Following on a post I published here about a Wahington Post story on the “new pragmatism” of Hamas, Khaled Meshal expanded on these themes in an AP interview in which he affirmed Hamas support for a Palestinian state established through Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders. Though the Islamist movement’s chief leader refused to renounce violence as a tool in the fight for Palestinian rights, he made clear that violence was a tactical, and not a strategic choice; and that his first choice would be the types of “popular resistance” exhibited during the Arab Spring uprisings and the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987:
Popular protests have “the power of a tsunami,” Mashaal said, pointing to the recent waves of demonstrations across the Arab world.
“Now we have a common ground that we can work on — the popular resistance, which presents the power of people,” he said. The idea for the protests originated with the Palestinians themselves and the uprising they launched against Israel in 1987, he said, typified by crowds of rock-throwing Palestinian youths confronting heavily armed Israeli soldiers.
Mashaal also gave rare Hamas public support to the idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
Pointedly, Meshal, in reaffirming Hamas support for a Palestinian state, did not mention the traditional Hamas fudging tactic, offering a hudna in its struggle against Israel:
We have political differences, but the common ground is the state on the ’67 borders. Why don’t we work in this common area,” he said.
There is no magic bullet as far as Hamas is concerned. It won’t all of a sudden become a liberal social democratic movement that is to the taste of Israel, the U.S. and the western world. Nor should that be necessary to take it seriously as one of two Palestinian interlocutors that must be included in any discussions that would resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a related matter, The NY Times’ Isabel Kershner continues to lie about Hamas’ views about Israel. This recent passage is exemplary of her sweeping distortions of the group’s position:
…Hamas, the Islamic militant group that…is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
While there is certainly no love lost between Israel and Hamas, no senior Hamas official that I know of has in the recent past (the past few years) made any such statement. And the group would certainly, from their point of view have reason to do so after Operation Cast Lead, the Mavi Marmara killings, and years of punishing siege. Though I don’t find Hamas an exemplar of democracy (nor Fatah or Israel for that matter), statements like Kershner’s and Bronner’s do a disservice to a full understanding of the nuance of the conflict.