Hamas leader Hassan Yousif in his living room in Beitunia, a suburb of Ramallah, September 6, 2017..
(photo credit: ADAM RASGON)
Hamas is ready to strike a long-term cease-fire deal with Israel, if it lifts its closure on the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official in the West Bank Hassan Yousef told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Hamas is prepared to make a long-term cease-fire with the Israeli occupation, in return for it allowing the residents of Gaza to live like all other people in the world with everything that they need,” Yousef, who helped found Hamas, said in an interview in his living room in Beitunya, a suburb of Ramallah, the de facto political capital of the Palestinian Authority.
“I mean the Israeli occupation needs to allow for freedom of movement – going and coming for travelers, students, sick people, expatriates, and all others who desire to move – exports and imports and everything else. It needs to lift its oppressive siege,” he said.
Yousef’s comments came less than a week after he was released from Israeli prison, where he had been held for 22 months under administrative detention. During the last six days, he has hosted local Palestinians at his home, attended a funeral of a Hamas leader in the northern West Bank and spoken on the telephone with senior Hamas officials in Gaza.
According to Yousef, if Israel lifts its closure on the Strip, it would not have to worry about Hamas’s commitment to a cease-fire.
“We are a movement that holds firmly to its commitments,” Yousef said. “Since the last war [in 2014], we have not been firing rockets into Israel – that is because of strategic calculations, but also because we are beholden to our commitments.”
Since Operation Protective Edge three years ago, Hamas has not fired a rocket into Israel, but a number of Salafist and other groups have. However, during the same period, Hamas has encouraged and praised stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis in Israel and the West Bank.
In his interview with the Post
, Yousef also talked about his latest experience in Israeli prison, the Hamas prison leadership’s relationship with the Israel Prisons Service, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Hamas’s recent understandings with self-exiled Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan, Hamas’s status in the West Bank, Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts, US President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the peace process, and a number of other issues.
Yousef has six sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Mosab Yousef, converted to Christianity and worked with the Shin Bet to prevent attacks on Israeli civilians.
Mosab spoke at The Jerusalem Post
Conference in New York in 2015.
The full interview with Yousef will appear in Friday’s paper.