'Combatants For Peace' Palestinians call for Hamas to make peace

By Leon Symons, July 30, 2010

Two Palestinians have called for Hamas to end
its attacks against Israel and make

Mahmoud Hamdan told an audience in London: “I want to convey a
message to Hamas: stop the violence and stop the blame cycle. We want to live in

His colleague Malaka Samara said: “During the
second intifada, they said 'we are an Islamic group ' and that 
Islam was the representative religion of Palestine. I don’t think
this is right. I don’t trust them.

“I don’t want them to be the main political
party in Palestine to lead the Palestinians to a big
tragedy, not to have peace and not to have conciliation on the other side. They
are wrong and they don’t represent Islam as a

The two were part of a group of Israelis and
Palestinians from Combatants For Peace (CFP) who have been brought on a tour
of  the
UK  by Amnesty International and
Encounter. They were speaking at the Frontline Club in Paddington, alongside
Israelis Idan Meir and Neta Osnat.

CFP was formed by Israelis who served in the
Israel Defence Force and some of their former Palestinian adversaries in an
effort to break the cycle of violence and build better understanding between the
two peoples.

A packed audience of 100 people heard the
four give short accounts of how they became involved in CFP and their dedication
to try to achieve peace,  not necessarily for them but for their

A  member of the audience  asked
if  the Palestinian pair would challenge Hamas about violence,
as they had done with Israel.

Malaka Samara said she had voted for Hamas
when she was at university but had never met any of its

“Yes, of course I am ready to challenge
anyone from Hamas,” she replied. “I have read a lot of books about my religion.
This is not a religious conflict and we need to understand that ourselves. I
voted for them because I thought they were different from normal

Then she went on to condemn their stance on

A question was asked about boycott,
divestment and sanctions. Idan Meir was unequivocal: “Personally, I don’t
believe in any boycotts.” But he added that the entire boycott  issue was “complicated. Boycotting Germany
made it the monster it became in the 30s. Boycotting Iran will make it much worse and that’s why
boycotting Israel is not the solution,” he

However, he was in favour of boycotting
all produce that came from West Bank
settlements, as were his fellow panellists.    

Last updated: 9:40am, July 30 2010