The head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), has praised the revolution of the Tunisian people which, he said, "paved the way for the Arab Spring".
Speaking to the participants of the Al-Nahda Party conference in Tunis, Khaled Meshaal thanked the Tunisian people, "who embraced the Palestinian cause at an early stage".
Meshaal called on the leaders of the Arab Spring to "build on internal popular legitimacy and not bend to foreign pressure which wants to guide the Arab Spring according to their own interests." He stressed the importance of a consensus between the various parties in the political arena across the Arab Spring countries. "This should prevent a monopoly of power for any political party, even if it won the majority of votes," he said.
On the Palestinian issue, Meshaal renewed his commitment to the resistance option as a means to liberate Palestine, saying: "Twenty-one years since the Madrid Conference peace has turned to surrender, and today we remind everyone that the essence of the Palestinian issue lies in the liberation of Palestine in full, the liberation of Jerusalem, the return of refugees and the release of prisoners in the prisons of the occupation." He reminded the audience that Hamas had been able, by the grace and assistance of God, to obtain the release of some of the prisoners. "And we will free the rest, by God's will, in spite of Israel."
Re-affirming that resistance is the way to liberate Palestine, Meshaal insisted that the land that was taken by force can only be restored by force. "These are the laws of history; we did not take Gaza except by force, we did not liberate South Lebanon except by force, and even Sinai was liberated by force."
Meshaal laid emphasis on reconciliation as a strategic option for Hamas and called on Fatah to contribute to the process by providing a suitable political and social climate, saying: "Political divisions and differences in views are normal, but it is unnatural that they should turn into a geographical and political split. The division is not a natural Palestinian phenomenon, it was imposed on us after the 2006 elections, the results of which the world refused to recognise. However, just as the world acknowledged your election success in Tunisia, it will one day recognise ours in Palestine."
He added that Hamas will continue with its efforts towards reconciliation and unity, "because both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are dear parts of Palestine". Both, insisted Meshaal, should be part of one political system, one authority and one reference through the rebuilding of Palestinian Liberation. "We understand that there is an international conspiracy against reconciliation, but we do not understand the obstacles to reconciliation coming from our fellow Palestinians, poisoning the atmosphere."
He called for an end to political arrests, torture, and security coordination with the occupation authorities in order to complete the reconciliation process.
Meshaal also called on the leaders of Fatah to cooperate on an investigation into the assassination of Yasser Arafat, saying: "Before the Aljazeera programme on Arafat's death, I was the first to accuse the Israeli occupation of his assassination, as it had assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin beforehand." Israel, he continued, divides us for tactical purposes but still regard all Palestinians as the enemy. "Here, I extend my hand to my brothers in Fatah to work together in order to prosecute the Zionists for the blood of President Arafat."
Meshaal appealed to all Palestinian leaders to put aside their differences and unite to confront the occupation: "I am in Tunisia to chair a senior delegation of Hamas, but I am attending in my capacity as a national Palestinian leader. I invite all our partners in the Palestinian political arena to put an end to our political deterioration and stop the begging and political humiliation; stick to the Palestinian constants; and put an end to the fragmentation and division."