‘World conscience defends Palestine’

PressTV –  Tue Jan 4, 2011 7:13AM
Interview with Suhail al-Natour, member of Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine, Mahmoud al-Hirthani, Director of Center of Political Studies in Gaza and Richard Millett, Israel connect

Gaza war |It has been two years since Israel launched its war on the Gaza Strip and tensions are still high as Israel continues its blockade on the impoverished sliver.

The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Suhail al-Natour, member of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine; Mahmoud al-Hirthani, Director of the Center of Political Studies in Gaza and Richard Millett, with Israel connect, on the issue:

Press TV: When we take a look at what is happening in Gaza, it seems that war still continues. The people in Palestine are still suffering, but at the same time, there is international silence. Can we say that Israel has somewhat succeeded in silencing the world over what is happening in Gaza?

Natour: I think as far as Israeli occupation continues, the war is continuing. The occupation by itself is a kind of war against the Palestinian people. But for the results of the Cast Lead attacks and aggressions, I think the Americans helped the Israelis to absorb most of the negative reactions against Israel, which were the results of the aggression.

If we see, there are two tracks. On the one hand, it is helping a lot of governments all over the world to realize that Israel is an obstacle for the peace and is committing everyday crimes. For example last month, [there were] 15 martyrs [following] the attacks by the Israelis in Gaza. On the other hand, a lot of governments are beginning to realize that they have to move a little bit in the last push in political weave by the EU gathering, when they began to [set] the standards for recognizing the Palestinian state.

I think the Israelis did not succeed to completely absorb everything, but at the same time, Palestinians and Arabs did not succeed to invest in the good results of that aggression.

PressTV: What can you tell us of what’s happening right now inside Gaza? Are there any movements from your part or any other international movements that are coming into the strip trying to make a difference as a result of this blockade?

Mahmoud al-Hirthani: Gazans are suffering a lot from the blockade simply because it closes airport access, closes roads, closes access to the sea for the Palestinians in Gaza. We suffer from a lack of travel for educational purposes and for business purposes as well and furthermore, people cannot even travel for medical treatment, which adds insult to injury when it comes to someone in critical need of travelling to Egypt, Jordan or European countries for medical treatment, that person would travel to the border and stay for a day or for days sometimes and people may die because of the blockade that prevents people from getting out of Gaza for medical treatment.

Some people are not allowed to go outside Gaza simply because they are Palestinians and it is not easy for them to get out so they lose their jobs, they lose their education certificates; some people everyday might lose their chance of graduation from European or Arab countries due to the blockade. The suffering imposed on the Palestinians due to this blockade has incurred economic losses of more than $1.5 billion; transportation losses of more than $1.27 million so we are talking about extremely large scale damage that has happened to the Palestinians in addition to the social transformation that has occurred due to the lack of all these things.

PressTV: What can you tell us about international movements trying to make a difference inside the strip?

Mahmoud al-Hirthani: The international movement and solidarity campaigns have done a lot of good things for Palestinians and without their support, life n the Gaza strip would have been much much harder. With the Marmara II (flotilla) coming to Gaza,

People are expecting a good chance to meet people and to tell them about the suffering, to receive some support from them – moral support and material as well to help with the shortage of many things.

Other movements include campaigns and caravans coming from Britain and Europe and all of these can build up Palestinian standing.

Press TV: Mr. Millett, people have blamed Israel for the continuation of this blockade, but analysts argue that it needs to go on with another war to continue this blockade against the people of Gaza, because, politically, it has failed to commit to anything with the Palestinians. What is your opinion on that?

Millett: I think Israel has been doing its best to negotiate with the Palestinians. As we saw in the 10-month settlement freeze, the Palestinians literally came in towards the end of that 10 months. For some absurd reason, they did not get down the negotiating table at the beginning of the settlement freeze; so the whole negotiating process was bound to fall apart and it did, and I think the world opinion puts that fairly and squarely on the Palestinians. I do not see any sign of a new war against Hamas. This is a war against Hamas, not a war against Palestinians, not a war against Gaza. We have got to remember that 8,000 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza strip before Israel went in to try to stop those rockets.

Press TV: This is people who are suffering now, Hamas is not suffering. The people have no access to health care, nutrition and water is also contaminated. Why does Israel still not allow for the entrance of basic needs for the people?

Millett: I think that is wrong. After the Turkish Flotilla fiasco, there were easing of restrictions. There have been plenty of increased supplies that have been coming into the Gaza Strip and since last week, Israel has implemented a policy of allowing exports from Gaza. I think the 100 percent blockade is ironically on the Egyptian border. So I think that the Palestinians want to blame anyone for their suffering. It is not Israel; it is Hamas and it is Egypt.

Press TV: It seems that Head of Foreign Relation of Hamas Osama Hamdan agrees with you that there is not going to be an all-scale war in the near future. But how can you explain the fact that there is growing military potential for resistance movements in the region like Hamas and Hezbollah. While talks are declining and negotiations have not reached anything, people here seem to insist more on resistance. How do you argue with that?

