LIANE HANSEN, host:
For an update on what the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza means for Palestinian politics, we are joined by Hanan Ashwari. She is a member of the Palestinian Third Way Party and a longtime Palestinian negotiator. And she joins us from her home in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Welcome to the program. Thank you for your time.
Dr. HANAN ASHWARI (Member, Palestinian Third Way Party; Palestinian Negotiator): Thank you, Liane.
HANSEN: What are the Palestinians in the West Bank saying about this Israeli ground offensive?
Dr. ASHWARI: Well, all the Palestinians feel that this targets the Palestinian people as a whole. It targets the Palestinian cause itself. It is not a sort of limited offensive against the Hamas or one party or one military wing. That Israel, as usual, is escalating, is using violence, is targeting the Palestinians without any accountability, without any intervention or restraints, and it is doing so for its own political purposes.
HANSEN: Is there any sense at all that Hamas should be held accountable?
Dr. ASHWARI: This became really very secondary. Maybe before this onslaught, people were telling Hamas not to use rockets. We all believed, and I still believe, there is no military solution, that you cannot resort to violence to end this occupation, because Israel has an endless reservoir of violence and violations against the Palestinians. What we need to do is expose the limits of power and violence, and try to solve this issue from its core, from the basis, which is the occupation itself, and have a negotiated settlement.
HANSEN: What are you and perhaps your counterparts in the other Palestinian political parties doing? Are you planning on meeting, getting together?
Dr. ASHWARI: We have been meeting. We have been discussing. Actually, in the street, there has been a total national unity and protest at the strike. But they're saying that the Palestinians have to stand together, have to unite in the face of this assault.
HANSEN: Hanan Ashwari is a member of the Palestinian Third Way Party and a longtime Palestinian negotiator. Thank you for your time.
Dr. ASHWARI: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
HANSEN: Yesterday, NPR's Guy Raz spoke to Mark Regev, Israeli spokesman for the prime minister, when Israeli troops entered Gaza.
Mr. MARK REGEV (Israeli Government Spokesman): Our objective is ultimately defensive. We want to protect the civilian population in the southern part of Israel that's been on the receiving end of rocket after rocket launched by Hamas in Gaza. Now up until now, we've hit the Hamas military machine from the air. Today we started a ground operation. The idea is to neutralize the threat that is posed to the Israeli civilian population in the south of the country.
HANSEN: That was Israeli spokesman Mark Regev yesterday, speaking to NPR's Guy Raz.
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