HAMAS Political Bureau Head Khaled Mishaal last weekend pledged that Jerusalem will be liberated again during a speech rally in Damascus to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Crusaders by Salah al-Din.
He began by telling the people that it is a great day for him to stand in front of Salah al-Din’s fortress in Damascus.
He compares the past, when Salah al-Din liberated Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa from the desecration it was being subjected to then, to ‘the painful present which is witnessing the desecration and Judaization of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.’
Mishaal noted some of ‘the bright points’ in contemporary Islamic history, such as Hezbollah’s triumph over ‘the enemy’ in 2006, forcing Sharon to withdraw from Gaza without conditions, and the failure of ‘the enemy’s’ war on Gaza in 2008-2009. He added that Friday was another ‘bright point’ with the release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners. He promised that more Palestinian prisoners will be released.
Mishaal said: ‘I tell Netanyahu and the leaders of the enemy: “We know the language that you understand very well.” Yes, this is the way. The resistance that has managed to capture Shalit, keep him safe for more than three years, treat him in this proper manner, and manage well the indirect negotiations on the release of the prisoners, is capable of capturing Shalit, and Shalit, and another Shalit until all prisoners are released from the enemy’s prisons.’
Mishaal proceeded to review history, declaring: ‘I am confident and believe in God that the Zionists shall not stay in Jerusalem and Palestine for 88 years,’ which is the time it took Salah al-Din to liberate Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
He compared heroes from the history of Islam to heroic leaders the Palestinians have had in their contemporary history, including Sheikh Yassin and Yasser Arafat. He called on the Palestinian and Muslim leaders to proceed along Salah al-Din’s course and be like him, ‘not to grovel across the negotiations’ tables.
He called on the leaders and presidents of the Palestinian and Muslim people to follow the course of Salah al-Din, to wage ‘a jihad against the enemy.’
He noted Salah al-Din’s achievements of uniting the Arabs, adding that ‘today, we need, nay we even call for an Arab Islamic unity to confront the Zionist project and foreign designs. We do not want side-taking and axes against each other.’
Salah al-Din was a Kurd, he noted, yet he liberated Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, which is the life programme that all Muslims must adopt, not the course of negotiations. Continuing, Mishaal said: ‘As the Crusaders’ occupation of Jerusalem ended, the occupation of the city by the Zionists will end.’
He warned those who are colluding with the enemy and forfeiting rights that they will go down in the dustbin of history or be immortalised in its black pages.
Mishaal said Israel is escalating its settlement-building and Judaization of Jerusalem: ‘Because after 60 years of occupation, despite its military superiority and might, despite the world’s hypocrisy with it and most superpowers’ bias towards it, Israel has not succeeded in breaking the will of our people. Our people are still resisting.’ They are clinging to their constants, to Jerusalem and the resistance, and are dreaming of their return, he stressed.
Mishaal warned: ‘Israel today is fervently taking measures to close its grip on Jerusalem, impose decisions regarding the city, and remove it from the negotiations and all field and political efforts.’
Mishaal outlined the duties of Palestinians in the face of this ‘Zionist behaviour.’ He said: ‘Jerusalem is a special battle, for which all weapons and efforts must be rallied.’
One of the weapons is to entrench the people in the Arab quarters of the city. He praised the Palestinians in Israel proper who go by bus to Jerusalem to pray. He saluted them for their grand efforts.
Another weapon for the liberation of Jerusalem is ‘to preserve the culture and educational programme of our people. It is to protect any feature of the city and to support our people with funding to enable them to stay in their quarters, particularly in the Old City.’
But, Mishaal said, this is all part of the comprehensive plan. The latter consists of ‘first placing Jerusalem at the head of the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic agenda. It cannot be postponed or marginalised; discussions regarding the cause of the city cannot not be delayed. We reject any solution that excludes Jerusalem or postpones discussion of it because postponement means side-stepping Jerusalem and setting it aside; therefore, it means selling Jerusalem off to the Zionists.’ Jerusalem should be on the agenda of every Arab institution, government, party, etc.
He continued: ‘On this occasion, I call for a review of the Arab and Palestinian strategy. We have had enough initiatives proposed. I beg of you, Oh Arabs, enough initiatives. Enough waiting for solutions from others. We have given Bush Senior, Bush Junior, Clinton, and Obama enough opportunity.’ But the result has always been failure and the Americans continue to be biased to Israel.
He termed the scene of the trilateral New York meetings as ‘humiliating, embarrassing, expressive’ in the sense that the Arabs only talk while the Israelis take all the action and have all the support.
Mishaal then listed what should be done and what is required: ‘To cling to the land, Jerusalem, and the rights. We shall not accept any haggling over them.’
Second, ‘we cling to the resistance’s programme and restore status to it by stopping the security coordination. As we have seen from the past and the present, resistance is the option and there is no other option.
‘Third, we want to accomplish Palestinian national reconciliation, end division, and unite the Palestinian ranks. This is the option before us until we end the farce of the futile negotiations.
‘The fourth point in the programme is to manage the Palestinian and Arab political decision in a wise manner that respects itself and imposes its options on the enemy. The time has come to stop the farce of negotiations, a futile effort that we are offering free of charge.
‘The time has come to manage the political decision through a national will that no one can take unilateral control of; whoever thinks that Hamas will give any side power of attorney to negotiate and bargain over Jerusalem, the land, and the right of return is delusional. We shall not entrust anyone to negotiate for us. These are our rights, this is our land, and these are our national constants.’
Mishaal continued with the fifth point, cautioning the Arab countries not to normalise relations with Israel.
‘Israel is still an enemy and will continue to be an enemy who occupies our land and Jerusalem. We shall not forgive anyone if they normalise relations with Israel.’
Furthermore, Mishaal said they are in shock today at the fact that Israel is causing so much damage to Gaza and committing war crimes against the Palestinian civilians. He added that ‘we even have some fair people in the world, the likes of Goldstone and his people in the Fact-Finding Commission; and then we get a Palestinian voice emerging to ask for a postponement of the discussion of the Fact-Finding Commission’s report.’ He noted: ‘This is shameful and embarrassing.’
Lastly, he said: ‘Despite this pain, we have no option before us to put our Palestinian home in order other than reconciliation. We have informed you already that we have offered a great deal to put the train of reconciliation on the right track.
‘The Egyptians know that, as do the Arabs, who know the truth that Hamas and the factions standing by it have through their positive stance placed the topic of the reconciliation on the table.’
He thanked Egypt and Syria in particular for their efforts to reconcile the Palestinian sides. ‘We hope that there will be an Arab presence to witness the reconciliation at the end of this month. We hope things go well, God willing, despite the bleeding wound that is hurting us every day, regarding this ridiculous and shameful stance towards the fact-finding committee under the chairmanship of Goldstone.’
Finally, he extended Hamas’s hand to Fatah, ‘to the real Fatah’, saying: ‘We want to be in one rank with you; Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa, Palestine, and the right to return are all calling out to us to be one rank.’ He stressed that Hamas still clings to the reconciliation, adding this is the only option.
In conclusion, he said: ‘We bring tidings to our people that reconciliation is the only option: One hand that builds the Palestinian house through reconciliation and abidance to the democratic game, and the other hand that does not abandon the gun, does not forfeit the land, and seeks to liberate Jerusalem like Salah al-Din did.’