Friday, February 25, 2005


Osama Hamdan - Sharm el Sheikh was a failure

Arabmonitor, Italy's first news agency focussing exclusively on the Arab and Persian world, always offers exclusive interviews and high level original material. (There is an English version of all the articles, interviews, dossiers and documents, as well as most of the daily news dispatches). It is always worth a visit. I am posting an excerpt from Hamas's spokesman in Lebanon. In the full interview he discusses the truce, the Sharm el Sheikh summit, the coming elections, the relationship with Europe and Israeli commitments to peace.

In this particular interview, the importance of the release of the Palestinian political prisoners is explained in all of its relevance.

What are your impressions regarding the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh ?

“Sharm el-Sheikh was a failure. We are sincerely convinced that any successful confrontation with Israel requires a real and effectively unified Palestinian front. In Sharm el-Sheikh Abu Mazen has given without receiving anything in exchange. He created among the international public opinion the impression as though it were the Israelis who are the victims being targeted instead of us, the Palestinians. We know that Sharm el-Sheikh had been imposed on him, that he had been pressed to participate at the summit and that he had tried to avoid this as best as he could, but that he had been forced to go along with it by the Americans, the European Union and some Arab states. But he could and should have requested some things, for instance, at Sharm el-Sheikh the Israelis did not commit themselves to anything and Sharon did not modify even one detail of his political conduct. The United States were satisfied because what matters to them, is to offer a determinate picture of the situation, regardless of whether it has anything to do with reality or not. In Iraq, everything is being covered up by the actions of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the one hand and the elections on the other. In Palestine, the impression they want to create is that of a New Beginning. But in the meanwhile, Palestinian land continues to be grabbed, the Wall continues to be built and violence against Palestinians continues to be committed on a daily basis and there is nowhere even a commitment to recognize the rights of which the Palestinians are being deprived”.

Everybody’s asking up to when the ceasefire will remain in place ?

“It won’t last long, unless precise requests of the Palestinians will be satisfied. I’ll talk about only two of the requests: the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners by Israel and the end of any form of violence on the part of Israel against the Palestinians. Abu Mazen had asked us some weeks ago to accept a phase of quiet and to give him some time in order to at least create hope for something to be given in return. We have granted him thirty days, starting with, if I remember correctly, the end of January. It should be kept in mind that among the nine thousand Palestinian prisoners 485 are minors, 250 women, of whom 15 are pregnant and 300 are suffering from serious diseases. The Israelis can well release 500 prisoners today and arrest 1000 tomorrow. With that method, we will never resolve anything”.


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