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Letter: Harper needs to ditch worn-out slogans
To the editor:
If truth is to prevail, our prime minister needs to acknowledge that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has repeatedly said (as did Ismail Haniyeh before him) that his government is willing to accept a Palestinian state based on borders as they existed prior to the 1967 war.
This implies that contrary to the Hamas Charter written a quarter of a century ago, there is no wish on the part of Hamas today to destroy the state of Israel.
I’ve located reliable sources indicating this was Mashaal’s stance each year since he took power in 2004, with one exception. At an exuberant rally in Gaza City in 2012, he was quoted as saying, “Palestine from the river to the sea, from the north to the south, is our land and we will never give up one inch.” However, in 2013, he was back to promoting a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.
In a CBS interview just days ago, Mashaal reiterated that Hamas was willing to have a state of Palestine coexist with a state of Israel. He repeatedly said coexistence as nations was what he wanted.
He said it was his position that coexistence was possible with Jews, with Christians, with Arabs, with non-Arabs, with those who agree with him and those who disagree with him, but coexistence with occupiers and settlers was not.
When pressed by the interviewer, Mashaal would not say he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but this is nothing new for Palestinian leaders. What he did say is that when Palestinians have a state, it’s Palestinians who will decide their policies.
All this is to say that the prime minister’s often repeated view that Hamas initiated the current conflict because it seeks the destruction of the state of Israel badly needs to be mothballed.
Nor is Hamas to blame for the death and destruction in Gaza, as the prime minister has repeated. It’s Israel that broke the ceasefire declared in 2012, not Hamas. It’s Israel that never met its 2012 promise to lift the siege of Gaza. And it’s Israel that continues the illegal occupation of the West Bank.
The root of the ongoing problem in the Middle East is the siege and occupation, not homemade Hamas rockets that lack any targeting capability. These rockets are fired off in frustration and serve another purpose. As one reporter put it; ‘Who pays attention to Gaza when rockets are not being fired?’
It’s the siege and occupation that Harper needs to focus on as a modern world leader, not sputtering rockets and worn-out slogans that interest no one but Benjamin Netanyahu and conservative U.S. radio hosts.