Hamas leader: ‘Israelis are playing games’
Posted by Akhi Soufyan
Senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan says that any ceasefire with Israel must include lifting the siege on Gaza.
‘We are ready to defend our people until we achieve what we are asking for,’ the Hamas leader told Al Jazeera [AFP]
As Israel’s assault on Gaza enters its third week, the latest round of diplomatic efforts has yielded a 12-hour truce which both Israel and Palestinian resistance factions agreed to commit to. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he hopes the break in fighting will be extended to a seven-day ceasefire.
More than 980 Palestinians have been killed since the war in Gaza began, while protests and more clashes have now spread to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
But many questions remain over whether a long-term ceasefire is on the horizon. Israel has said it wants a fully demilitarised Gaza Strip, while the leadership of Palestinian faction Hamas is asking for the Israeli-Egyptian siege of the territory to be lifted and for Palestinian prisoners to be released.
Al Jazeera sat down with Osama Hamdan, one of Hamas’ senior leaders and head of foreign relations, to discuss the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, what the group has achieved militarily and diplomatically, and what the future prospects of a long-term solution are.
Al Jazeera: Kerry has announced a plan for a two-front initiative, a humanitarian truce followed by a ceasefire. What is the minimum Hamas is willing to accept for either to happen?
Osama Hamdan: We, the Palestinian resistance factions, have declared as a resistance [movement] that the ceasefire is supposed to not only be a truce but also has to result in lifting the siege on Gaza, opening the border crossings, and [for Palestinians in Gaza] to have free access to the world. We are also talking about a port and an airport.
[Our demands] also included the release of a number of Palestinians Israel arrested in the West Bank after Israel violated the 2012 ceasefire.
Arrests included Palestinian parliament speaker and [Hamas member Aziz Dweik] as well as at least 60 Palestinians who were released from prison based on the prisoners swap agreement which both parties agreed to. [Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who had been captured by Hamas in 2006.]
This was meant to happen together. We are ready to talk about the schedule and the timings but we are not ready to ignore any of those demands.
|I think Kerry understands more than anyone how the Israelis are playing games. They say yes and then they do nothing.
– Osama Hamdan, senior Hamas leader and head of foreign relations
AJ: So there is no delineation between a truce and ceasefire for Hamas at this point?
Hamdan: If the [ceasefire] initiative includes what we are asking for, then we will deal with it positively and we may go to the ceasefire directly.
I think Kerry understands more than anyone how the Israelis are playing games. They say yes and then they do nothing.
So he has to be clear with them, and he also has to give guarantees that the Israeli side will deliver what will be asked of them.
AJ: There is international pressure to immediately accept a humanitarian truce, rather than waiting for a long-term ceasefire that specifically requests that the siege be lifted. What is your response?
Hamdan: Accepting an immediate truce will not solve the problem. If they are talking about a humanitarian ceasefire, part of that will have to do with lifting the siege.
We cannot talk about a humanitarian solution while there is a blockade on Gaza, where we do not have medicine, essential needs, and reconstruction materials entering Gaza.
You cannot put Palestinians in a jail and tell them to live quietly.
About Akhi SoufyanIf you see goodness from me, then that goodness is from The Creator. You should be thankful to The Creator for all of that. Cause I'm not the architect of that. I'm only the...the recipient. If you see weakness or shortcoming in me it's from my own weakness or shortcoming. And I ask The Creator and the people to forgive me for that. _______________________________ Website eigenaar voor een betere wereld en doel, niet gericht op verdiensten van geld maar goede daden. In de naam van Allah, de Barmhartige. Als je goedheid van mij ziet, dan is dat de goedheid van de Schepper (God). Wees De Schepper dankbaar voor dat. Want ik ben daar niet de architect van, ik ben alleen de ontvanger.
Posted on July 26, 2014, in NEWS and tagged al jazeera, are, ceasefire, free palestine, games, gazaunderattack, hamas, hamas leader, humanitarian, initiative, interview, israelis, kerry, leader, long term, news, palestinian, plan, playing, prisoners, questions, territory. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.