Palestinian ambassador: ‘Hamas is not like ISIS,’ Israeli occupation may incite ‘more of this kind of violence’

The current cease-fire between Palestinian militants and Israel began on Aug. 26, but both sides are still battling over the causes and tactics of this summer’s Gaza conflict – and what the next steps will be.

“Israelis cannot continue to control the Palestinians, subjugate them to human rights violations, international law violations, and at the same time expect the Palestinians to sit idly by and not do anything about that situation,” U.S. Ambassador Maen Areikat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

He suggested negotiations will need to address political tensions, including the Israeli military’s occupation and blockade operations in Gaza. He acknowledged that U.N.-brokered talks about rebuilding the conflict zone have also included a discussion of how much longer the Israeli occupation will last, and expressed a “live and let live” formula for peace.

Areikat also responded to Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Ron Dermer, who compared Hamas to ISIS during his interview with Ramos earlier this month. Hamas joined a Palestinian unity government in June before the latest fighting began. Areikat called the comparison between the two groups “absurd.”

“It’s interesting to hear that from the representative of a state that just a month ago ended a brutal campaign in Gaza that killed 2,200 people, more than half of them our civilians, including children,” Areikat said.

Dermer had told Ramos casualties in Gaza were largely due to human shields set up by Hamas forces.

“If we wanted to attack civilians, you wouldn’t see 2,000 dead in Gaza – you would see a number 10 or 100 times that,” Dermer said. “No military has taken greater care to get civilians out of harm’s way.”

Areikat said Dermer’s ISIS comparison showed a deep misunderstanding of the Palestinian people and their own commitment to a more peaceful world.

“Our religion, our societies advocate a coexistence with other people, with other religions,” Areikat said. “And we should all work together to make sure that these forces do not succeed.”

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