Hamas is willing to live together with Jews but not with “the occupiers”, its leader Khaled Mashaal said Sunday.
Speaking with Charlie Rose of CBS News, Mashaal said, “We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews, per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.”
“On the contrary, we actually respect the religious people,” he continued. “We ask for tolerance, for coexistence. The Buddhists, the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims, as you know, God created us as nations. We are different. And the Koran says that in order for the nations to live together and coexist......without occupation and without any blockade.”
Rose asked Mashaal “what does Hamas want?” to which the leader said, “The war in Gaza sends two messages, to the world. The first message, it is high time to lift the siege on Gaza.”
“Since 2006, when the world refused the outcomes of the elections, our people actually lived under the siege of eight years. It is -- this is a collective punishment. We need to lift the siege. We have to have a port. We have to have an airport,” he continued.
“This is the first message. The second message, in order to stop the bloodletting, we need to look at the underlying causes. We need to look at the occupation. We need to stop the occupation. [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu doesn't take heed of our rights,” claimed Mashaal.
“[U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry months ago tried to find a window through the negotiations in order to meet our target, to live without occupation, to reach our state. Netanyahu has killed our hope or killed our dream. And he killed the American initiative,” he charged.
Asked if he believes coexistence of between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East was possible, Mashaal replied, “I can't coexist with occupation.”
“I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and with the Arabs and non-Arabs and with those who agree with my ideas and those who disagree with them,” he added. “However, I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers
Mashaal said recently that Israel's ground operation in Gaza was destined to fail.
"What the occupier Israel failed to achieve through its air and sea raids, it will not be able to achieve with a ground offensive. It is bound to fail," he declared.
He further said Hamas has "clear demands", including an end to "the aggression and collective punishment against our people...as well as the lifting of the Gaza siege."
Last week, Mashaal stated that Israel must accept his list of unprecedented conditions for a ceasefire in order for any truce to be implemented. Many of the demands include, effectively, lifting all travel and import restrictions in Gaza and re-releasing arrested terrorists.