It was Sunday morning at 2.00am Melbourne time and Palestinian Legislator Hanan Ashrawi was being interviewed by Rosemary Church on CNN about the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Ashrawi, as usual, was in automatic pilot playing the blame game and droning on about the occupation, the cycle of violence and excusing the rocket attacks on innocent Israeli civilians that preceded the strike.
Then this question was asked:
Rosemary Church: If Israel was not complying with the terms of the ceasefire, is the firing of rockets the way for Hamas to deal with that? Can they not use alternative channels?
Hanan Ashrawi: Well they certainly tried many different ways. I think the Palestine Authority has been trying through negotiation, through peaceful means but this has produced nothing. And at the same time even though many Palestinians including myself do not condone the use of rocket fire or violence sort of hold the victim accountable while the occupying power is constantly above the law and is not accountable.
Now, Ashrawi was there as a mouthpiece for the Palestinians but certainly not for Hamas. However, she deftly attempted to sidestep the question she was being asked i.e. whether Hamas could use alternative channels to the use of Qassams and answered an entirely different question telling the interviewer what the PA has done and by saying that negotiation had produced nothing forgetting the very real concessions the PA gained from Israel since the Oslo Agreement in 1993 (which Ashrawi incidentally, opposed).
Then she continued in a manner that distinctly sounded like excusing Hamas for violating international humanitarian law. As Bradley Burston points out today in Haaretz (Wartime in Gaza: The worst anti-Israel charges you'll hear):
"The Human Rights Watch organization has been unequivocal in condemning the use of Qassam rockets as a direct violation of international humanitarian law and the laws of war. The firing of Qassams and mortars against civilian populations also constitutes collective punishment against hundreds of thousands of innocent Israeli men, women and children."
This is Hanan Ashrawi who five years ago and among great controversy was awarded the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize. Her failure to condemn criminal acts of war by Hamas and indeed to attempt to explain or to excuse them is reprehensible and yet another reason why she is not a fit person to hold any worthwhile peace prize other than a Mickey Mouse (make that Farfur) Peace Prize.