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Posted On: 11 January 2009 01:51 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

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EUROPE had missed a rare chance to start a dialogue with Hamas as an Islamic political party following its victory in the Palestinian elections in January 2006, a former member of the Israeli parliament has said. Azmi Bishara said that Europe, instead, endeavoured to overthrow the Hamas-led government from day one of its formation under pressure from the US and Israel. The lecture on ‘Democracy and resistance’ was organised by the Arab Democracy Foundation at the Diplomatic Club on Thursday. He also blamed the Arab regimes who suddenly became moderate and turned against the democratically elected Hamas-led government. Bishara, an Arab-Israeli, said that it was a mistake to arrange parliamentary elections before the Palestinians had sovereignty over the entire Palestinian lands, saying that the people could go to vote only after achieving national unity. He said that the Hamas victory was a revolt against corruption and the results transformed the movement from social to political. The former lawmaker said that the Jewish state followed a carrot and stick policy by easing the blockade against the Fatah dominated West Bank. Bishara said that the main target of the Israeli operation in Gaza was to disarm Hamas. He criticised the recent remarks of French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Hamas made an “unforgivable mistake” by firing rockets into south Israel. He said Sarkozy was supposed to tell the Israeli occupation about their mistakes. Bishara asked: “What do you expect from the Gazans, 75% of whom are refugees and living in ghettos?” He said that Israel exploited the Bush-Obama transition period to launch the operation. He said that the Arab peoples demonstrated on the streets not only to express their solidarity with the Palestinians but to protest against their “suppressive regimes” and the hypocrisy of their leaders. The Gaza crisis proved that the Arab popular movement was still alive, he said. He described the Israeli attacks as a cowardly operation against children. He asked: “Could you imagine if the victims were American kids and not Arabs. I am sure that the sky would fall. Where are the Western slogans of human rights and global values?” Bishara dismissed Israeli claims that Hamas supporters were hiding behind civilians, saying that it was normal that they lived among their own people. Bishara criticised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “for continuing to kiss the Israeli leaders against the mood of his people.” Addressing Abbas, Bshara said: “It is unacceptable to keep 500 political prisoners in your jails and then to call them criminal prisoners.” On the Egyptian stance during the crisis, Bishara said that Cairo behaved according to its interests but that the Egyptian initiative should concentrate on importing food as well as opening the crossings and lifting the ban on bank transfers. Bishara praised Turkey’s “independent position” opposing the Israeli aggression. The lecture was attended by Minister of Culture HE Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari and many Arab ambassadors. At the start, the participants observed a minute’s silence in honour of the Gaza victims.