As a new spirit of unity sweeps the Arab world, Palestine must also speak with one voice We as a people want to live in our homeland in freedom, dignity and democracy
Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away. This is what is happening in the Middle East today. Political reality returns, and all that is contingent — all that is not rooted in the history of the region's people whose civilisation dates back thousands of years — falls away.
As Palestinian Arabs inhabiting these ancient lands, our destiny dictated that we should become like a fruit overhanging a garden fence: each passer-by would try to pluck us, while we struggled to cling to the vine. But our right to our land and our nation is not a matter of discussion or debate: it is an inalienable right guaranteed by all norms and laws. The “Palestinian problem” has many dimensions, but at its root is Israel's occupation, which denies this inalienable right, and attempts to look for so-called “solutions” within its framework. Unfortunately, some of the major world powers provide it with political cover.
We as a people want to live in our homeland, the land of our ancestors, in freedom, dignity and democracy, and with a just peace that restores our rights. We do not want to attack anyone and do not accept anyone attacking us. As we have said on more than one occasion, the key to security is the end of occupation. As a people we have been historically wronged and subjected to dozens of massacres; tens of thousands of us have lost our children for no other reason than that we demand our rights as clearly stipulated under international laws.
I would like to reiterate on behalf of my people our sincere desire to live in security and stability, without wars and bloodshed; we hope that the world will help us in this venture. We extend our hand to all those who seek a just peace to work seriously to end the occupation and help us establish our state, which the world has already recognised.
We recognise that this requires a Palestinian unity that we seek to achieve. But external pressure has stood in the way, obstructing the path to political equality and national reconciliation. We believe that the absence of international recognition of the Palestinian democratic election of 2006, won by Hamas, has contributed to the current state of division, and to the creation of a weak Palestinian side that has fallen prey to accepting concessions on the rights of its people.
But today we stand again as a Palestinian people. Although under siege in the Gaza Strip, we have endured war and aggression, and withstood attempts to wipe us out without fading away. We are working hard in order to be able to address the world with one voice that represents the will of all our people, with an emphasis on the desire to live a free, decent and secure life.
We hope that this time we will be able to pass through the neck of the bottle and move on towards a genuine national reconciliation based on the formation of a coalition government that could prepare for free and transparent elections. And then the world must recognise the results of Palestinian democracy — particularly now, when the countries of the Arab spring are experiencing democratic transition, and a return to a lost authenticity that will not tear the region apart, but bring it together.
We do not want more blood. We want help in achieving justice for our people who lost their land and freedom decades ago, and in providing security for a region that has long endured oppression and suffering. This is a responsibility no one should evade. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2012
(Ismail Haniyeh is Palestinian authority prime minister and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip.)