United World International has organized an international webinar on “West Asia and Palestine” with participation from Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Pakistan on June 10th, 2021.
We will present the full text of the speeches held on the webinar in the coming days, starting today with the Keynote speaker, Dr. Basem Naim, Head of the International Relations Bureau of Hamas and former Minister of Health in Gaza.
Below is the speech of Dr. Naim as delivered. Subheadings were set by UWI.
Thank you very much and good evening for all your honored participants here. First of all I have also to thank the United World for extensive efforts to organize this webinar at this very crucial and historic moment of struggle with the Zionist occupation and I am very thankful to your team that was in contact with me all the time to reach this very comfortable meeting and to meet this very honored participants.
Second I have really to thank you again to use the term West Asian countries or West Asian regions, because this is a sign that we are trying to get rid or to get out of the colonial terminology of talking about the Middle East and Near East. And for me, this is a good start and a positive sign. Thank you very much.
First of all, I have to fix some points as an introduction, and then I leave the rest for the questions if any of the participants or the guests or via chatting, if we have another question.
I hope that this webinar and other webinars I have, I was participating in a lot of webinars along the last few days and during the escalation, during the attacks and the aggression on Gaza, and we hoped all the time not to have such webinars only because, or based on, or after aggressions and we loose hundreds of our beloved people to discuss this very important and central topic of the region.
Palestinian struggle is going on since 7 decades
Anyway, thank you very much again.
First of all, I have to remember the participants and the audience that this conflict or our struggle, the Palestinian struggle against the occupation didn’t start by the last escalation. Because a lot of international media and a lot of supports of the Zionist entity here on the ground are trying to portray the conflict as if it is started only at the moment Hamas or the resistance movements or the Palestinians launched rockets against the most civilized and the most peaceful country and taking the whole struggle into a very wrong direction and a very misleading context.
Our struggle started more then 70 years ago when 78 percent of our land was occupied by the Zionist gangs. And in 1967, the rest of the historical Palestine was also occupied. Since 1948 the Palestinians are struggling to regain their country to return back to their homes there, from where they were forcefully expelled by massacres well documented even by Israeli historians.
Therefore, our struggle started decades ago. Maybe this is one of the stations on the long way of the struggle against the Zionist occupation, but we have always to keep in mind. This is a struggle from occupied people against occupation. And we have not to, we should not accept any other narrative during political discussions or during media interviews.
Along these seven decades of struggle with the Zionist entity, Palestinians have given all chances to the international community, to the region, even to the Zionists themselves, all chances of achieving a political, peaceful solution to gain our basic rights which is guaranteed by the international law and to achieve our dreams of an independent, sovereign state, to return back to our homes, villages and cities. And all these chances were wasted, but spoiled and destroyed by the Israelis and supported also by the Americans.
Israeli and the Americans have spoiled every chance for a peaceful solution
At least in the last escalation, I mean the last aggression against Gaza, in the first hour after the aggression, the UN and some regional forces they have contacted the leadership of our movement to achieve a ceasefire. And we have accepted this ceasefire immediately, but the Israelis have refused to stop fighting, to stop firing or launching rockets against our people, to kill our innocent civilians. And during these 11 days, the Americans have blocked a Security Council meeting four times in order to give the Israelis more and more chances, more time to continue their crimes and to achieve their between military and security goals.
I mean, this is one example how the Israelis and are intentionally and bland wasting or spoiling any chance of a peaceful or a calm resolution.
The second point is, we are participating in a lot of webinars and a lot of interviews in international media and we have always faced the same narrative. You can see that even a lot of our supporters, supporting countries, supporting journalists, more or less they are adopting the Israeli narratives. It doesn’t mean that they are intentionally doing this, but it is so overwhelming that when we are describing the situation on the ground, I mean the conflict, the long-standing conflict, or the last event, most of the time we are adopting the Israeli narrative.
It is not terrorism, it is not Hamas launching rockets, it is resistance against occupation. There is an occupying power, which is Israel, and the occupied people, who are the Palestinians, and they have all the right to resist all this occupation by all means including armed resistance. And this is guaranteed in the international law in paragraph 51 of the UN Charta. Therefore, it is resistance, it is the right of the Palestinians to resist, and therefore we cannot as Palestinians deny or undermine our resisting the occupation and we cannot accept the be the smart, or the nice victims to be attacked and killed 24 hours seven days a week without doing anything.
This is not between Hamas and Israel, this is between an occupied people and the occupying power
This is one example. Another example is, they are always portraying the scene as if it is the problem between Hamas and Israel. It is not a problem between Hamas and Israel. If you have followed up the whole situation, in the last months alone, you have seen the Palestinians resisting in Jerusalem first, in Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa compounds, in 48 territories, in West Bank and in Gaza. Maybe in different places, but all Palestinians have resisted this occupation. It is not the problem of Hamas or the Resistance and Israel.
