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Hamas leader tells Amanpour his group wasn’t behind bombing

November 21st, 2012
12:32 PM ET
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Hamas's political chief on ceasefire

PART 1: Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Khaled Meshaal, head of the political wing of Hamas.

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Hamas's political chief on ceasefire

PART 2: Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Khaled Meshaal, head of the political wing of Hamas.

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Hamas chief on attempted assassination

PART 3: The head of the political wing of Hamas tells Christiane Amanpour about the attempted assassination on his life.

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - The political leader of Hamas says his group was not behind Wednesday's bus bombing in Tel Aviv. But Khaled Meshaal did say he believed the bombing was a response to the violence in Gaza.

A cease-fire, announced Wednesday night in a joint news conference in Cairo, Egypt, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, took effect at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Cairo, Meshaal - whose group is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States - spoke about the bus attack, which injured more than 20 people, and he detailed Hamas' mindset on the situation overall.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Amanpour: There has been a terrible attack inside Israel today, in Tel Aviv. The first of these kinds of attacks in six years. A bomb on a bus, and there have been many casualties. Does Hamas claim responsibility? Did Hamas do that?

Meshaal: This question must be addressed to (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.

Amanpour: No, no, I'm asking you. Did Hamas claim responsibility? Did Hamas do that?

Meshaal: Not Hamas, not others, not other people from, not Hamas. No one can announce except those who committed, not me. The lesson is what matters. What led to this? Who created the circumstances that led to this operation? It is Netanyahu with his crimes, in killing the kids of Gaza, and the continuity of aggression. He create(d) such ramifications everywhere. This could lead to any kind of reaction as retaliation for what happened in Gaza.

In the spirited interview, with Meshaal often raising his voice passionately, Amanpour asked Meshaal about whether he would accept a two-state solution that envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel.

"And yet you say that you would accept a two-state solution but you won't recognize Israel's right to exist," Amanpour said.

Meshaal repeatedly said that the "Palestinians are offering peace" and blamed the United States and Israel for working toward situations that are not peaceful.

"How can I accept Israel? They have occupied my land," Meshaal said.

Amanpour asked him directly if Hamas is getting weapons from Iran.

Hamas is a "resistance" against "occupation," he said and it seeks financial, military and other forms of support from Iran from any state that wishes to support Hamas.

The group gets helps from Europe and from Iran, wherever it can get it, he said.

"So the answer is yes," to whether Iran helps Hamas, Amanpour challenged.

"I answered you," Meshaal replied.

Amanpour asked him to explain Hamas' end game.

"The end game is to end occupation," he said, and "peace throughout the region."

Cease-fire reached in Israel-Hamas conflict

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Israel • Palestinian territories