The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, launched its campaign for the Palestinian elections on Tuesday, in defiance of Israeli attempts to bar the movement from taking part in the vote.
Despite the assassination of several Hamas leaders by Israel’s occupation forces, the movement is expected to win a massive vote in the elections, under the ‘Change and Reform’ platform.
A statement announcing the Change and Reform list for the poll was announced from the home of Sheikh Yasin, the elderly, disabled Hamas leader assassinated by Israel.
It said: ‘We wanted to announce the start of our election campaign from the house of the leader founder, imam martyr Ahmad Yasin, to stress that we shall pursue his line and to pay homage to his pure blood and the blood of the martyrs of the movement and the Palestinian people.’
The statement said that ‘the legislative elections in which the movement is standing are only a step on the path of the strategy adopted by the movement. . .
‘This step is a token of loyalty to all the heroic prisoners and wounded and confirms that we shall pursue the path of resistance until the liberation of land and holy places, God willing.’
Hamas said its decision to take part in the legislative elections ‘is a new development in the course of the political action of the movement. . .
‘This is natural given the growth in its responsibilities and commitments and in light of the developments, course of history, and local, Arab and international changes.
‘This, however, will not affect its Islamic constants and its plan of resistance.’
The elections would be a platform ‘to serve the masses of our people, fight corruption and contribute towards the reform of the Palestinian political life to ensure preserving the national constants and our people’s inalienable rights on our blessed land.’
Hamas said it had decided to participate in the elections ‘after in-depth and long studies and after exercising shura (consultation) in its finest form and in a broad way that included its grassroots and cadres inside and outside (the Palestinian Authority areas), including the prisoners in the occupation prisons.’
Hamas said it seeks to achieve the following:
• ‘Protect the resistance programme, use the Legislative Council platform to defend it and oppose anyone who tries to tamper with the rights of the Palestinian people and their gains, led by their right to resist the occupation.
• ‘The blessed Al-Aqsa intifada (the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation) has created new facts on the ground, which turned the Oslo programme (the US government-sponsored negotiations) into a thing of the past.
‘The various forces, including the Zionist occupation forces, have spoken about “burying Oslo”.
‘Our people now are more united and have more awareness.
‘Hamas is advancing towards the elections at a time when a large part of the people has joined the circle of resistance.
• ‘Hamas is advancing towards participation while appreciating the heavy responsibility and trust to rectify the march and build the Palestinian national plan on strong foundations that can resist pressures, concessions and relinquishment of the rights of our people and nation.
‘The cause of Palestine is the holiest, most important and most serious in the Arab and Islamic worlds; its human dimension means that every person who loves justice, right and freedom sides with it.
‘No person or faction, no matter how powerful and influential, can manage the conflict with the enemy on its own or handle the liberation plan alone.
‘The movement will remain faithful to Jerusalem (the Israeli-occupied Palestinian capital), the right of the return of refugees and the release of all our heroic prisoners in the occupation jails. . .
• ‘The participation in the Legislative Council is a step towards putting the Palestinian house in order on sound foundations to restore its vitality and invest the energies of our people inside and outside (the Palestinian Authority areas) in the battle of liberation, supported by its Arab, Islamic and human dimensions.
• ‘The entry of Hamas into the Legislative Council will contribute to the follow-up of the social and economic care and services for the people.
‘It will seek to become a protector of civil society organisations and to promote them and activate their role.
• ‘Fighting corruption which has spread in public circles and become a major phenomenon that needs a quick and effective remedy.
‘All our people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are harmed by corrupt practices. Fighting corruption is the duty of the movement.
‘Stopping the waste of public funds, bolstering the principles of accountability and transparency and championing wronged people are all part of the movement’s duties. . .
‘Our people have the right to lead a decent life and to preserve their rights and have equal opportunities.
‘The movement will seek to make the Legislative Council a platform for the protection of people and their rights and to expose the corrupt, especially since many members of our people and masses inside have started to rally around the movement to carry out its role in this field.’
The Hamas election statement continued: ‘The movement has adopted a comprehensive programme to achieve progress for the Palestinian people.
‘Taking care of people’s interests, serving them and alleviating their suffering were among its most important programmes.
‘Everybody has testified. . . that Hamas has played an active role in alleviating the suffering of the people, offering social and charitable services to them and extending donations to the needy.
• Hamas said that ‘Working at the Legislative Council is part of the circle of openness and serving the cause. . .
‘Hamas observes the rules of religion in its actions. However, its Islamic character does not mean fanaticism, isolation or offending anyone.
‘Rather, it seeks brotherhood, tolerance and solidarity, as well as moderation.
‘Hamas has a cultural plan which it thinks is the most capable of mobilising the energies of the nation and pooling its resources in the liberation plan. . .
‘The Christians of Palestine are partners in the one homeland.
‘Everybody has been exposed to Zionist injustice, persecution and displacement.
‘Consequently, everybody should be partners in defending and liberating Palestine. . .
‘In its political activity and work at the Legislative Council, Hamas will seek to offer a model of national unity, and it is extending its hand to all the honest sons of Palestine to take part in the plan of liberation and construction.’
• Hamas stressed that it ‘does not seek to monopolise the seats (in the Palestinian parliament) and does not seek to isolate and marginalise others.
‘It seeks to achieve political partnership on the basis of cooperation in the service of the homeland and confrontation of the enemy, and achieving the supreme interests of the Palestinian people.
‘Fraternal and fair competition governs our relationship with other Palestinian forces. Resistance and jihad (struggle) govern our relationship with the Zionist enemy.
‘Palestinian blood is the red line that must not be approached.’
The Hamas statement also said it was ‘high time that society appreciated the extent’ of the sacrifices made by Palestinian women in the struggle to end Israeli occupation.
It said: ‘Hamas will seek to give women their role in the Legislative Council so they can be side by side with men in managing the conflict with the enemy.
‘Hamas will seek to pass legislation to protect women and their rights.
‘Hamas will resist any attempts to marginalise the role of women.’
Hamas also said that it would ‘seek to alleviate the suffering of our people and address the phenomenon of poverty and unemployment.’
It said it would ‘side with the deprived and pay special attention to the youth sector and their institutions and clubs because they are the pillar of any people and nation.’
The movement would also support ‘all individuals who seek to end the chaos of weapons, terrorisation of safe people and kidnapping of foreigners as much as we can because our people deserve a safe and stable life.’