Especially, if we have always raised the question as a response to this misleading question. Ok, you have a problem here in Gaza with Hamas with rockets and with tunnels. But what is the problem in Sheikh Jarrah? Where is Hamas in Al Aqsa compound? Where is Hamas, or the tunnels, or the rockets in West Bank in the settlements? Again, they are trying to mislead the whole discussion and in a context, which is serving the Israeli narrative to portray the Israel as the most civilized state, the most democratic one, respecting human rights, respecting international law, the state, which is representing the Western countries, the western civilization, dealing with rogue groups, with gangs, with terrorists and so on.
Again: Israel is always talking about peace. But all the time, using these negotiations, between brackets, to gain more time to implement their plans. Therefore, our problem for example today is not, because a lot of people are asking us, ‘what do you mean about the current government and the coming government’. There is no difference. Not only not between the right and right extremists, even with the leftists. The settlements activities for example is going on since decades under the leftist government and the rightist government and all governments and mixed governments. It is a strategy against the Palestinians, when it comes to the Palestinians, all the Zionist regimes have the same policies and the same strategies.
Back to the last aggression against our people on Gaza. I have to say that the Israelis have miscalculated a lot of things. First of all, they have thought now they have the best chance, based on a new administration in America, which is very busy with China, with Iran, with other issues, based on region, which is busy with its own problems in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq everywhere, based on normalization agreements with some Arabic countries, UAE, Khartoum, Morocco and so on.. This is the best chance to make a final step when it comes to the Palestinians, or the Arabs, or the Muslim presence in Al Quds.
Therefore they have taken two steps at the same time. They have planned to storm the mosque with 30.000 settlers, extremists, and to start, to initiate the process of forceful expelling of evacuation of Palestinian presence from Al Quds. You are hearing about Sheikh Jarrah, but at the same time, there is a problem in Sheikh Zarah, in Silwan, Batn al Hawa, Hay al Bustani.. A lot of neighborhoods.
The presence of the Palestinians in Jerusalem have to be ended. They have miscalculated the ability, or the capability or the will of the resistance or the Palestinians to respond so harsh. The unity of Palestinians. Therefore, they have tried to attack Jerusalem, They have tried to attack the right of existing as a refugee, and lastly they have tried to attack our right to resist their occupation. And all of our inherited, yani, genuine rights in the international law. Because we have seen before this escalation that all international organization and a lot of countries, they have stated clearly that Israel has no right to change the status quo of the Al Aqsa compound and has no right to expel Palestinians from their homes.
Therefore the problem started in Jerusalem and in Gaza and other Palestinians have responded to the Israeli aggressions and atrocities, because we have said it repeatedly: Jerusalem, Al Quds is a red line, and Israel and its gangs are playing with fire. And therefore, it is not Gaza, it is not Nablus, it is not Janine. It is Al Quds! It is Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for 1.7 billion Muslims around the world. It is the first Qibla for Muslims. By the way, it is not only Al Aqsa, even Christian churches were attacked repeatedly. Palestinians have sent a clear message: There is now way to keep silent, or to be a smart victim.
Hamas wants a civil state and civil rights
When it comes to Hamas, I have to define it as a Palestinian, national Palestinian Resistance Movement. Yes, we define ourselves as a resistance with an Islamic background, but we are considering ourselves as a national resistance movement believing in a civil state and in civil rights.
During the last 15 or 16 years, after the election in 2006, the international community, mainly the Americans have rejected the results of the elections and have tried to exclude Hamas from the political scene, from the political theater and to expel it out, by imposing and suffocating a siege on 2 million peoples in Gaza and by cutting the government and boycotting financially also all governmental activities. Add to this at least four big Israeli operations: 2008, 2012, 2014 and now 2021.
In all these attempts, they have failed. And if you go back, to the paper done by Hadi Ammer in Brookings Institute, he is stating this clearly. ‘We have failed to exclude Hamas from the scene’. But he doesn’t reach the right answer to his question. The right answer is: Hamas is not a military group or a gang. Hamas today is representing today nearly 50 percent of the Palestinians.
And the problem, when it comes to Palestine and Palestinian rights, it is not only with Hamas. Before that, it was Fatah, now with Hamas, maybe in 10 years with another group, Jihad Islami. Therefore, all these trials or attempts to exclude Hamas have failed and Hamas today is more stronger than years ago.
No one can impose a leadership on the Palestinians
Therefore, we have said it repeatedly and clearly: On one has the right to impose a leadership on the Palestinian people. We have the right to elect our leadership and to choose our unified political platform. No one has the right to impose a leadership designed to fit with the criteria or with the measures of the occupation. A leadership which facilitating to institutionalize the occupation and settlements on our land.
Again, we have the right to choose our leadership, free and democratically, transparently, through elections. And we are ready to accept all the results regardless what, and no one has the right to impose a leadership.
Another point. I can understand because I have participants today from different countries from West Asian region, I can understand that all the countries are trying or to keep this, or to be in an equal distance from all Palestinian parties and to have good and open relationship to the official party of the PA (Palestinian Authority, UWI) in Ramallah. Ok fine. I don’t have anything against this. But we have always to remember when we initiate the relationship to the Palestinians or the Palestinian leaderships, that today no leadership, I am talking mainly about the PA in Ramallah, has legitimacy or credibility based on something tangible.