Millett: That is an interesting point you made. It is, unfortunately, the leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas who are not interested in peace and are not interested in a Palestinian state. They are interested in the destruction of the Jewish state. Israel is not in Gaza anymore. Israel totally evacuated every single Israeli from Gaza in 2005.

Hamas could have built Gaza into a flourishing economic success. But instead of doing that, they chose to destroy all the buildings and all the factories that were available to them and to launch thousands of rockets into Israel. As I said it is still happening.
I think Hamas is under pressure, because Mahmoud Abbass is going around the world trying to gain support for this new potentially Palestinian state, but Hamas is totally sidelined and it is still trying to launch rockets into Israel.

Press TV: It is true that Mahmoud Abbas has sidelined Hamas and the Resistance Movement, but it seems that people don’t have, as long as the people of Gaza still support Hamas. What do you think of the situation now in Palestine?

Natour: Well, I think the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza is pushing people to be fed up with every Palestinian leader who has not succeeded in getting something fruitful in the eyes of the public. They are in a daily dilemma …

I do not agree with the idea that Israel is not anymore in Gaza. I think it is not the physical presence. There are some physical presences by the military incursions everyday in Gaza, but the physical presence is not all the blockade on Gaza. The Palestinian territories of Gaza are considered occupied until now by international law and the influence that decides to get something in or out is Israel. Israel is making the blockade … This is the responsibility of Israel and Gaza is in the continuous occupation under the Israeli rule.

Secondly, I think we are now in a dangerous situation when we see that the propaganda of Israel is trying to pave the way for another aggression on Gaza by pretending that it is not only Hamas that is not interested in a state (which I do not accept, because Hamas has repeated many times, especially lately, that it will accept, if there is a complete withdrawal of the Israeli occupation forces, they can accept a solution of a Palestinian state.) Israel is giving the impression all over the world that it is not only Hamas or the Islamic Jihad or the other organizations – the five armed struggle organizations – but there is a new wave of Salafis, which shows that extremism is pushing on within the people of Gaza. This is a pretext for a possible attack to annihilate many families like what happened in the last Cast Lead attacks, using different arms, including white phosphorus. Probably they will use new ones, because the general staff of the Israeli army say they have learned a lot of lessons and they have new weapons and they have new tactics. So, it is threatening even the presence of our people in Gaza to continue in this modest life suffocated economically by the Israeli measures.

PressTV: Mr. Hirthani, how do people in Gaza look at a possible future war, which could be worse than the past one and who mainly do they blame and are angry at?

Mahmoud al-Hirthani: The people in Gaza are confused as to whom they must be angry at because sometime when you live under a blockade for more than four years and you have surrounding states, which are Arab states and you have the international community and you have a very important body that passed 65 resolutions against Israel and Israel complied with none, you feel perplexed at who you need to blame, but Israel is the main colonial power now that represents America and the Middle East and people need to help us inside Palestine to get rid of this colonial rogue state that keeps bleating the international human rights and UN resolutions and commits war crimes and war and crimes against humanity. The only way to get rid of this Zionist state in Palestine is to comply with international laws and the UN resolutions that have been passed against Israel and Israel complied with none.

Press TV: Mr. Millett, final question – The number of countries that recognize a Palestinian state is on the rise, do you think that this in some way is an indicator? Perhaps the view towards Israel has changed; that many people are condemning Israel when it comes to occupation, that that should stop in order for the settlements to go on and the Palestinian state should be recognized.

Millett: Well, I think some countries have been recognizing a Palestinian state, Brazil, Argentina; they’ve got their own reasons, they got their own Muslim populations – Jewish populations in these countries are tiny compared to Muslim populations. What they don’t necessarily understand is that you’ve got an organization Hamas that is dedicated to the total destruction of Israel; they never have and never will recognize Israel – it has declared expressly in their charter that they will never ever do that. As we have seen even Hamas and Fatah are not aligned, they are not even talking to each other. The best thing to do is for them to get back round the negotiating table, but that isn’t going to happen until Hamas has recognized that Israel is there to stay.

Press TV: Many countries are not aligned when it comes to Fatah and Hamas and not aligned when it comes to Israel, even countries like Egypt and Turkey. For example, Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Egypt, some say, is the green light to launch of war against Gaza. How do you look at this?

Natour: I think the Israelis are trying to give the indication of more schism inside the Arab field. I do not agree with any possibility there. There are regimes which could accept the repetition of the aggression on Gaza, let alone the Arab world. It is not because they love this situation, it is because they do not want the repercussions of that. I think what you mentioned about a new wave of ascending recognition of the Palestinian state, even before the Palestinian Authority ask them to do it, they are taking the initiative by themselves. This gives an indication that conscience all over the world is with the Palestinians. We are, unfortunately very powerful in the public opinion, in some governments to take these initiatives and while in coordination between Arabs and Palestinians, there is a lack of combination.

ASH/SC/MB

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PressTV – ‘World conscience defends Palestine’.

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