Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip Nov. 14, 2012. Photo by Darren Whiteside/REUTERS.
Thursday afternoon, Hamas representative Usamah Hamdan agreed to come on the NewsHour’s broadcast to be interviewed by correspondent Ray Suarez by phone. Hamdan, who was in Qatar at the time, cancelled the interview shortly before it was expected to happen. We were intending to run the interview in the broadcast following Suarez’s interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
During an off-camera conversation with the NewsHour earlier in the day, Hamdan blamed the Israel’s military offensive in Gaza on Israeli politics.
“I think the Israelis are trying to gain some votes in the upcoming election,” he said, referring to the Israeli Parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 2013. “They are trying to improve their chances with the voters.”
Hamdan also defended rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israeli population centers as the only possible response to the Israel’s technological advantage.
“I think when you are facing an occupation, an armed occupation with air support and the best weapons made in the U.S.A., what do you do? You must do the best you can.” He allowed that from a military standpoint, the Gazans’ “weapons will not be equal to what the Israelis have, but we must resist until we are liberated.”
Hamdan also said the lack of a peace process as a reason to continue rocket attacks into Israel. “There is no more peace process,” he said. “Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is considered an obstacle by Israel and Netanyahu is not interested…So what are we to do? We must liberate our own”
The Hamas official said that Israel is having difficulty negotiating a post-Arab Spring environment, especially with Islamist parties like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt winning electoral victories. “They are trying to change the terms in the region,” Hamdan said of the Israelis. But “they are making a big, big mistake. “
Watch the video or read the transcript of Ray Suarez’s interview Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren from Nov. 15 broadcast of NewsHour here.