Exclusive: Mohammed Dahlan on Israel-Hamas War, Biden’s Career
AAs calls grow for a cease-fire in Gaza, speculation grows over just who has the credit to help broker a deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Mohammed Dahlan – a former national security adviser and leader of the Fatah party – was once seen by Washington and the Arab world as a mediator between Tel Aviv and Gaza. Dahlan has spent the better part of the last decade in the UAE, effectively exiled from his home country and without an official role in government.
In an interview on November 15 in Dubai, Dahlan says that while he believes that only the US can make a lasting peace agreement, President Joe Biden’s role in the conflict risks a cycle of Palestinian resistance is not “the end.”
He rarely gives interviews to the Western media, Dahlan is now flirting with the media. A recent proposal for a two-year transitional government of technocrats in Gaza and the West Bank raises questions about whether he could make a play for the presidency.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
TIME: When you think about what peace would look like, is there peace for the Israelis and the Palestinians that includes Benjamin Netanyahu?
Mohammed Dahlan: Netanyahu is the biggest liar in the history of the Israeli people. He is a liar to his people, not to us. He destroyed the State of Israel and not the Palestinian people. Therefore, we could not make peace with him in the past, and whoever believes that they can make peace with him in the future or the future is deluded.
He is committing this massacre against children in Gaza to protect his political position and position in Israel. He doesn’t care about Israel’s security, he doesn’t care about Israeli citizens, not to mention Palestinians, so he wants this war to drag on and on.
As a Palestinian, do you believe that Hamas should be punished for the attack on Israel?
Let’s assume that Hamas does not exist; Is there anyone in Israel who can stand up boldly and say that it is time to give the Palestinian people a State of Palestine with the borders of 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital? And live in peace with the Palestinian people? If such a person is found, you will find that the majority of the Palestinian people will support this.
We are not warmongers, but we defend ourselves valiantly. We are not the ones who want to kill others, but if others come to kill us, we have the right to defend ourselves. That is why we are encouraged by the position of the US administration and some leaders of the international community when they repeat Netanyahu’s lies that Israel has the right to defend itself. This means that Israel has the right to kill innocent people and children and enter and destroy hospitals? This is how Israel interprets this permission it received from the US Secretary of State, President Biden, and leaders in Europe.
But again, the whole world is watching. Do you believe that Hamas should be punished? Yes or no?
I mean, there is nothing in the Palestinian conflict that can be answered with a yes or a no. Have you heard a single statement from Israel condemning the killing of innocent children? I am not talking about militants in Gaza. There was none. Secondly, did you hear a European official criticizing the statements of Israeli officials about the use of gas and mass killing in this large prison in the Gaza Strip? There was none. Therefore, for any Palestinian or any Arab who defends the rights of the Palestinians to say yes or no, we will not say it.
Would you consider becoming part of a government in the future?
It is the international community that decided that Mahmoud Abbas would remain in power without elections. Israel, the US and the West. They decided for us. When Israel and Abbas rejected Jerusalem’s alleged elections, they wanted to deepen corruption, deepen the divide between the West Bank and Gaza, and expand their occupation. This theory failed after October 7, and anyone who wants to make the same mistakes again will have to suffer in the future.
But, yes or no question, would you be willing to be part of the Palestinian government in the future?
No, of course not.
But I will help, if there is a chance to rebuild the Palestinian political system. Then yes, I will definitely help because I have credibility on the Palestinian street … I have a relationship with all the organizations, which allows them to listen to me. But personally, I certainly won’t be, and I don’t want to be.
You are a rather controversial figure. What can you do to help the Palestinian people?
No one who isn’t controversial is useful, that’s my opinion. Secondly, regarding the relationship that I have built over the past years, I think that I have a good relationship with all the groups. I have a relationship with civil society, I have a relationship with Hamas, with the [Islamic] Jihad, by the Popular Front, by all groups. They all tried me when I was not in power, and they saw that I did not give up. Now how can I help? I help with money, I help through students, I help in many things that have been mentioned and a large part has not been mentioned. I will continue to do so. I see it as a personal duty that I fulfill without being in an official position.
The Arab world in general was moving towards peace and I am talking about the Abraham Accord. Saudi Arabia was about to sign that agreement. Does that mean that the area is more or less prone to peace now with what we have seen?
I believe that if Israel makes peace with the whole world and if it does not make peace with the Palestinian people, it will not have security, it will not get it, it will not achieve stability, it will not get it. They do not see the Palestinians giving in to their will. Instead, we enter a continuous cycle of endless aggression.
When Golda Meir used to say that their elders die and their children forget, our elders have died and our children have become more loving than us and more committed to their rights than us. I can tell [Israel] nothing will come out of this. The next generation will be ten times more committed to national rights, stronger and stronger willed, because this generation has seen the bombing with their own eyes. It would be better not to push them to the revenge that Israel has in mind. It would be better if Europe and America put the hope of independence back, otherwise Israel’s future will be black.
When we see protests exploding around the world, many Jews I talk to in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, are very concerned. They are worried that they will not be able to send their children to school and be sure that they will come home safely. Should they live in this kind of fear?
We are not against Jews. We, Palestinians, are not against the Jews. We also do not stand against some Israelis. What we stand against is the occupation of Israel and the mentality of the occupation of Israel alone.
Is the talk of a two-state solution a non-starter?
Israel does not want a one-state solution and it does not want a two-state solution. He only seeks to deepen and strengthen the role. That is not going to happen and we will oppose it. However, if the international community works without repeating the mistakes of the past and without starting endless negotiations for the next 30 years, maybe if a two-state solution offered to the Arab countries, the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, he might get a chance. . However, this is primarily the responsibility of America. America is the one who killed Palestinian children in these 40 days. It is his duty to offer a solution. The solution may be possible on the way. No further discussions are necessary. We have negotiated for 20 years regarding the borders, Jerusalem, refugees, water resources, and a demilitarized state. All the details are there and they only require political decisions.
So in your mind, the only people who can move this forward are the Americans?
We live in one state. The two-state solution lies in America’s hands, not Netanyahu’s or Israel’s. If the US administration has the political will as they had the political will to support Netanyahu in killing children, they can implement a two-state solution within a record time. I think that the Arab countries are more ready than they were 20 years ago to support this solution.
Who has the political will, the political belief, the political leverage to call time on this situation and make peace?
Only the United States, only the United States. The US, rather than the US administration, can change overnight from a country that supports crime and murder to a country that makes peace. United States only.