by Bassim Naim
Member of Hamas International Relations Bureau
The representative of a superpower like the United States must demonstrate a minimum level of credibility and objectivity. Therefore, I must draw Jason Greenblatt's attention and his administration to some facts that they overlooked or ignored:
In January 2006, Hamas democratically achieved a resounding victory in free, fair and transparent elections, monitored by local and international institutions and observers, including former President Jimmy Carter. The problem began when the United States, which leads campaigns across the world claiming to spread democracy and defend human rights, rejected the results of the Palestinian elections and imposed the siege even before Hamas formation of its government. The then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice led this campaign internationally and drafted the conditions of the international Quartet. The words of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that America made a mistake by allowing elections of uncertain results, are the most apparent evidence of the US bias and the type of desired democracy.
It seems that the enormous global US violations pushed Mr Greenblatt to forget or disregard the fact that the Gaza Strip, under international law, is an occupied territory. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation, not Hamas, is the occupying power, which is fully responsible for all aspects of the life of the population.
The international community, especially the United Nations, called the blockade unjust; some even called it a war crime. They repeatedly urged the Israeli occupation, as the occupying power, to immediately lift or ease the siege and refrain from collectively punishing of 2 million Gazans. Regarding the unjust Quartet conditions that you mentioned, the recognition of the Israeli occupation is required from states and governments, not from organisations and parties. Then, which “Israel” we are required to recognise? Which are its borders? What is its constitution? Does the ruling Likud party recognise a Palestinian state and the right of the Palestinian people to their capital, Jerusalem and the return to their homes, where they were forced out?
"There will be no Palestinian state and the only way forward is a limited autonomy,” your friend Netanyahu said at the last AIPAC conference on March 6 in Washington
As to the resistance, which you labelled violence, the international law, all traditions and religions give the peoples under occupation the right to resist the occupation by all means including armed resistance (Article 51 of the UN Charter).
So, why are you biased and double standard? What do you call the theft of Palestinian lands for settlements? What do you call the execution of children by the occupation? What do you call the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expulsion of its inhabitants? Finally, what do you call the denial of patients from travelling abroad for medical treatment? It is violence, isn’t it? We call it “State terrorism!”
The catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza is likely to incite a huge explosion of unpredictable implications. The situation on the ground is much worse than what you described. You can refer to the UN reports, especially the OCHA’s.
The dire conditions are caused by Israeli blockade, with international cover turning Gaza into a large open-air prison to more than 2 million people. Sometimes, the Israeli occupation deals with Gaza as a zoo where food and water are needed. However, Hamas has spared no efforts to overcome the consequences of the siege.
Hamas sought reconciliation and an end to the Palestinian division. Unfortunately, foreign interference, especially from the Israeli occupation and the United States, has repeatedly undermined its efforts. Hamas has communicated with Egypt to contemplate ways to resolve the crisis taking into consideration Egypt's security needs. This led to a high-level visit from Hamas leadership to Egypt. The two sides stressed on the need to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Egyptian leadership thanked Hamas for its efforts protecting the borders and combating extremism and terrorism.
Hamas has presented practical and reasonable political vision to resolve the conflict with the occupation through political means, in a way that preserves the minimum nationally agreed rights of the Palestinian people. The political document issued by Hamas in May 2017 was a proof that Hamas’ pragmatism and desire to avoid war and destruction in order to achieve regional stability. Unfortunately, all Hamas’ initiatives were met with rejection.
Hamas is a national movement that seeks to achieve its people's aspirations of freedom, independence and welfare in cooperation with all the good people in the world. Hamas is ready to participate in any activity whatsoever that serves the Palestinians or alleviate their suffering.
As for your peace plan, which you claimed Hamas rejected without even seeing, you may be right, but what do you expect from Hamas seeing your president’s daily statements and decisions erasing fundamental rights and established principles of our national struggle?
First of all, the decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the state of the Israeli occupation, ignoring all international resolutions and positions. That was followed by the decision to cut UNRWA’s funding, which is the international body responsible for the relief and employment of nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees. That was an attempt to write off the refugees’ issue and turning it into a purely humanitarian matter regardless to the dangerous repercussions on the Palestinians and the whole region.
In conclusion, disagreement with Hamas and its vision is not a justification to impose collective punishment on the Palestinians in Gaza and deprive them of their basic rights, pushing them toward collective frustration and loss of hope for a better future.
Gaza is an ancient city and its people love life and hope to contribute to the good of humanity with its youth and vitality.