I am writing a separate piece about dealing with Hamas, and hope to be published before the 8th of August. Meanwhile, this is a fascinating article. I wish Obama had the same guts as Clinton, Bush did not have any to get these two men - Netanyahu and Mashaal to listen to each other, they are the problem and not Iraelis or Palestinians, Jews or Muslim, Judaism or Islam. Let's not get wired up with other stuff and just stay focused on these two men.
The Man who haunts Israel - Khaled Mashaal
Courtesy Time Magazine - http://time.com/khaled-mashaal/
Khaled Mashaal was nearly assassinated by Benjamin Netanyahu. Then Israel’s Prime Minister was forced to bring the Hamas leader back to life. Now their deadly history hangs over the conflict that roils the Middle East
By Michael Crowley | July 29, 2014
Photograph by Kate Geraghty—The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media/Getty Images
The agents would likely face execution if convicted. Desperate to avert an international crisis that would derail his efforts to broker peace deals between Israel and its Arab enemies, President Bill Clinton intervened, insisting that Netanyahu, then serving the first of his two tenures as Israel’s prime minister, provide the antidote. The Israeli leader grudgingly complied, even traveling to Amman to issue a personal apology to the King. Mashaal was revived, his stature forever enhanced as “the living martyr.” Instead of killing one of Israel’s most despised enemies, Netanyahu had resurrected him.
Fifteen years later, in December 2012, Mashaal, in his trademark western suit and trim salt-and-pepper beard, stepped out of a giant replica of an M75 rocket in the heart of Gaza City to address a crowd of cheering Palestinians. “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take,” he thundered, as the green missile — among the models Hamas is currently firing into Israel by the thousands — towered several stories over his head. “We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”
‘We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.’Today, Khaled Mashaal and Benjamin Netanyahu are again adversaries in an international crisis, as Israel wages war with Hamas in what might be its bloodiest fight yet against the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. In the 58-year-old Palestinian, who is now Hamas’s political leader and most visible spokesman, granting interviews to the likes of Charlie Rose and the BBC, Netanyahu faces an enemy who has only grown in stature since their existential encounter. Although he does not rule Hamas by fiat, Mashaal “is one of the most influential figures in Palestinian politics,” says Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. Thrall says Mashaal is even a plausible candidate to lead the larger Palestinian national movement once the presidency of moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is 79, has ended. oth Israel and the United States consider Mashaal a terrorist, linked to multiple deadly suicide bombings and thousands of rocket attacks against Israel. (Netanyahu ordered his assassination after one particularly awful explosion in a Jerusalem market killed 16 and injured 169.) Whether he is an incurable fanatic or a pragmatist capable of moderation is a subject of debate within Israel and beyond. In public remarks since the start of this month’s fighting, Mashaal has rejected any cease-fire that does not bring a fundamental change in Israel’s position towards Hamas and Gaza. “We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade,” Mashaal said in Qatar on July 24. But some analysts believe that Mashaal, who lives in exile in the Qatari capital of Doha — where he has met with Qatari and Turkish diplomats working with Secretary of State John Kerry for a ceasefire — is more willing to strike a deal than leaders of Hamas’s military branch. “The political wing seemed ready to stop this earlier, including Mashaal. The military wing has not been, and is calling the shots,” says Dennis Ross, a longtime U.S. Middle East peace negotiator now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Some analysts say that such ridicule may resonate with Palestinians. Mashaal has spent virtually no time in Israeli-occupied areas since his family fled the West Bank, where he was born, during the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Mashaal first moved to Kuwait, where he joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 15, then earned a physics degree and worked as a teacher. He later moved to Jordan, where he led Hamas’s powerful branch in the country, then to Syria and, in January 2012, fled that country’s civil war for Qatar, whose government funds and supports Hamas.
The Israelis had hoped that their lethal dose of modified fentanyl would send Mashaal into a nap from which he would never awakeOnly when he developed a severe headache and began to vomit later that day did Mashaal understand that the attack did, in fact, pose a threat to his life. Clinton mediated the ensuing diplomatic crisis in a furious effort to salvage a major peace agreement between Jordan and Israel that would be inked only weeks later. Netanyahu ultimately provided the antidote formula to Jordanian doctors, who would not trust any chemical supplied directly by the Israelis. He also apologized in person to the brother of the King, who refused to see him. Mashaal emerged a hero. He would assume Hamas’s top political post seven years later, in 2004, after the Israelis — this time dispensing with cloak-and-dagger technique — killed his predecessor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, by firing missiles at his car from helicopter gunship. (Al-Rantisi, as fate would have it, was released from an Israeli prison in the 1997 deal to save Mashaal’s life.) “A lot of people have underestimated [Mashaal], but he has proved very adept despite extraordinary challenges,” says University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami, including “his distance from Gaza and its leadership.” Reliable polling among Palestinians is scarce, but the wild cheers that greeted Mashaal as he stepped from the model rocket in Gaza speak to his popularity.
Netanyahu might describe that as a nightmare, though other Westerners are more hopeful. Underlying Mashaal’s public calls for the destruction of Israel are more nuanced positions. He has distanced himself somewhat from Hamas’s charter, filled with bigoted language about “World Zionism” and “warmongering Jews.” And he has offered a hudna, or long-term truce with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 borders and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Netanyahu may yet attempt to complete his unfinished business. Killing Mashaal in Qatar would create another dangerous diplomatic crisis. But Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, believes it should be done anyway, according to a July 21 report by Israel’s Channel 2. And Mossad agents drugged and suffocated the leader of Hamas’s military wing in a Dubai hotel in March 2010 (an incident famous for security camera footage that captured much of the operation).
A few years ago, an Al-Jazeera reporter asked former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, who oversaw the bungled Mashaal attack, whether Israel might try again to kill the Hamas leader. “The terrorist,” Yatom answered, “must understand that anyone who executes terror will not enjoy immunity.”