Archive for the ‘Abbas’ category

Holding the PLO Accountable

November 21, 2017

Holding the PLO Accountable, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, November 21, 2017

(I have mixed feelings about Secretary of State Tillerson: bad and terrible. He appears to believe that he, not Trump, is the American president. Forget the moribund “peace process,” move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and do it now. Please see also The terrorist had reason to smile as he rammed people. — DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

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Is the PLO’s long vacation from accountability coming to an end? How about the State Department’s? In 1987 the US State Department placed the PLO on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The PLO was removed from the list in 1994, following the initiation of its peace process with Israel in 1993.

As part of the Clinton administration’s efforts to conclude a long-term peace deal between the PLO and Israel, in 1994 then president Bill Clinton signed an executive order waiving enforcement of laws that barred the PLO and its front groups from operating in the US. His move enabled the PLO to open a mission in Washington.

Whereas Obama’s PLO upgrade was legally dubious, the PLO’s campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.

The operation of the PLO’s missions in the US was contingent on periodic certification by the secretary of state that the PLO was not engaged in terrorism, including incitement of terrorism, was not encouraging the boycott of Israel and was not seeking to bypass its bilateral negotiations with Israel in order to achieve either diplomatic recognition or statehood. Under Obama, the State Department refused to acknowledge the PLO’s breach of all the conditions of US recognition.

Angry at the administration’s facilitation of PLO breaches, in 2015 Congress mandated stricter and more precise conditions for continued operation of the PLO’s mission in Washington. Starting in 2016, the PLO was explicitly banned from advocating the prosecution of Israelis by the International Criminal Court. In 2015 the PLO joined the ICC with the explicit purpose of advocating the prosecution of Israelis. And in conformance with this purpose, in his speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2017, PLO/PA chief Mahmoud Abbas called for the ICC to prosecute Israelis for building communities in Judea and Samaria.

Given his experience with US administrations since Clinton, Abbas had every reason to believe that he would suffer no repercussions for his statement. No US administration had ever called the PLO/PA to account for its open breach of the terms of US recognition. So it isn’t surprising that Abbas and his advisers were utterly shocked when on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the PLO mission in Washington informing PLO envoy Husam Zomlot that he could not renew certification of PLO compliance with US law in light of Abbas’s statement in September.

The only way for the mission to remain in place is if President Donald Trump certifies within 90 days that the PLO is engaged in “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

One of the primary functions of the PLO mission in Washington is to promote and fund the boycott movement against Israel – in contravention of the terms of its operation and the terms of its agreements with Israel.

In written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa in February, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed that the mission is “said to be actively promoting campus BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] activity in the US.”

“PLO operatives in Washington, DC,” Schanzer said, “are reportedly involved in coordinating the activities of Palestinian students in the US who receive funds from the PLO to engage in BDS activism. This, of course, suggests that the BDS movement is not a grassroots activist movement, but rather one that is heavily influenced by PLO-sponsored persons.”

In April 2016, Schanzer informed Congress that the PLO consulate in Chicago is a major funder of the BDS campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. The chairman of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, which among other things funds BDS, is Ghassan Barakat, an official at the PLO’s Chicago consulate. His colleague, Senan Shaqdeh, is a member of the coalition. Shaqdeh also claims to be the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, the antisemitic BDS group that operates on campuses throughout the US.

As Schanzer noted, in 2014 Shaqdeh traveled to Ramallah to meet with Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

The US consulate in Jerusalem has the same status as an embassy. Like the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, the US consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department. He is not accredited to Israel. His area of operations includes Jerusalem and its environs within and beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including Beit Shemesh, Mevasseret Zion, Judea and Samaria.

Israeli citizens who live within the consulate’s area of operations are not permitted to receive consular and visa services from the embassy in Tel Aviv. Among the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews that are required to receive US consular services from the consulate rather than the embassy are tens of thousands of Jewish dual nationals.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Consul General Donald Blome similarly directs all of his efforts toward reaching out to the Palestinians, ignoring as a regular practice the millions of Jews who live in his area of responsibility.

