Asharq al-Awsat exclusively interviews Musa Abu Marzuq, the deputy political bureau chief of Hamas and one of the founding members of the organization. The interview went as follows:
Q) There are fears of internal Palestinian conflict breaking out after the Israeli pullout from Gaza? Do you share such apprehensions?
A) This is probably what the enemy himself hopes for but we are fully aware of this matter. We have said and reiterated through ”Asharq al-Awsat” that Hamas will not allow inter-Palestinian conflict to break out and will not support it under any circumstances. The spilling of Palestinian blood is an offense whether it is the blood of the Palestinian national forces or members of the Palestinian authority. However, we want the Palestinian authority to protect the weapon of resistance because the pullout from Gaza is not the end, and does not equate the retrieval of all the occupied Palestinian territories. We are asking for the formation of a national committee that follows up the post-withdrawal matter. We are eager to achieve stability and calm in the Palestinian streets.
We want a committee that considers carefully and effectively national decisions, unlike the committees to which we are accustomed. Dozens of committees were formed only to achieve nothing. The situation now is different and we all must agree and determine the basic national principles in line with the interests of the Palestinian people.
Q) How can this take place as you argue for resistance and will abandon it?
A) This is a different issue. The Palestinian resistance will not give up this weapon. As we said, the Israeli pullout is not the end as the West Bank and Jerusalem are still occupied. The Gaza Strip does not cover the whole of occupied Palestine but is a small part of it. The Israeli pullout is not complete, as the Palestinian information minister said, and we completely agree with him on this. The resistance has a principal mission, that of ending the occupation. The resistance will not stop as long as there is occupation. We will continue to resist in order to achieve our legitimate goals. The weapon of resistance is responsible and should not be harmed. There should be a complete Palestinian understanding on this matter. As I said, we are therefore expecting the Palestinian authority to protect the resistance to ensure that re-occupation cannot take place.
Q) You are talking about guarantees. Can you guarantee that your framework will not be chased out after the pullout?
A) I believe there are no guarantees other than the national responsibility and that of the Palestinian people.
Q) What have talks with the US administration achieved?
A) We do not have any problem or reservations about holding talks with any part of the world, apart from the Israeli enemy. As you know, there are direct and indirect dialogues with the US administration. We believe that no party can be effective in the Palestinian cause and the Middle East peace process, especially on the Palestinian-Israeli track, without holding discussions with Hamas.
Any party that ignores this truth is making a fatal mistake. Hence, the US stand toward us is extremely negative.
Q) Do you think the US and European standpoints toward you differ?
A) Of course. There is a significant difference. The EU is not chasing us at the political, economic, security, and diplomatic levels as the US administration is doing in all places at all times. The Europeans understand the truth about Hamas and the nature of its activity due to their proximity to the region and their understanding of its political climate, while the Americans are the complete opposite and act upon negative agendas. They have taken a hostile stand toward us and we inform them that they are making a huge mistake strategically. They classified us as a terrorist organization. We do not practice terror but rather, we practice our legitimate right to resist in accordance with international norms and laws that do not deprive an occupied people of their natural right to resist the occupier whoever that may be.
Q) You are talking about a wide-ranging campaign. What do you mean?
A) It is well known that most of the US moves with the Arab and Muslim world in connection to the Palestinian situation and focuses on repeatedly telling these countries to stop political and financial support for Hamas. They want to blockade us economically and politically by drying up the sources and this strategy has certainly proved to be a failure.
A lot of pressure is being exerted on most Arab countries where there are Hamas representatives, to deport them and close their offices. There are countries that are refusing to do this and defiantly standing against these pressures.
Q) Do you specifically mean Syria?
A) Syria and others. The US pressures are continuous and the language of threat and intimidation has become America”s preferred language when referring to Hamas. They want to restrict our movement and this is clearly present in the US agenda.
Q) You have very good relations with the Egyptian authorities yet do not have a representative office there as Fatah do, or even in many other Arab capitals. How do you explain this inconsistency?
A) As you said, we do have close ties with the brothers in Egypt and we are proud of this relationship because it is the interest of both nations and serves the Palestinian cause.
We have asked our Egyptian brothers to support the opening of a Hamas office in Cairo and we await the answer. Of course, they have their own issues and we understand this. The office in itself is not our main aim because we are here in some way or another.
Q) When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region recently, she called for an Arab-Israeli summit as some kind of a reward to Ariel Sharon for his withdrawal from Gaza. Do you believe it is in the Palestinian interest to have this summit held?
A) My worst fear is an attempt by the US administration and the Israeli government to exploit the withdrawal issue to extort the Arab countries and to depict that Sharon should receive a reward for his extremist policy. In our opinion, Sharon has done nothing to warrant a reward. He takes one step forward and ten steps back. The talk at present about stabilizing Arab-Israeli ties does not serve our cause and helps only to embellish the image of the Israeli occupation and its policies. I believe that the Arab countries should comply with the resolutions of the previous Arab summits on this matter.
Q) How do you view the Egyptian role in the Salah-al-Din gate otherwise known as the Philadelphia crossing? Are you expecting negative impacts from the deployment of the Egyptian border guards to secure this region?
A) First of all, we value the role that Egypt and its President Husni Mubarak are playing in this issue. Everyone welcomes this role and no one disagrees with it. You might know about the extensive efforts of Major General Mustafa al-Buhayri, the deputy Egyptian General Intelligence chief, who recently visited the occupied Palestinian territories. Therefore, we do not expect that this role be carried out except in the interest of the Palestinian cause and to serve the Palestinian people. We have important and common interests with Egypt and understand its regional and Arab role. Therefore, there is no problem at all.