"This Society Does Not Want Extremism": Interview with Mustafa Barghouti

"This Society Does Not Want Extremism": Interview with Mustafa Barghouti (Photo: dpa)

Mr Barghouti, the impact of the Arab Spring is also being felt in the autonomous Palestinian territories – most evidently at the present time in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Assad regime, long an ally of Hamas, has completely discredited itself politically and morally. It was this that led to the Hamas withdrawal from Damascus. How much of an influence do events in Syria have on Hamas?

Mustafa Barghouti: There is one positive aspect that I myself have also noticed in my dealings with Hamas. The success of the Arab Spring – particularly in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia – shows us just how potent a force non-violence can be. I have been an advocate of non-violence for more than ten years. During the last Hamas meeting in Cairo one could see that the organisation had changed its position and actually decided to take the path of non-violence. It seems to me that the changes in the Arab world have had quite a considerable influence in this respect.

Does this mean that Hamas is also changing in strategic and ideological terms?

Barghouti: In my opinion it has definitely changed in regard to three points. Firstly, it has now accepted the two-state solution.

Secondly, it now accepts non-violence; it is adopting forms of civil resistance. This is something the organisation made very clear recently in Cairo. And thirdly – though we still have to see how serious it is on this point – it has accepted the idea of a democratic electoral system, though this, too, is a point that has not yet been put to the test.

But if we take it that Hamas really has accepted these three principles, then this will mean significant changes. For me, this is an encouraging sign, because it shows that currently something is happening.

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Interview by Kersten Knipp

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