Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The results of the Israeli election reduce the chances for peace, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal told the BBC on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection is bound to spike extremism, Mashaal, the Qatar-based head of the Hamas political bureau, said.
While Hamas is not seeking an escalation, it will defend itself, he vowed.
“Even in the eyes of the Americans and Europeans, Netanyahu is the most extreme leader, and the one who likes to shed blood the most,” Mashaal told Jeremy Bowen, his interviewer.
Hence, he said, Hamas expects difficult times, “and it is the responsibility of the international community to put a stop to his [the prime minister’s] stubbornness and Israeli extremism.
“Israel, with its extremist leadership, has killed the peace process, the two-state solution and every opportunity for a political solution for the Palestinian cause,” Mashaal said.
He called on the West and the United States “to do something new” and change their approach, which over the years has proved fruitless. This new path should place pressure primarily on Israel, “and not the Arabs and the Palestinians.”
Mashaal pinned the blame for the collapse of American-brokered peace talks and subsequent political stalemate solely on the shoulders of the Jewish state: “We are not the ones who are responsible.”
Questioned about comments made by Israeli leaders linking Hamas to other terrorist organizations in the region, Mashaal there was no Islamic State or al-Qaida in the country.
“There are some lone wolves, but they are isolated,” he countered. “We do not allow such thoughts in Palestine.”
Those who practice violence under the name of jihad are un-Islamic, Mashaal said in the interview, which took place in Qatar.
What the Palestinian people are fighting for – and which separates them from other groups in the Middle East – is “national liberation,” a cause Mashaal said was just and “certainly not terrorism.”