Top leader of Hamas speaks to leading American Jewish newspaper

Now this is interesting. Forward is granted an “unprecedented” five hour interview with… Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas’s second-highest-ranking official. Here’s one explanation from an Israeli journalist:

What [Abu Marzook] really wants is for Jewish Americans to convince the Israelis that Hamas is not like an animal.

Perhaps, but the content is revealing. This is not, despite the mountains of Western and Zionist propaganda over the years, an irrational terrorist organisation. There are goals, whether we agree with them or not, and legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation. Some highlights:

“Let’s establish a relationship between the two states in the historic Palestinian land as a… hudna… between both sides,” he said. “It’s better than war and better than the continuous resistance against the occupation. And better than Israel occupying the West Bank and Gaza, making all these difficulties and problems on both sides.”

Pressed regarding concerns that Hamas’s goal during a… hudna… would remain the destruction of Israel as a state, and that a truce would give Hamas time to build up its arms toward that end, Abu Marzook said: “It’s very difficult to say after 10 years what will be on both sides. Maybe my answer right now [about recognizing Israel] is completely different to my answer after 10 years.”

But asked if, offered guarantees for his physical security, he would be prepared to go to Jerusalem to negotiate with Israel for exactly the kind of… hudna… he seeks, Abu Marzook replied bluntly, “No.”

Hamas has rejected negotiating with Israel directly. Abu Marzook said that under a previous understanding with Fatah, the faction controlling the P.A. in the West Bank, Hamas allows the P.A. to negotiate with Israel, despite its objections to the process. But Abu Marzook repeated his organization’s demand that any result must be approved in a referendum that includes all Palestinian refugees, not just those in the West Bank and Gaza. “All of the Palestinians should vote about this,” he said.