As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are moving forward towards implementing their “reconciliation” agreement, we are already getting an idea of what this new partnership is going to look like.
Abbas is trying to sell the agreement to the world as a deal that enables him and his Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to the Gaza Strip and assume full control there. He and his PA officials and spokesmen have also been working hard to convince the international community that only good will come out of the “reconciliation” agreement and that Hamas is even headed toward moderation and pragmatism.
However, Abbas and the PA seem to be engaged in yet another bid to deceive and lie to the international community.
Just last week, Israel foiled another plan by Hamas to dig a terror tunnel deep into Israeli territory.
Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri met with Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah Tuesday in Beirut, according to Hizballah’s Al Manar TV and reported by Ynet News.
The meeting comes after Israel destroyed an offensive tunnel originating in Gaza and stretching into Israeli territory, killing several senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members. Al-Arouri and Nasrallah discussed “the Zionist aggression against Gaza and its ramifications,” even though the tunnel was constructed to attack and abduct Israelis in a future confrontation.
The tunnel’s construction started after the 2014 war with Hamas ended, according to Israeli military officials speaking to the Jerusalem Post.
Such a high profile meeting signals a major rapprochement between the terrorist organizations, after ties were formally severed in 2011 when the groups took opposite positions in Syria’s civil war.
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Hamas modified its position on Israel after reconciling with the Palestinian Authority.
Almost immediately after agreeing to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas made clear its positions toward Israel have not changed. In a speech in Gaza, Yayha Sinwar, the leader of Hamas said, “Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel” (Elior Levy, “Hamas leader Sinwar: Hamas will never recognize Israel,” Ynet, October 19, 2017).
Hamas Deputy Political Chief Saleh el-Arouri traveled to Iran, and declared that Hamas will never agree to lay down arms, recognize the Zionist regime of Israel or sever its ties with the Islamic Republic (“Hamas Never to Recognize Israel: Official,” Tasnim News Agency, October 24, 2017).
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Despite vocal and self-righteous claims to the contrary, Palestinian leaders continue to incite their people and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world against Israel and Jews. For the past two and a half years, these leaders have been accusing Israel and Jews of seeking to turn the Israeli-Arab conflict into a religious one. The accusation refers specifically to visits by Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The truth, however, is just the opposite: it is the Palestinians that have been aiming at every turn to transform the political and territorial conflict into a religious one.
By turning the conflict into a religious one, the Palestinians are hoping to avoid any discussion about important issues such as security, borders, the status of Jerusalem, anti-Israel incitement and assaults on public freedoms under the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. Palestinian leaders do not feel comfortable discussing any of these issues; that is why they prefer to make the debate appear as if it is about religious issues.
Palestinian leaders are also hoping that the entire Islamic world will rally against Israel once they are told that Islamic holy sites are allegedly being targeted and desecrated by Jews.
The Palestinian Authority is toe-to-toe with Hamas in this unceasing incitement. The two rival Palestinian parties may disagree about almost everything, but when it comes to libeling Israel and Jews, they have no differences.
Jewish tours of the Temple Mount in the past two and a half years, contrary to Palestinian claims, have not affected the “status quo” or existing state of affairs at the holy site whatsoever. The Islamic holy sites, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, have not been “defiled” or “destroyed” as the result of the presence of Jews at the Temple Mount. More significantly, Muslims’ access to their holy sites on the Temple Mount remains unchanged. Every day, thousands of Muslim worshippers converge on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock to perform prayers. On Fridays, the number of Muslim worshippers is sometimes estimated at tens of thousands.
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Palestinian reconciliation is a step toward peace.
The announcement that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority has signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas to bring the Gaza Strip under the PA’s control is more likely to hamper efforts to achieve peace than to enhance them. Based on history, it is also uncertain whether the reconciliation will last as prior deals collapsed before they were implemented.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has wanted to resume responsibility for Gaza ever since Hamas seized power in what amounted to a coup in 2007. He did not have the power to do so, but a variety of factors made it possible for him to reach a deal with the help of the mediation of the Egyptian government.
Perhaps the most important variable has been the erosion of Hamas’s position in Gaza. Rather than hurt Israel, the group’s terror campaign only led to the worsening of the plight of Gazans. Israel’s military operations caused some suffering, but the inability of Hamas to govern and provide basic services has been more devastating to the public. Hamas won the last election because of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the group’s reputation for attending to the social welfare of the people. Ten years later, it has become apparent that Hamas is also corrupt – it siphons aid and resources for its fighters at the expense of the people – and unable to meet the basic needs of the people as unemployment has reached epidemic proportions and they literally cannot keep the lights on.
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In light of the recent national unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian officials of all stripes continue to announce their true objective: destroying Israel.
The official Palestinian mission to Colombia issued a tweet Thursday calling for Israel’s demise, citing a quote from former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
“Our goal is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations…. We don’t want peace. We want WAR and victory — Yasser Arafat,” read the Spanish-language tweet, according to the Times of Israel.
It was deleted after Israel’s Channel 1 television reported on it.
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Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) government is on its way back to managing civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, meanwhile, says it will remain in control of security and will not lay down its weapons or dismantle its security forces and militias.
Abbas’s new partnership with Hamas — the product of Egyptian mediation efforts between the two parties — means that from this moment on, the Palestinian Authority president should now be held responsible for everything that takes place inside the Gaza Strip.
Abbas and his PA government should now be held accountable, among other things, for the fate of two Israeli civilians and the remains of IDF soldiers being held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.
Abbas should also now be held responsible for any rockets that are fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. Abbas cannot have it both ways. He cannot use the new partnership with Hamas to project himself as the legitimate president of all Palestinians, including those living in the Gaza Strip, but at the same time argue that he does not have “control on the ground.” He cannot have his prime minister and government managing the day-to-day affairs of the Gaza Strip while at the same time claim that he cannot do anything about Hamas’s security forces and militia.
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