Mashaal on Hamas: We are not fanatical killers

Hamas chief says Syria should have pursued a diplomatic route.

Mashaal looks funny 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mashaal looks funny 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas Chief Khaled Mashaal spoke about Hamas distancing themselves from Syria, the conflict with Israel and Hamas-Fatah relations in an interview with Foreign Policy released on Tuesday.
Mashaal outlined the reasons for breaking off from Syrian support, a move which caused Hamas to receive a great deal of negative feedback from Syria and Iran.
"(The Assad regime) took the wrong option - they were wrong about their vision toward the conflict. Not only toward their internal conflict in Syria, but toward the whole Arab Spring," Mashaal told FP.
He regretted that Syrian President Bashar Assad chose not to follow the path of democracy and political efforts which "would have reinforced the power of the country, the bonds between the people and their leadership, and it would have been for the best interest of the country."
Mashaal also confessed that he had put together a seven-step political plan for Assad to try and close the gaps with the rebels peacefully, which he said Assad chose to ignore.
Discussing the conflict with Israel, Mashaal reiterated his stance of rejecting a two-state solution and attacked US Secretary of State John Kerry's latest efforts to restart peace talks.
"(Kerry does) not have a serious project or vision," Mashaal said while placing the blame entirely on Israel's shoulders.
"The international community should work on the real problem...Israel occupies the lands...they are practicing the worst kind of killing," he said.
He also noted that one of the more urgent problems facing any return to peace talks was the "Judaization" of Jerusalem where his people "are suffering."
This remark seemed to contradict a comment he made later in the interview when he said, "we are not against the Israelis because they hold a different faith, or because they are from a different race."
He went on to assert that the conflict with the Israelis stems entirely from the fact that they "are occupiers of our land."
In regards to Hamas' relationship with Fatah, Mashaal implied that Hamas would continue with military resistance, while Fatah would continue with their diplomatic efforts, in a "to each their own" approach.
"The (military) resistance of Hamas is a means to an end, it is not a goal by itself," Mashaal said, "popular resistance is another option, as is diplomacy, work in the media arena and to try to make the occupation pay the price of its crimes in the legal arena."
Mashaal attempted to soften the world view on Hamas' military efforts saying, "we are not fanatic killers...we are not bloodthirsty people."