Hamas supporters 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas wants to "liberate the Palestinians," not to destroy Israel, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
In an interview following his talks in Tel Aviv with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Solana insisted that it was "not impossible" for Hamas to change and "recognize the existence of Israel." History had shown that people and nations "adapt to reality," he said. "I don't want to lose hope."
Solana: Reopen crossings to Gaza
Pressed as to whether he was underestimating the fundamentalist religious imperative at the heart of the Hamas ideology, Solana said, "I cannot imagine that the religious imperative, the real religious imperative, can make anybody destroy another country... Therefore that is an abuse of religion...
"I don't think the essence of Hamas is the destruction of Israel. The essence of Hamas is the liberation of the Palestinians," he added. "The liberation of their people, not the destruction of Israel."
Solana, who said he saw himself as "a good friend of Israel," also said that he was concerned that, given the various demographic, security and other considerations, "some of the positions of some leaders of Israel may not be the best recipes to guarantee the security of Israel."
He said, for instance, "I never thought the construction of the security wall was a good idea."
When it was suggested to him that the security barrier had saved hundreds of lives, he said, "I think there were other ways to do it. In any case, the wall should have been constructed on the line of '67."
He said that sometimes Israel's emphasis on security, however important, provided "more insecurity than security," and cited procedures at the Rafah crossing in this context.
He said he disagreed, too, with the positions of incoming minister Avigdor Lieberman, with whom he met on Wednesday. The Israel Beiteinu leader's stances, he said without elaboration, "are very far from the positions of the classical leaders of Israel."
He added that it was important to remember that, as US President George W. Bush had stated, the goal of the peace process in general, and the road map in particular, was to end the occupation that began in 1967 by means of a two-state solution.
Turning to Iran, the EU foreign policy chief said the crisis over Teheran's nuclear program had not yet reached "the red zone," and that the international community was fulfilling its obligation to use diplomacy, and the UN Security Council if diplomacy failed, to deter Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons capability. "Any solution of that [diplomatic or UN] type is better than solutions which are more drastic."
He fully understood Israel's concerns over "some of the actions that Iran is taking" and over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's relentless efforts to delegitimize Israel. "This is the type of statement that should not be allowed to be said," he observed of the Iranian leader's calls to destroy Israel.
A nuclear Iran would be "a big threat. That's why the international community is doing the utmost [to ensure] that it not happen," he stressed.
Finally, although he said his experience of
President Bashar Assad was that the Syrian leader "has not delivered," he suggested it might be wise for Israel to "test the waters" on Syria's recent peace overtures.
"I don't think the prime minister of Israel has to do it," Solana said, but someone should. Quoting former US secretary of state James Baker, he added, "To talk to your enemy is not appeasement."