Will the people of Gaza continue to support Hamas despite the terrible consequences?
The Palestinians of Gaza are saying we are suffering because of the crimes of Israel. Even with the carnage and their homes reduced to rubble, they say, “Mr. Khaled Meshaal, we don’t want to emerge from this war without breaking the siege. We were dying slowly. Now we are dying instantly because of the F-16s and all the Israeli and American technology.” The Palestinian people have had enough. They do not make distinctions between slow death and instant death. They say, “Our families are targeted in their homes. However, we want to resist, to insist on lifting the siege.”
How does the killing stop? What do you want?
Human beings have to defend themselves. If we are starved, if we are besieged, we have to defend ourselves. When [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu stops every effort to reach peace, the rest of the world ought to expect an explosion in the West Bank and Gaza. What do I believe Hamas needs or wants? Peace. But we want peace without occupation, without settlements, without Judaization, without the siege. We want to live on par with every single nation. We need to live in Palestine.
“You think the key is trust. We actually are enemies. They are the occupiers. The solution doesn’t start with trust. … How could I trust my enemy?”
Will you pledge not to eradicate Israel? Do you want to live in coexistence with Israel?
I do not coexist with occupation and with settlements. Do you think that Palestinians who suffer from occupation and settlements can eradicate Israel? No, this is beguiling, misleading propaganda. … We in Hamas believe in moderation of Islam. We are not fanatics. We do not fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers. I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, with the Arabs, with the non-Arabs. I do coexist with other religions. … When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian people can have their say. There are disproportionate standards, but we have the upper hand. Every single occupation ends, and the people are victorious.
How do you create trust between Israelis and Palestinians?
You think the key is trust. We actually are enemies. They are the occupiers. The solution doesn’t start with trust. The international community’s full mission is to say to the Israeli occupation, “Stop. Enough is enough.” They ought to compel Israel to withdraw. How could I trust my enemy? We had a number of negotiations. The negotiations failed.
Some suggest, to preserve Israel’s security, the sovereignty of a Palestinian state must be restricted.
Why does the world understand Israeli security issues and not take heed of Palestinian security issues? In order to have a Palestinian state, why ought that state be demilitarized? Who accepts a state without arms? It will be subject to the aggression of others. I cannot accept any tutelage of any other entity. If you say, “Come, you are Palestinian. We can give you a piece here and a piece there in piecemeal fashion”—no. No.
Do you need the approval of the military wing of Hamas to commit to any agreement?
We are not two heads or two bodies. We are one single movement. When the political leadership commits to something, then the military wing will commit itself, too. If the leaders take a decision, then every single person, whether militant or civilian, they will follow.
Why are you in Qatar and not Gaza?
This is a very reasonable question. You can ask not only Khaled Meshaal, you can ask the 6 million people in the diaspora. Why are they not in the West Bank? Why are they not in Gaza? Because Israel expelled the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. I’m from the West Bank. Since 1967, I was expelled. I used to live in Jordan, in Kuwait, when I used to be a student. Then I moved to Syria and now Qatar. You have hundreds and thousands of Palestinians in America. They long to go back to Palestine. Although they are American citizens, Palestinians long for their home country. That’s why we insist on the return of the refugees, for me and for others to return. My natural existence is there, but I’m compelled to be here.