are seen by many people in the
world as a bunch of ruthless killers, fanatics, terrorists. Are you happy with that
Z. We’re not happy – [but] these people are seeing Islam as an enemy, as
a terrorist, but this is a historical mistake. Because Islam is a supreme power in
this area, sooner or later we are going to achieve our power, our moral
principles, our virtue, in order to implement a real state.
Note by Arutz-7:
The “ceasefire” Zahar says Islam permits is known as a “hudna” – a
temporary cessation of hostilities until one side feels that it is strong enough to
resume the fight. In light of the above Hamas position that “the attitude of
Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area,” the Israeli Government in
fact objects to a ceasefire on the part of the terrorist organizations, which it
says will be used to strengthen themselves and prepare for a renewed attack
against Israel. Israel demands, instead, that Abu Mazen totally disarm the
terrorist groups and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.