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

Tillerson’s letter to the PLO mission on Friday came two weeks before Trump will have to decide whether or not to sign a related waiver. On December 1, Trump will either allow the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act to come into force or he will sign a waiver postponing the embassy move for yet another six months.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

November 13, 2017

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan? Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, November 13, 2017

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

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No American or European on the face of this earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there.

It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia’s effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration’s “peace plan.” Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi “ultimatum.”

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. Pictured: Abbas on a previous visit to Saudi Arabia, on February 23, 2015, meeting with Saudi King Salman. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

If true, the Saudi “ultimatum” to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American “peace plan” that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the “right of return” for millions of “refugees” to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel.

And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple.

So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a “peace plan” that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas’s point of view.

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’

November 12, 2017

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’, BreitbartDeborah Danan, November 12, 2017

AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

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TEL AVIV – Palestinian martyrs will not stop fighting for Palestine until it is completely purged of the Jews, a senior religious adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared at a recent conference held in India.

Other Arab diplomats – including Syria’s Ambassador to India – accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians and said Hitler’s motive for killing Jews was thus understandable.

The aim of the October 29 conference, which took place in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, was to express solidarity between Indians and Palestinians, MEMRI reported. In addition to Palestinian officials, the day-long conference was attended by delegates and ambassadors from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, among others.

Chief Sharia Justice and religious affairs adviser to Abbas, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, made a speech in which he declared, “Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine.”

“Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land … is purified of the impious existence of Jews,” he said.

“Yasser Arafat, Amin Al-Hussein, and many martyrs like them fought for the freedom of Palestine till the last breath of their lives,” he added.

Habbash continued by slamming Britain for its role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

“Britain is responsible for Israel’s occupation supremacy on Palestinian land,” he said. “This year, on November 2, 2017, the British government is celebrating 100 years of the Balfour Declaration. The world of humanity should condemn this.”

Habbash extolled the United Nations for giving “Palestine” full status.

He also said Israel was “stunned by the Intifada movement of Palestinian youths.”

“It cannot bear the stones of Palestinian youths. Allah will help Palestinians, will deliver them justice,” he added.

Syrian Ambassador Riad Kamil Abbas also addressed the conference, saying that the fight against Bashar Assad’s regime was also a fight “against Palestine.”

“Syria considers the Palestinian problem its own problem, and that of the Arab world. Those who have conspired against Palestinians are the same people who are active against Syria,” he said.

He added that Israel’s “atrocities” towards the Palestinians were “a crime against humanity, genocide.”

Abbas added that the Islamic State terror group was created by the West.

Iraqi Ambassador Fakhri Hassan Al-Issa told the conference: “Iraq has always been a supporter of the Palestinian cause and has been supporting international efforts against Israel’s cruel occupation to succeed.”

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

The conference organizers – part of an NGO called the Indo-Arab League – offered free land for a Palestinian consulate in the city. According to Indo-Arab League Chairman Syed Vicaruddin, the consulate will help strengthen “relations between India and Palestine and facilitate Muslims wanting to visit Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” Vicaruddin also announced a cultural hall to be established “in memory of Palestinian martyrs.”

In Article On Occasion Of Balfour Declaration Centenary, Palestinian Authority President ‘Abbas Says Any Final Resolution Of Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Must Include Implementation Of UN Resolution 194 ‘To Restore Palestine Refugees To Their Homes’

November 8, 2017

In Article On Occasion Of Balfour Declaration Centenary, Palestinian Authority President ‘Abbas Says Any Final Resolution Of Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Must Include Implementation Of UN Resolution 194 ‘To Restore Palestine Refugees To Their Homes’, MEMRI, November 8, 2017

