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Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al's article in The Guardian--2/13/07--Full text

*Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice*



The Mecca agreement gives the west the chance to break with its policy
of blackmail and recognise Palestinian rights



*Khalid Mish'al*

*Tuesday February 13, 2007*

*The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>*



A historic new phase in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and
independence has begun. Last week's Mecca agreement between Hamas and
Fatah will pave the way for the first ever truly Palestinian national
unity government. Hamas and Fatah, joined by all the other Palestinian
factions, will now seek to rebuild Palestinian society following the
destruction brought upon it by Israeli occupation and resume the
campaign for our national rights.



We are determined to make sure that the recent internal fighting, which
appalled our people and dismayed their supporters around the world,
becomes history. We firmly believe that it would never have happened had
it not been for foreign intervention and the brutal sanctions imposed on
our people by Israel and its allies. The crisis would not have existed
had international and regional powers respected the results of last
year's democratic elections in Palestine.



The Mecca agreement has laid the foundations for a power-sharing process
that will produce a functioning government capable of attending to our
people's needs. It will also pave the way for rebuilding the PLO to
include all the factions and become the legitimate representative of all
Palestinian people. The partnership born out of the Mecca meeting is
possible because of the consensus among the Palestinians that their
primary objective is to win their freedom, and that their struggle
should be solely against occupation. It is now up to the international
community to respect this accord and the will of the Palestinian people.



We Palestinians have been the victims of invasion, occupation and
oppression for almost a century. Yet we have been constantly blackmailed
to make concessions and give up yet more of our legitimate rights. Since
the elections of January 2006 our people have been boycotted and
punished by the international community for exercising their democratic
rights. In the meantime, Israel has continued to kill and detain
Palestinians on a daily basis, demolishing hundreds of houses and making
thousands homeless.



Today Israel has more than 11,000 of our brothers and sisters in jail
and continues to deny millions of refugees the right to return to their
homeland. It has defied international law by proceeding with the
construction of the apartheid wall and building settlements on land
expropriated from Palestinians. Meanwhile, excavation resumed last week
in the compound of al-Aqsa mosque, and on Friday the mosque, to which
access is denied to Palestinians below the age of 45, was invaded by
Israeli troops who wounded scores of worshippers.



Now that Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a national unity
government, the international community has no excuse to maintain the
siege against our people. We know that many governments around the world
are unhappy with these sanctions and want to see an end to them. The
Palestinian national accord achieved in Mecca envisages the
establishment of a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state on
the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967 - with Jerusalem as its
capital, the dismantling of the settlements in the West Bank, the
release of all Palestinian prisoners and the acknowledgement of the
right of the refugees to return to their homes.



Once translated into reality, this vision will pave the way for real
peace in the region. There must be no more blackmail of Palestinians,
for there is nothing else they can give away. Global powers should have
learned by now that neither sanctions nor any other form of pressure or
bribery will force the Palestinians to abandon their struggle for
freedom and independence.



All previous peace proposals have failed because they were intended to
impose an unjust pro-Israel settlement on our people, and were based on
the assumption that the Palestinian struggle was a form of terrorism
that the Palestinians had to renounce. The attempt to divide
Palestinians into moderates and extremists or peacemakers and terrorists
has failed. Now we are united in our determination to seek an end to
oppression and occupation.



So, will the international community seize this historic opportunity,
require Israel to respect our rights and stop hindering this attempt to
turn the Palestinian national agreement into a reality? Or will it
remain weak and ineffective in the face of Israeli intransigence and
risk alienating not only Hamas but also Fatah and all the other
Palestinian factions?



If the latter is the choice, the outcome will be dire indeed: the entire
Middle East region will be driven towards another cycle of bloody
escalation that may last for many years to come - and an entire
Palestinian generation, which might not be willing to accept what we
accept today, will be left profoundly embittered.



The west needs to wake up and realise that time is no longer on the side
of Israel and its policies of occupation, destruction and expansion.
Time no longer favours the continuation of policies biased towards
Israel. It will not serve the best interests of the west to support
Israel while it continues to terrorise our people, occupy our land,
violate our basic human and national rights and encroach on Muslim and
Christian holy places. Such blind support has proven to be very costly
for the west and will increasingly damage its vital interests.



It must be understood by all that the people of Palestine have the key
to both peace and war in the Middle East. There can never be peace and
stability in the region without settling the Palestinian question. And
that can only be achieved by ending the occupation and recognising our
people's rights.



*· *Khalid Mish'al is head of the Hamas political bureau



khmishal@gmail.com <mailto:khmishal@gmail.com>
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