|Mash'al, an implacable enemy of the Jewish state whom Israel attempted to assassinate in 1997, said the dream of returning millions of Arab refugees to Israel is coming closer to reality as the final battle with Zionism approaches.
The real power behind the Hamas, Mash'al is a former resident of Gaza. Israel has barred Mash'al from reentering the country, and assuming any role in the new Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority.
Speaking at a gathering marking 40 days since the death of the head of the Palestinian National Council, Khaled Alfahom, Mash'al emphasized the importance of the "Palestinian spirit" in winning the historic battle against Zionism.
The following are excerpts from his speech:
"Ben Gurion [Israel's founder and first prime minister] hoped that subsequent generations of Palestinians will forget [their defeat in the 1948 Independence war, commonly referred to by Arabs as] the catastrophe."
"Today's followers of Ben Gurion know that they have to contend with a [Palestinian] generation that's stronger than its predecessors. They will see future generations of Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic nation waving the banner [of Islam]."
"The liberation [of Palestine] will come with the help of Allah, until it is attained by the last soldier, woman, and child, despite resistance by Israel and the United States….Jerusalem will become Arab and Muslim again, including all the places holy to Islam and Christianity."
"Today, we are close to attaining Palestinian national rights…When a [Palestinian] child says that his grandfather or father was born in Nazareth, Haifa, or Jaffa, there's powerful human force in that. Can any power on earth erase this memory? How can Nazareth, Haifa, Beersheva, Jaffa, and Akko be erased from the Palestinian memory? Therefore, one who says that Palestinian rights will die out, or that the Palestinians will relinquish or sell [their rights and values] is living an illusion."
"We and the Zionists have been brought together by destiny. If they want a fight, we'll be there; if they want a war we're ready; if they want a conflict we'll be there however long it takes.
"We have more determination that Israel…We'll defeat it, with the help of Allah, and we'll liberate the land."