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Opinion: Negotiating with Israel is not unholy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Senior Hamas leader Musa Abu-Marzuq speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Gaza City on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

After years of wars and destruction, bloodshed and devastation, not to mention missed opportunities and accusations of treason in the Arab–Israeli conflict, Hamas politburo member Musa Abu-Marzuq has come out to tell us that “there is nothing wrong” with direct negotiating with Israel.

Abu-Marzuq did not make this statement in a newspaper interview to be able to deny it and its consequences later; rather he said this during a television interview with Al-Quds TV, which has close ties to the Hamas Movement. During the interview, Abu-Marzuq said: “From a legal [Islamic] perspective, there is nothing wrong with negotiating with the occupation.”

The Hamas leader added that “If the situation remains as it is now . . .Hamas could find itself forced to do this. This negotiation has become a popular demand across the Gaza Strip.”

So is this a tacit apology from Hamas leader Abu-Marzuq regarding everything that Hamas said about Egypt and former president Anwar Sadat when he was negotiating with Israel? What about Yasser Arafat? Is this also an apology regarding everything that was said about the Arab Initiative? What about all the Palestinian blood that has been shed without justification or the destruction carried out by this so-called “resistance?”

There are many questions that must be asked, most importantly: where did Hamas obtain this sudden and surprising wisdom? Is it an attempt to catch up after Hamas finds itself in a world where Iran is negotiating with the US and Egypt has returned, once more, to its traditional place in the region? Or is this an attempt to absorb the anger of the people of Gaza?

So, there are many questions about Abu-Marzuq’s statement, which Hamas later tried to play down by saying that its position remains the same. However this is a game that we have become accustomed to from Hamas, and all those with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. They say one thing but do the opposite. There are a number of other examples of this, and these are all parts of attempts to calm followers or confuse opponents. In the end, the group will do what it wants, regardless of what it has said before. This is what Hamas did in its dealings with Fatah, as well as with Egypt, Iran and Assad. This is the precise same approach pursued by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; for example, the Brotherhood initially pledged not to even put forward a presidential candidate following Mubarak’s ouster.

Therefore, the most important thing now is to realize that Abu-Marzuq’s statements do not represent a gain or a loss; they do not make any difference whatsoever. In fact, these statements represent a condemnation of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated movement, and this is something that everybody must see. There is nothing wrong with negotiating with Israel, but rather what is wrong is using this taboo over negotiations as a card to further your own interests; whether in the name of pan-Arabism or religion. So, after all this, how can Hamas now say that there is nothing wrong with negotiating with Israel?

Of course, there are also interests and objectives behind Abu-Marzuq’s statement, and we must take this into account. So, perhaps, the most important question is: How long will we leave our states, and our destinies, in the hands of parties and regimes that are solely seeking to further their own interests?