Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told CBS’s Charlie Rose that “we are not fanatics” and are not fighting “the Jews because they are Jews,” in a Face the Nation show aired on Sunday.
“We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews, per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” said Mashaal.
“We ask for tolerance, for coexistence.”
However, Mashaal then clarified himself, stating, “I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers.”
Asked by Rose if he wanted to coexist with the state of Israel or recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Mashaal responded, “No. I said I do not want to live with a state of occupiers.”
Pressed by Rose, Mashaal dodged answering, stating: “When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. But you cannot actually ask me about the future.”
Prof. Meir Litvak, the director for the Alliance Center of Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University and an expert on Hamas, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Mashaal was only speaking half the truth.
Referring to Hamas statements that they are willing to live with Jews, Litvak points out that “what they have said in the past is that Jews could live as a protected minority under a benevolent Muslim state, and this is the only possible peace.”
“Living with Jews does not mean coexisting with an Israeli state.”
“When he says that he is unwilling to live with occupiers, he is correct. The only point is that he speaks about the 1948 occupation,” said Litvak.
While Hamas seeks a Palestinian state, the key question is about the borders as the organization “has always said that the 1967 borders could never be permanent.”
Hence, Hamas could theoretically accept the 1967 borders temporarily as a tactical move, but without giving up its demand for all of Palestine, he said.
As to Mashaal’s comment that he is not against Jews, Litvak responded that “you can find many statements by Hamas leaders, on Hamas websites and Friday sermons in which they attack the Jews viciously.”
“To sum up, he is a master of evasion,” Litvak said.
The Hamas Charter clearly lays out the group’s ideology and demonstrates why Mashaal was so reluctant to answer the questions without evasion. According to the text of the Charter provided by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Palestine is an Islamic wakf (trust), which belongs “to all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.”
“This is the legal status of the land of Palestine according to Islamic law,” it says going on to make clear that it is against Islam itself to make peace with Israel.
“The initiatives, the so-called peace solutions, and the international conferences for resolving the Palestinian problem stand in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement, for to neglect any part of Palestine is to neglect part of the Islamic faith.”