The European Union’s policy towards Gaza and the Palestinian Authority’s attitude to the conflict in Syria are just two of the topics raised in an interview with Mahmoud al-Zahar.
He is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of its leadership in the Gaza Strip. He is also considered one of its more stubborn hard-liners. He talked with euronews reporter, Mohammed Shaikhibrahim.
euronews: “Why have you rejected the Doha Agreement? Hamas inside Palestine had many reservations about it, despite the approval of the agreement by the President of the Political Bureau of Hamas.”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “First, the agreement made in Cairo over four years ago said we needed to form a national unity government, which would not include members of Hamas or Fatah, or even from other Palestinian factions. That is the first point in the Doha agreement.
“The agreement was for a neutral government to hold free and fair elections. There was pressure from the United States of America and Israel not to form a government of national unity. They want a government that accepts the Quartet’s conditions, which are not acceptable to Hamas because of great prejudice against the Palestinian people.
“In other words, the Doha agreement had shortcomings in it which means it cannot guarantee the integrity of the election, Abu Mazen, that is Mahmoud Abbas the President of the Palestinian Authority, would have no part to play in such elections.”
euronews: “Why do you refuse Mahmoud Abbas the chance to be president of the transitional government?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “Because Abu Mazen is in charge of security cooperation with Israel and responsible for the conduct of elections. He is responsible for the arrests of members of Hamas , for the confiscation of money, and for cutting back freedoms, so how can he be objective while ensuring the election results?”
euronews: “After the signing of the Doha agreement, there appeared to be disagreements between the Hamas leadership at home and the Hamas leadership abroad. You complained that Khaled Meshaal when he signed the agreement in Doha didn’t consult fully with the organisation.”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “As I have already said I don’t want to talk about this issue, because it has nothing to do with what happens in Gaza.”
euronews “Do you receive financial and military support from Iran?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “We receive all forms of support from them and the entire Arab and Muslim world. Anyone who wants to give to us, we take. We are weak and our Israeli enemy is a nuclear power.”
euronews: “If Iran was attacked by Israel or the United States of America, what would be the position of Hamas?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “We are against any aggression against any Arab or Muslim, but Iran is a strong country and has the ability to defend itself. It has all the means by which to protect its borders. If Iran was seen to be an easy target Israel would have already attacked.”
euronews: “Let’s be clear. If Iran was attacked, would Hamas remain silent or take military action.”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “I will not answer that question.”
euronews: “Looking at what is happening in Syria at the moment does Hamas support the Syrian regime or the Syrian opposition which is demanding the departure of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and an end to his regime in the country?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “We are not a regional power with impressive international influence. We want a strong Syria.”
euronews: “But Ismail Haniyeh announced weeks before in Cairo that Hamas was supporting the Syrian Revolution. That came as a big surprise and a major change in the strategy of Hamas?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “Let me correct this issue, he said we are in agreement with the demands of the Syrian people, and in fact the Syrian government says it is willing to meet the demands of the Syrian people.”
euronews: “So do you still support the Syrian regime or not?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “I think I answered that more than three times. You’re determined to get an answer.”
euronews: “I am trying to establish if there is still a solid relationship with the Syrian regime, an alliance that still exists.”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “I think my answer to your question is clear, very clear!!
euronews: “So why did Hamas leave Syria at the start of the Syrian Revolution?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “The decision to leave was an individual one and not a departure from the political strategy.”
euronews: “How do you assess the EU’s policy towards what is happening in Gaza since the Hamas movement has been in control there?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “Let me correct you, the movement is not controlling, but we govern according to the results of the election and because the West’s policy is against the development of the Islamic policy, it is described as controlling. We must govern in Gaza and in the West Bank and Jerusalem, because that is the results of the elections.
“The West is again being hypocritical and against the Muslim world and Islamic influences, in particular it doesn’t want to accept the results of free and fair elections, which all the world saw were free and fair.
“I would like to ask those people in the West a series of questions, and I’m sure they know the answers but do not dare to answer any of them.
“The first question is this. What is the origin of our land before 1948, was it a Jewish land? Did it belong to Israel? Or was it the land of the Palestinian Arab, Muslim? That’s a question to which I want them to give me an answer.
“The return of the Jews, after 3,000 years to establish a state because their ancestors were living there, does the West accept what is called the right of return? Does it accept the right of return policy?
“So let us return to Spain again because we left in 1492 and called for the re-occupation of Britain, India, and Arab and Muslim nations, and called for re-occupation by France of Syria, Lebanon, Algeria,
“If you ask the French, what they think of the occupation they will say its illegal. And what about the Nazi’s occupation of France, it is illegal of course and the resistance by Charles de Gaulle’s followers was seen as action by warriors for freedom, but they will not talk about the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the same way, because of their hypocrisy.”
euronews: “What does Hamas expect after the revolution in Egypt, after what happened in Libya and Tunisia and what is going on now in Syria?”
Mahmoud al-Zahar: “The Hamas movement is Islamist, we have the same policy towards what is happening in all of these countries, the same beliefs, the movements which are taking power in Egypt, in Libya in Tunisia and Morocco and also in Yemen.
“We expect the leaders to be elected by democratic means who will represent the people on the street. The leader will support Hamas’ position, and refuse and reject the occupation and aggression within the Palestinian territories. I see a good future for Hamas.”