Palestinian Authority has shown “zero action” in recent escalation
The last elections we have in 2006, we were preparing ourselves for election in 2020, 2021, and Mr. Abbas has cancelled the election.
When it comes to the resistance and resisting the occupation, what we call the revolutionary legitimacy, Abbas is totally against any kind of resistance against the occupation, at least, believing only in peace negotiations.
This leadership in Ramallah, their political projects or track have failed totally, which is the Oslo Agreement. And it has empowered the occupation even more and more in our land. Today, compared to the time before Oslo era, today you have instead of 100 or 80 thousand settlers more then 800 thousand settlers inside the West Bank.
They have divided the Palestinian people in two parts and they have spoiled all the chances, by the Egyptians, by the Qataris, by the Turkish government, by the Russians, by the UN to reunify the Palestinians and to form a unilateral national government. Again, their political, you can follow up or you can make a study about the political achievements or political actions during the escalation starting from Sheikh Jarrah up to ceasefire moment: Zero actions! Zero actions! Not available, out of reach.
You cannot talk about a real, serious leadership, therefore again, why not to initiate, I’m asking all countries, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, other countries, why no to initiate a relationship to all Palestinian factions at the same time, at the same level? And second, why not to play a role in unifying the Palestinians? And so that we can have a unified Palestinian front, can move to task to the international community, or struggle against the occupation in a unified front and to have a unified political platform, a unified vision, how to struggle? How can we achieve our goals?
Lastly I have to say as an introduction: what we are asking, or what we are expecting from our brother and sisters supporters in West Asia or in other countries at the official level and at the popular level, or a public level.
Political and diplomatic support
First of all, full political and diplomatic support. Today, we have a lot of UN resolutions, which is in favor of Palestinian rights, in favor of a Palestinian state. Allowing the Palestinians to return to their homes. In favor of Palestinian struggle, including armed struggle. A lot of UN resolutions are in favor of Palestinian rights.
Why not to strongly support, to issue laws and resolutions and rules in your own countries and at the international level, at the regional level to support this politically and diplomatically?
The second point to exercise all kinds of pressures, politically, diplomatically, and the media and other issues to stop the current threats to the Palestinians inside the Palestinian territories, to stop the aggressions the Al Aqsa compound, to stop the forceful expelling of Palestinians from their homes in Al Quds, Sheikh Jarrah, Batn Al Hawa ant others, and to lift the siege on Gaza. What is the explanation, the moral or legal cause to besiege two million people in a suffocating siege? People here are really suffering, poverty more than 80 percent, electricity is not available, water is polluted, sewage is polluting the sea, fishing is, crossings are closed, why to continue this suffocating siege? Gaza is considered as biggest open-air prison and considered from the UN in 2020 as an unlivable place.
Therefore, we are looking for support to end or to stop the current threats to the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, in Al Quds and to lift the siege on Gaza. We are looking for humanitarian support. If anyone cannot be politically active, then they can be active at the humanitarian level. There are a lot of possibilities, when it comes to health sector, to social affairs or orphans, where support can be provided. There are a lot of ways to reach the people here and to support them. Either through international bodies such as UN, WHO or through local, national organizations. We have Turkish organization, we have Indonesian organization and so on and so on. Therefore, we are looking for humanitarian support.
Before last, the media support. If anyone cannot support us politically, or at the humanitarian level, but at least he can talk on behalf of us in the international media.
We are censored all the time. We are, the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of these, YouTube, are trying day and night to silence the Palestinians and to exclude their narrative. Therefore, you can do this job, talking on behalf of the Palestinians. We are not asking to fabricate stories or to.. We are asking everyone to convey the reality here on the ground, how people are imprisoned, how people are massacred, how people there are atrocities in Sheikh Jarrah and so on.
Boycott Israeli products
Therefore we are looking to support the Palestinian narrative in the media, but not only social media but I’m talking also about mainstream media, including some of our media outlets in our Arabic or Islamic countries.
Finally, I am looking for at least, who cannot support us politically, or at the humanitarian level or media, at the individual level, I think each one can participate in boycotting and calling for boycotting the Zionist entity and refusing and rejecting any projects of normalization with this Zionist entity, with this colonial project.
Therefore, if you cannot do anything, at least boycott or call for boycotting the Zionist entity. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement against Israel, UWI) is, the idea of BDS and activities of BDS are available. If you go to the supermarket, no one is obliging you or forcing you to buy the Israeli products. You have to remember always that buying the Israeli products means that you are participating directly in buying on and purchasing of a bullet to kill a Palestinian child, because 60 percent of the Israeli taxes are going or arte transferred immediately to the army.
And I have to say lastly, if don’t boycott, if you boycott the occupation, you will not die. If you boycott, you will not die. You have a lot of alternatives. But if you don’t boycott the occupation, others will die, which is the Palestinians.
If you boycott, you will not die, but if you don’t boycott, others, Palestinians will die.
Thank you very much and again I am honored to have this introduction, and I am ready to hear from you and to hear any question.