Dr. Basem Naim, one of the leaders of the Palestinian resistance organization HAMAS, has spoken to UWI expert Onur Sinan Güzaltan about the recent events in East Jerusalem.
Naim has been Minister of Health in Palestine and is currently member of Hamas’ International Relations Bureau. He said his organization would give a “strong and clear response” to Israeli attacks on East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He also welcomed recent Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement, considering these steps as important against Israel’s regional divide-and-rule politics and positive for the Palestinian Cause”.
Could you describe what is happening at the East Jerusalem exactly?
For decades, Israeli governments from all parties have planned the Judaisation of Al Quds, including the expelling the Palestinians from the holy city by force. This was common practice and bas been implemented by all means through the past decades. But the implementation has recently become worse because of two reasons: Firstly, the Zionist society has taken an extreme shift to the right, so that today, right-wing extreme groups have the upper hand in the Knesset and in the government. Secondly, a catastrophic situation has emerged in the Arabic and Islamic region, where all countries are busy with their own problems, while some of them initiated and launched coalitions with the Zionist occupation force at the cost of our cause.
“Israel is attempting ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Al Quds”
Based on these two tendencies, we observe today a great escalation in Israeli plans to pursue Judaisation of Al Quds and expel the Palestinians by force. This means nothing less than the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Al Quds.
The events reached a peak when Israel tried to expel 28 Palestinian families from their homes by force in the Sheikh Jarrah district. Israel planned to give these houses to Jewish settlers.
This is against international law against humanitarian law and against the obligations of Israel as occupant power.
The second incident is the Israeli government’s attempt to encourage Israeli extremists to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 28th day of Ramadan. Their idea is to pray inside the mosque and thus establish a new division within the mosque between Moslems and Jews, both in terms of prayer times and physical separation. But this will not going to happen, the Palestinians will fight and resist to these plans.
What do you think about the timing of the Israeli provocations at al Aqsa Mosque?
The Israeli have chosen a moment when the Palestinians and Arabs are divided among themselves and the Muslims are busy with internal conflicts.
And also they know that the will of international community is so paralyzed that Israel does not need to fear any serious or concrete actions from there.
How will the Palestinian liberation organizations respond to the Israeli aggression?
The response of all Palestinians, not only the resistance movement including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will be strong and clear.
We will resist all these plans and we are ready to sacrifices, including our lives, to prevent Judaisation of Al Quds and Al Aqsa Mosque, and stop the ethnic cleansing of our people in the old city of Al Quds or in Sheikh Jarrah.
We will not accept a new NAQBAH.
The elections, scheduled for on May 22nd, have been cancelled. What is the roadmap of Hamas for upcoming period?
Regarding the elections, unfortunately Mr. Mahmoud Abbas postponed them, or better said, canceled the elections planned for 22 of May without any consultation of Palestinians fractions or other parties. He has used the elections in Jerusalem as an excuse to cancel the elections.
We know that this is not the true reason. The true reasons are internal problems within Al Fatah, their internal divisions, fear to lose the elections and to lose the leadership.
Hamas, the great majority of Palestinian fractions, civil society and also the new nominees for the Parliament have the same stance and position: they are against the cancellation of elections.
A possible cancellation or postponement of elections must first be consulted with all Palestinians fractions and leaders, and secondly, we have to have alternative plan on what to do.
Hamas’ plan forward
Hamas is studying and discussing a plan with other fractions and leaders on how to move forward. The first goal will be to create a National Palestinian Front in order to exercise all kind of pressure on Mahmoud Abbas, demanding a return to held elections.
Secondly, Hamas is planning to exercise more pressure to have a new beginning, starting from the Palestinians National Congress, which is the congress of the Palestinian Liberation Organization PLO and not by the Palestinian Legislative Council, which is tool of PLO in the Ramallah.
Third, we have to exercise all kind of pressure against the occupation, to facilitate elections in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. And we should not give them any chance to manipulate or veto against our internal plan or systems.
“Turkish-Egyptian reconciliation is positive”
How do you evaluate the Turkish-Egyptian normalization process? Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu gave some indications in his last statement that Turkey and Egypt could work together on the Palestinian issue, if the normalization process between Ankara and Cairo succeeds. What is your judgment?
Any reconciliation between Islamic countries, like what we hear about the activity between Turkey and Egypt, it considered positive by Hamas. We consider it a very important and strong support for Palestinian issue, because we know that one of the main of the tools of the Zionist entity against the Palestinians is to divide the Muslims based on the principle of “divide-and-rule”. Therefore the unity between Muslims is a strong support for the Palestinian issue.
Do you have a message for the countries of the region and especially for Turkey? Are you waiting for concrete steps?
Sure we are expecting more from Islamic countries when it comes to Al Quds and Al Aqsa Mosque. Al Aqsa does not only belong to the Palestinians, it belongs to all Muslims and Arabs around the world.
Therefore defending Al Quds and Al Aqsa is a duty of all Muslims.
Stating some words here and there is not enough to stop these Israeli plans and crimes against the Palestinians, against the mosques and churches.
Therefore we are expecting more serious practical steps at the political level, for example boycotting or cutting off relations with Zionist Entity.
We are expecting more at the economic level, the diplomatic level and from the UN Security Council.
“We expect more from Arabic and Islamic countries”
I think there is a lot to do from the Islamic and Arabic countries, including Turkey, when it comes to Palestine, Al Quds and Al Aqsa.
Specially, we are proud of the history of Turkey during the Ottoman Caliphate to defend Palestine and Palestinian cause.
We proudly remember, how the Sultan Abdul Hamid II refused the give to Zionist any piece of land in Palestine, even if this would have cost him his life.
Therefore, Palestine, Al Quds, Al Aqsa, the churches is not a matter of duty of Palestinians alone. It is a matter and a duty for all Muslims and Arabs and big countries like Turkey.