Mishaal Calls For Palestinian Talks Without Conditions

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KHALID MISHAAL, head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, has called for an all-inclusive dialogue among all political Palestinian forces, particularly Fatah and Hamas, which would end up with the formation of a national unity government.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera in an exclusive interview, Mishaal said that Hamas was willing to take part in this dialogue without any conditions.

‘Through Al-Jazeera TV, I would like to invite, without conditions, brother Abu-Mazin (Mahmud Abbas), our Fatah brothers and all the other forces to hold a comprehensive inter-Palestinian national dialogue among all the forces, on top of which are Fatah and Hamas and form a national unity government.

‘We will not set any conditions now. It would be a national dialogue meant to put our Palestinian house in order; form a national unity government based on the National Accord Document, which we all agreed on; and put our Palestinian house in order within the PLO.’

Mishaal also commented on the call for early Palestinian elections by saying that no elections would be held without national agreement.

He called for not giving in to foreign pressures, because this is what was behind the eruption of internal Palestinian conflicts.

‘Any internal conflict pains us inasmuch as it pains any Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim.

‘But this state of conflict and disagreement is the result of giving in to external pressure.

‘We are a free people, and we have to neutralise and exclude all forms of foreign interference.

‘Nothing can prevent us from reaching an understanding.

‘Simply speaking, what is creating confusion in the Palestinian arena is the external interference and those giving in to this interference.

‘We elected a legislative council 11 months ago. Is it reasonable to talk about early elections while the elections are still fresh? Is it justifiable to violate the law and constitution?

‘Therefore, I am saying that there will be no elections without a national consensus, and that no step that goes against the law will ever materialise.’

Hamas will not be ‘blackmailed’ by US moves to restrict aid, Muhammad Nazzal, member of the Hamas Political Bureau, said.

He was speaking after US President Bush said he would endorse a law ‘restricting the US aid to the Hamas government unless it recognises Israel and conducts financial reforms’.

Nazzal said: ‘The US decision was not strange or surprising, it was expected.

‘I believe that when the US Administration announces its support for one party only, this shows a flagrant US interference in the Palestinian affairs.’

Nazzal added: ‘The Hamas Movement was elected by the Palestinian people through elections, the transparency of which the world witnessed.

‘Hence, the US Administration and the world community should respect the choice of the Palestinian people.

‘Regrettably, the weapon of money is used to blackmail Hamas to give concessions and cede the Palestinian people’s rights.

‘The Hamas Movement will not accept to be financially blackmailed by the US Administration or others.’

Nazzal cited Sa’ib Urayqat, head of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, as saying that ‘PNA President Mahmud Abbas obtained from (Egyptian) President Husni Mubarak guarantees to prevent the access of money through the Rafah crossing.’

He added: ‘PNA President Mahmud Abbas and his henchmen take part in besieging the Palestinian people and want to use the (weapon) of money to topple the PNA Government.’

Asked whether Hamas will backtrack on its positions given the ‘worsening situation,’ Nazzal replied: ‘The Hamas Movement will not give up its position in the Palestinian Government.’

He added: ‘The presence of Hamas is not detrimental to the Palestinian people.

‘Rather, the presence of this opportunistic class, which hatches conspiracies against the Palestinian people and prevents the access of money through the Rafah crossing is harmful to the Palestinian people.’

Replying to a question on why Hamas rejected Abbas’s call for holding early elections, Nazzal said:

‘Those who did not respect the Palestinian people’s choice made a few months ago, not even two years, cannot respect the Palestinian people’s choice later.’

He added that the call for holding early elections is ‘a game, and there is an arrangement for rigging these elections and reappointing those who were in the former Palestinian Government’.

The international Quartet committee, grouping the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia, decided to extend aid to Palestinians for three months without contacting the Hamas government.

Arrangements to extend the aid programme were made in a conference telephone conversation by US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch with counterparts in the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Extending the aid mandate will be reconsidered before the three months expires.

Last Friday, Hamas leader Khalid al-Hajj criticised a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda second-in-command, saying: ‘We do not see eye-to-eye with Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri with regard to his ideological and political concepts.

‘The Islamic arena is full of intellectual jurisprudence.

‘We do not accept many actions that are taken by some movements, especially killing of civilians, bombing of economic, civil and other institutions, or attacking places of worship.

‘We believe that we should use force only against the occupation and the invaders.’

Al-Hajj affirmed that ‘Hamas’s strategy stems from its understanding of the true religion of Islam through the jurisprudent deliberations by the movement’s scholars.

‘Therefore, we believe that Al-Zawahiri’s views are not new, because he does not believe in gradual reforms or in political, union, or parliamentary actions, while Hamas believes in them all.’

He added that ‘Hamas ran in the elections in order to preserve the resistance and jihad, make sure that the Palestinian rights and constants are not relinquished, to help the Palestinian people get rid of corruption and mismanagement, consolidate national unity, and to gain constitutional and political legitimacy as it obtained legitimacy for its Jihad and resistance.’

Al-Hajj added: ‘Hamas has not abandoned jihad and resistance even when heading the government.’

He said the Beit Hanoun battle, the Shattered Illusion Operation, the capture of an Israeli soldier, and the rocket fire prove that it adheres to resistance.

He denounced Al-Zawahiri’s remarks to the effect that Hamas has recognised the Zionist entity and accepted the Quartet’s conditions.

He said that the imposition of siege, international isolation, the martyrdom of over 100 of its members since June, the arrest of its deputies and ministers and hundreds of its activists, and the bombing of over 100 houses of its leaders, commanders, and deputies prove that the movement adheres to its national constants until the occupation is expelled.