Details of Hamas-Led Government Come Into Focus
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Leaders of the Palestinian Hamas party continue meetings in Cairo about forming a new government, after their surprising win in elections two weeks ago. A senior leader today said Hamas is looking for ways to talk with Israel, but still does not want to acknowledge that country's right to exist.
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Earlier, I spoke with a Palestinian political consultant and media professor who works with Hamas. He is Nashat Aqtash. Hamas, he said, wants a coalition government. It wants to include non-Hamas politicians, and what he called technocrats, who will be able to negotiate with the Israelis for Palestinians.
Professor NASHAT AQTASH (Palestinian political consultant): We need to have some negotiation with the Israelis for every daily life movement. Going abroad, medical things, aid, (unintelligible), everything is controlled, because West Bank and Gaza Strip are under incubation, and Hamas is not opposition to talk to the Israelis.
CHADWICK: What do you think the Palestinians who voted for Hamas, what do they want from a new government?
Professor AQTASH: Look, for the westerners, Hamas is known as the military arm of Hamas, who are doing suicide bombing. For the Palestinians, when it comes to Hamas organization, it's a long, successful history in social work. They're being reborn. That's what people are looking for from the next government.
CHADWICK: But as you say, Hamas is known in the west for its militancy. Let me read you, let me read you just a line from the charter of the organization, okay? The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them.
Professor AQTASH: Look, Palestine was occupied by the Israelis. In '48 and '67 war. Palestinian says not happy, they were treated unfairly, so a lot of anger among Palestinian. But now, it's about time that Palestinian, 80% of the Palestinian are willing to end up this question, and Hamas is offering a long term Hudna. Hudna means cease fire, long-term cease fire.
CHADWICK: Long-term cease fire.
Professor AQTASH: And during this Hudna, both parties can meet, can talk, and can settle down all the problems between them, including Jerusalem, borders, so many other things.
CHADWICK: Let me read you something else from the charter then, if I may. Article 13, peaceful solutions. Peace initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem are contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is the formal name of Hamas. Peaceful solutions are contrary to the beliefs of Hamas.
Professor AQTASH: Look, when Hamas was formed in '87, situation was little bit different.
CHADWICK: This is the current charter of the organization.
Professor AQTASH: This is, this is...
CHADWICK: This is the existing charter.
Professor AQTASH: I will come to this. This is a great opportunity for peace. Hamas, and with 80% of the Palestinian, are accepting peace settlement. Now, what the Israeli are going to do? Do they accept to recognize a Palestinian state beside them? Now, if the Israeli accept it, the problem will be finished.
CHADWICK: But Mr. Aqtash, the Israelis and Europeans and the American government are all saying, Hamas, you must say that you are willing to accept the Israeli state.
Professor AQTASH: Okay, who to recognize who? We are under occupation. We need to be recognized, and we need our state to be established, not the Israeli's. Now let me to get back to the charter. I know, I have the charter. I know Hamas does not believe in these according to the charter. But now, Hamas is coming to peace process. Why the West does not help them in ending up this occupation, Israeli occupation to Palestinian land, and settle down the problem in a peaceful solution.
CHADWICK: Why does...
Professor AQTASH: Why just, why just keep saying, Hamas must recognize Israel? Why don't you say, Israel has to do the (unintelligibe) end their occupation.
CHADWICK: But Mr. Aqtash, wouldn't the answer to that be that, how can you trust a partner in negotiation if that partner has declared that the real solution is to kill you?
Professor AQTASH: Why, why, why, why you, why the West keeping just repeating the same point? Okay, there are several possible solution. And Hamas solution, Israel solution, because they are part of the problem, is not accepted. Why don't we accept United Nations resolution? Two state solution. Hamas, before, was rejecting that, now Hamas saying we accept a peaceful resolution to the problem.
CHADWICK: Nashat Aqtash teaches media at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. Nashat Aqtash, thank you for speaking with us on DAY TO DAY.
Professor AQTASH: My pleasure.
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CHADWICK: Stay with us on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.
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