Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has said he's not ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying that under Israeli occupation, Israel and a state of Palestine cannot coexist.
"When Israel practically commits itself to withdraw from Gaza completely and the West Bank without any settlements, and if we have Jerusalem as our capital and the return of the refugees is there, then we will reach peace," Meshaal said through a translator in an exclusive interview with Charlie Rose, which will appear in full on PBS.
He compared the Hamas-Israel conflict to the American Revolution.
"Was it peaceful? Did you not kick the British out? So the nations, if they have the peaceful window to reach peace then they will better. Because we don't like to kill our sons and daughters. But if you don't have the peace then the resistance is legitimate. So the world has two choices: they need to help us peacefully reach [statehood] or we will expel this occupation from our land."
Meshaal expressed his frustration with how the international community was responding to the conflict.
"Why do you call for security for Israel and why don't you call for lifting the siege and stopping the occupation on the Palestinians? Why don't you give the right to live for the Palestinians as the other nations? This is actually the last occupation in the world," said Meshaal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that the aim of his military's current offensive is to cripple Hamas, which he accuses of deliberately "sacrificing" Palestinians as human shields.
Netanyahu said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that Israel would continue attacking Hamas and destroying the elaborate network of tunnels built by the Palestinian militants to smuggle goods in and out of the country and to try and get fighters onto Israeli soil to launch attacks.
Meshaal said Hamas has the conviction necessary to expel the Israelis from the West Bank and Gaza by force.
"I have the will," he said, going on to explain what gives him and his fighters the will to become "martyrs" and die for their cause. "I cannot live under the occupation. Occupation is the worst thing that you can ever imagine. So every single Palestinians can die for the next generations to live in peace and freedom."
But some question why Meshaal is not in Gaza, if in fact he is the voice of Hamas. Meshsaal, who lives in Doha, Qatar, said he was expelled.
"It is natural for me to be there but occupation doesn't allow me to do so," he said. "You have hundreds thousands of Palestinians in America, and they long to go back to Palestine. Although they are American citizens, Palestinians long for their home country. That's why we insist on the return of the refugees for me and others to return."
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