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Hamas Spokesman Admits: No Place For Israel In Middle East

"I'm telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area." So said Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar on Tuesday on BBC; last night he met with Abu Mazen to discuss conditions for a "ceasefire."
First Publish: 5/23/2003, 2:42 PM

"I'm telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area." So said Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar on Tuesday on BBC - yet he met last night with Abu Mazen to discuss conditions for a "ceasefire."

PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen met with leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization, who laid down some conditions for agreeing to a "year-long ceasefire" against Israel. These included Israel's release of all imprisoned Arab terrorists and its agreement to stop all counter-terrorism activities. By stipulating such conditions, Hamas was essentially understood to be rejecting all calls for a ceasefire.

The "fact" that Hamas was willing to discuss a ceasefire at all, however, can better be understood in light of the words of one of its top leaders, senior Hamas spokesman Mahmoud A-Zahar, just two days earlier. A-Zahar, one of the participants in last night's meeting with Abu Mazen, appeared on Tim Sebastian's BBC Hardtalk show on Tuesday. A partial and unofficial transcript:

Question: You [Hamas] say that if Israel withdraws, then the resistance will stop. 'We are calling for just one condition: An end to the occupation and the Palestinian suffering.' Then you would renounce violence totally, is that what you’re telling me - for now and forever?
Zahar: [no], without conditions. We are not the Palestinian Authority that we can give things without discussing them, without agreement...

Q. I'm asking you -
Z. Just one thing [we will give] - a ceasefire. A ceasefire is justified in our religion. Our attitude is that [Palestine] is not a political issue -

Q. Dr. Zahar, I asked you a very simple question: If Israel accepts your conditions - the elimination of the occupation - will you renounce violence, yes or no?
Z. We are going to ceasefire - only ceasefire.

Q. Yes or no to that condition? Yes, or no?
Z. I, I, I, I answered you. It's not the way to say yes or no. We are not going to --

Q. So how can Israel trust your assurances ever? You can’t even give a straight answer to a straight question. How can they trust your answers?
Z. The question is - just a moment. If Israel withdraws from our land, and says that they will not re-attack and reoccupy our country - that's a big if - they are not going to do that, because they did that before: They occupied our country in '48, occupied our areas in '56, and in '67, and Lebanon in '82 - so the history…

Q. You know what you're telling me? That under no circumstances will you give up violence until you've pushed Israel into the sea. That's what you want, isn't it?
Z. Who is saying that?

Q. You're saying that.
Z. I'm telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area.

Q. So until Israel ceases to exist, you won't lay down your arms. Is that right?
Z. First of all, we are a part of the independent Islamist - this is the attitude of thousands and millions of people…

Q. Why do you keep on with this attitude? You are seen… by many people in the world as a bunch of ruthless killers, fanatics, terrorists. Are you happy with that picture?
Z. We're not happy - [but] these people are seeing Islam as an enemy, as a terrorist, but this is a historical mistake. Because Islam is a supreme power in this area, sooner or later we are going to achieve our power, our moral principles, our virtue, in order to implement a real state. -end-

Arutz-7's Yosef Zalmanson notes that the "ceasefire" Zahar says Islam permits is known as a "hudna" - a temporary cessation of hostilities until one side feels that it is strong enough to resume the fight. In light of the above Hamas position that "the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area," the Israeli Government in fact objects to a ceasefire on the part of the terrorist organizations, which it says will be used to strengthen themselves and prepare for a renewed attack against Israel. Israel demands, instead, that Abu Mazen totally disarm the terrorist groups and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.