In an interview conducted with translators, a one-word response stood out for needing no translation.
Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, sat down with CBS News’ Charlie Rose on Saturday for an interview that aired, in part, on Sunday morning’s “Face the Nation.”
“We are not fanatics,” Meshaal claimed. “We are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers.”
Rose asked if Hamas could live side-by-side with Israel if Israeli troops left Palestinian areas, but Meshaal chose his words carefully, saying he was happy to coexist with “Jews and Christians,” but he did not say he could live with Israelis in particular.
Rose pressed him on the point, finally asking, ”Do you want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?”
Meshaal’s shaking head made his answer clear before the translator spoke: “No.”
He quickly hedged his bets with some ambiguity.
“When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies,” Meshaal said. “But you cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you. But Palestinian people can have their say, when they have their own state, without occupation.”
Meshaal’s careful phrasing about “coexist[ing]” seems to echo the language of Hamas’ charter, which says the organization “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist.”
The charter describes Hamas’ violence as a “humanistic movement” because “under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism — to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam.”
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