“We want all of Palestine….”:
Hamas goals remain unchanged

Published: 12 November 2006
Briefing Number 186

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Summary: Hamas leaders don't just refuse to recognise Israel . They continue to demand “all of Palestine ”, and to define their raison d'etre as the conflict with Israel . This Briefing sets out some recent quotes on these themes from Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is Foreign Minister in the Hamas-led government, and from senior Hamas figure and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Mahmoud al-Zahar,

Palestinian Foreign Minister and Hamas leader, October/November 2006

“ Israel is a vile entity that has been planted on our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalise our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven time and again that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied the land and eventually they left. The Persians, the Crusaders, and English [also] came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognising Israel , regardless of the price we may have to pay [for our refusal]….” (Al-Ayyam, Palestinian Authority newspaper, 21 October 2006 )

“We [aim to liberate] all our lands…. If we have the option we will establish a state on every inch of land within our 1967 borders, but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from the [Ras] Naqura to Rafah, and from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river ….” (Al-Hayat, London , 12 October 2006 )

“We do not and will not recognise a state called Israel . Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land…. This is a holy land. It is not the property or the

Palestinians or the Arabs. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world….” (from interview in London-based Asharq al-awsat, as reported in Jerusalem Post, 12 November 2006 )

Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian Prime Minister

“We derive our legitimacy from the legitimacy of the jihad. We are a government born from the womb of the resistance, from the womb of the martyrs [ie suicide bombers – Beyond Images] . We are a government that comes out of resistance and jihad, and out of the desire for resistance and jihad against the Zionist occupation…” (from www.palestine-info.info – 6 October 2006 )

Sources: Translations of Arabic language media are provided by MEMRI ( www.memri.org ) - Special Despatch 1351, dated 9 November 2006

Key messages

•  Hamas' desire to see Israel eliminated is uncurbed. Many Western commentators dilute Hamas beliefs, and whitewash the ideology of the movement. But these words are explicit and cannot be explained away.

•  These attitudes lie at root of the conflict with Israel . Instead of Israel having to prove it wants peace, the Palestinians should be challenged to demonstrate – by words and by deeds – that they accept Israel .

•  Supporters of Palestinian rights should be the most vocal in their demand that the Palestinians accept Israel 's legitimacy. Peace and a two-state solution cannot be achieved as long as the ideas of Hamas have dominant influence in Palestinian society.

Related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 166: Hamas leaders in their own words

Briefing 165: The Hamas Charter: Extracts