Hamas’s chief leader, Khaled Meshaal delivered a major address (Farsi) at a Palestine conference in Iran yesterday which shocked many by directly contradicting the view advanced by Ayatollah Khameini, who attacked the two state solution, the PLO’s support for it, and its UN bid. Meshaal, in contrast, praised Mahmoud Abbas for his campaign for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. Keep in mind that Meshaal said this in front of the highest leaders of Iran including Khamieni and Ahmedinejad, all of whom lined up in vehement opposition. It took guts.
Because this is such an important statement and because it has not been reported at all in any English language site, I’m going to quote the article from the Iran’s Radio Farda (funded partially by the U.S. State Department, but whose reporting is considered reliable by Iranians I’ve consulted) in its entirety. I thank Muhammad Sahimi for his translation from the Farsi and Golnaz Esfandiari for leading me to this source:
Khaled Meshal, head of the political office of Hamas in Syria said that the request of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, for recognition of an independent Palestinian state and full membership in the United Nations is a courageous act that must be appreciated and supported. Meshal, who was speaking in the 5th international conference in support of Palestinian Intifada in Tehran, said regarding Abbas’ request, “We cannot deny that this action has had symbolic and moral achievements.”
Meshal expressed his position while Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected, at the same conference, Abbas’ suggestion for an independent Palestine, which recognizes partitioning of the historical Palestine. Last week, Abbas asked the UN to recognize an independent Palestine based on the pre-1967 war borders that will consist of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. An independent Palestine within this area has been agreed on internationally, but so far Israel and Palestinians have not been able to reach any agreement in their peace negotiations. The main reason for the disagreement is Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the problem of Palestinian refugees.
Regarding Mahmoud Abbas’ action at the UN, Ayatollah Khamenei said in his speech at the conference, “Our aim is freedom for [all of] Palestine, not part of it. Any plan that aims to partition Palestine must be completely rejected. The idea of two states that has been covered up with membership of the Palestinian government in the UN is nothing but acceding to the Zionists demands, meaning accepting a Zionist government in the Palestinian land.”
But, describing Abbas’ action, Khaled Meshal said that it has “isolated the Zionist regime and the United States, there is a good international consensus that has revealed the [true] ugly face of the U.S.policy and Israel’s position.” At the same time, Meshal said that the action has its limitation and should not be considered as an end by itself. He demanded to “first liberate Palestinian lands and then ask the United Nations Security Coucil for UN membership.” He also warned against some of the consequences of Abbas’ action.
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic implicitly accused the officials of Palestine Liberation Organization of treason, but Meshal praised them. Ayatollah Khamenei said [about the officials], “Lack of religious beliefs and separation from the people gradually neutralized them [the officials] and made them ineffectual. Of course, there are also decent, motivated and brave people in the Organization but, collectively, the Organization has gone a different way [than what it should have].”
“Their deviation [from the path of resistance] hurt the cause of Palestine and it is still doing so. They, similar to some treacherous Arab governments, turned their backs to the ideals of resistance which were, and still are, the only way for Palestine salvation, and hurt not only Palestine but also themselves.”
On the other hand, Khaled Meshal praised Mahmoud Abbas for asking the UN for recognition of an independent Palestine state and membership in the UN, despite the opposition by the United States, but added, “Now what? Will we limit ourselves to this step? Yes, brother Abu Mazen [Abbas] did not give in to the U.S. pressure and persisted in his action. His courage is praise-worthy and we appreciate and support it.”
We heard in the Israeli media and from other sources before Abbas spoke at the UN, that Hamas officials inside Gaza denounced Abbas’s approach to the UN and instead endorsed a one-state solution. But either this reporting was wrong, or it has been superseded, and in a major way, by a more authoritative source who not only supports the independence bid, but does so strongly and firmly. In truth, Meshaal may differ with Abbas tactically in how or when he would have made the approach to the UN. But this statement and the fact that it was made in Iran, in the anti-Zionist heartland, is very significant.
Not to mention that it might strengthen Abbas’ statehood bid since he will have drawn Hamas, his major rival into support for the proposal. If the Security Council truly does want to support peace and two previously warring Palestinian political groups can endorse the same proposal, there can be no doubt that a Yes vote for statehood would advance Palestinian unity and an eventual peace agreement.
Despite the fact that Radio Farda is a U.S. sponsored media outlet, there can be little doubt that this story does not advance U.S. policy which rejects the UN statehood bid. This makes the story all the more credible.
I doubt Meshal’s words will resonate at all in the halls of power in Tel Aviv, Washington DC, and Brussels where it should (and this fact will attest to the bankruptcy of their approach to the conflict and resolving it), but let us circulate this statement as widely as possible for the sake of those in the world who are pragmatic and believe that the Palestinians, ALL of them, can eventually come to terms with an Israeli state within 1967 borders, which in turn recognizes a Palestinian state.
Keep in mind that Israel’s far right government and its water-carriers in this country talk about “Hamastan” and the fact that Iran supplies virtually all Hamas’ missiles and weapons (without offering any proof of the claim). Now, either Meshaal is being a fool in brooking a major patron, or Iran doesn’t provide nearly the support that is claimed, or Meshaal is one brave dude. When you add to this that Meshaal also refused to provide Bashar Al Assad with the full-throated statement of support the latter demanded to shore up his tottering regime, you have to give the Hamas leader credit for having a backbone. Now, if only the president of a certain western nation could copy his example.