Blogger Stefan Sharkansky translated an interview that the German paper Die Welt did with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas head who is often referred to in the press as Hamas’ “spiritual leader.” (The original report in German is here.)
We’ve copied the translated interview and Sharkansky’s commentary below. One lowlight: Sheik Yassin hadn’t even heard about last week’s terror attacks in Istanbul.
DIE WELT: What is the goal of the negotiations in Cairo that the Palestinian factions were invited to?
Yassin: We are also taking part in the talks. But I don’t know the agenda. That’s up to the Egyptians. I only know that it concerns forming a joint Palestinian position.
DIE WELT: A joint Hudna (ceasefire) or a joint escalation of the struggle?
Yassin: Without an Israeli withdrawal there can be no discussion of a cessation in the struggle.
DIE WELT: Are there any discussions in government circles about a long-term ceasefire?
Yassin: All the Palestinian groups and the Egyptians will be taking part in the talks. It’s difficult to say in advance what direction they will take. But at this point in time there can be no talk of a Hudna. Not now. The Israelis must first live up to their obligations.
DIE WELT: What are you thinking of? What sort of obligations?
Yassin: As to all the Israeli aggressions. First of all, the settlements. And also the constantly aggressive measures of the Israeli army.
DIE WELT: Settlements and assassinations. Aren’t these the points on which Israeli Prime Minister Sharon announced unilateral steps?
Yassin (Laughing. Shaking his head): Sharon? He won’t do anything. And as long as the soldiers are here next to us and as long as there are assassinations, there can be no talk of calming the situation.
DIE WELT: So no Hudna?
Yassin: Not without clear concessions from the Israelis concerning the settlements and the restoration of our Palestinian rights.
[ For a full understanding of Hamas' definition of "Palestinian rights", be sure to read the Hamas Charter]
DIE WELT: Can there be an inter-Palestinian agreement?
Yassin: We reached an accommodation when Mahmud Abbas came into office. He approached us with certain demands and we fulfilled them. Ahmed Qureia has been to see us. But he came without any demands. His only wish the last time we met was that the dialogue would continue.
DIE WELT: And what is the substance of this inter-Palestinian dialogue?
Yassin: Our mutual interests. Qureia also wants the settlements to be evacuated and for the assassinations to stop. Freedom. For our land and for our people to be on the land. He wants an independent Palestinian state.
DIE WELT: You’re sitting here in your own home after several weeks of hiding underground. Is that over?
Yassin: That was a precaution. The Israelis crossed a red line in their fight against us. Which ultimately only shows how vulnerable we are to their attacks. That is why we counter-attack.
DIE WELT: Do the attacks seem to be slowing?
Yassin: The Israelis have stopped their assassinations for now. But they keep killing in other ways.
DIE WELT: Does that mean that you will carry out more bombings in Israel?
Yassin: Why not? As long as Palestinian civilians are victims of Israeli attacks, then Israeli civilians will also be victims.
DIE WELT: There were also civilian victims in Istanbul. What’s your position on the bombings there?
Yassin (Looking surprised: Istanbul? His advisors tell him about the attacks on synagogues and British institutions in Turkey. He shakes his head in astonishment): The murder of Jews and Christians, who stay as guests under Islamic protection, I cannot support.
DIE WELT: Do you condemn those attacks?
Yassin: I know neither the objectives nor the identity of the attackers. Therefore I cannot support them.
If it wasn’t already clear before reading this interview, the root causes of the Palestinian problem are (a) the Sheikh Yassins of this world believe it’s their God-given duty to kill Jews (and Christians) until they agree to “live as guests under Islamic protection”; and (b) there is no Palestinian authority that is either willing or able to confront the Sheikh Yassins and implement a peace. Everything else is just icing on the cake.