In an English article published November 2, 2017 in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs,[1] Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud ‘Abbas set out the PLO’s credo and vision for peace, and called on Britain to apologize for the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. He said that this declaration, anchored in “white supremacist” views, “disregarded the wishes, aspirations, and the very rights of the indigenous population of Palestine” and ultimately led to the catastrophe and exodus of the Palestinian people in 1948. He also stated that, after supporting the Zionist movement in establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, Britain and the international community failed to implement the UN Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan of 1947), and later also “failed to implement Resolution 194 (III) to restore Palestine refugees to their homes.” Stressing that any final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict must include the realization of Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative, namely “a just solution for the seven million Palestinian refugees based on the choice of every refugee,” he urged Britain and the international community to make amends for the Balfour declaration by “recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital,” and by taking steps to realize the political rights of the Palestinian people, the very rights that were denied by Balfour a century ago.”

The following is the article:[2]

PA President Mahmoud ‘Abbas (image: thecairoreview.com, Nov 2, 2017)

“This year, our nation marks one hundred years of the Balfour Declaration. Lord Arthur Balfour was a British foreign secretary who decided to change the identity and fate of Palestine, a land that he did not own, by promising it to the Zionist movement, and dramatically altering the history of the Palestinian people. On this somber anniversary, it is important to recall some key historic facts, which remain relevant toward achieving a just, lasting, and peaceful resolution to a century of injustice.

“To this day, the United Kingdom evades its historic responsibility by refusing to apologize to a nation still living in exile and under occupation as the result of their politicians’ unethical undertaking. In 1917, Palestine had a robust population of over 700,000 inhabitants living on almost 28,000 square kilometers. Palestine had a well-established society, proud of its history and cultural heritage, and the centuries-long tradition of coexistence and tolerance among its inhabitants. The city of Jerusalem—built by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe—the ancient ports of Jaffa and Haifa, the biblical cities of Gaza, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Hebron and Nablus, as well as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Jericho, alongside the Dead Sea and the fertile Jordan Valley, all stood witness to this rich civilization. Palestinehad several educational and cultural institutions, newspapers, and an economy that included the export of citrus and a thriving service industry such as tourism. It was a country inhabited mainly by Arabs, mostly Muslims and Christians, but also with a small Jewish minority.

“Disgracefully, the text of the Balfour Declaration referred to the vast majority of the population as the ‘non-Jewish communities,’ in a deliberate attempt at setting the foundation and basis of denying them any future political rights. Balfour was fully entrenched in colonial ideology with no respect for the deeply-rooted presence of Palestinians, Christians, and Muslims. In 1922, he wrote: ‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs and future hopes of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.’ It was a glaring dismissal of the presence, history, and rights of the population that had inhabited the land for centuries. Examined against the backdrop of the current debates in international politics, Balfour could have easily been referred to as a ‘white supremacist.’

“The Balfour Declaration of 1917 symbolizes the international role in the Palestinian catastrophe and exodus, the Nakba of 1948. A century after this infamous declaration was drafted, it is long overdue for the international community to assume its legal, political, and moral responsibility to fulfill the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This prolonged injustice continues to test the credibility of our international system and to undermine the laws and human rights frameworks that are fundamental to its longevity and to peace and stability within and among nations.

“Balfour’s Bitter Legacy

“The Balfour Declaration, despite its great impact on our destiny as a nation, was never a matter of consensus among British politicians. The declaration continued with a British Mandate of Palestine that soon proved to be entrapped between Lord Balfour’s folly and the reality on the ground. In the following years, British colonial rule grappled with the contradictions of its promises to the Jewish and Arab peoples. Several British commissions wrote back to London in efforts to make their government realize and understand that there was already a well-rooted people in Palestine. In 1922, the British Parliament rejected the British Mandate of Palestine precisely because it included the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration as part of its goals. In fact, it was the only Jewish member of the British Cabinet, Sir Edwin Montagu, who expressed his rejection in these strong terms: ‘I would not deny the Jews in Palestine equal rights to colonization with those who profess other religions, but a religious test of citizenship seems to me to be the only admitted by those who take a bigoted and narrow view of one particular epoch of the history of Palestine, and claim for the Jews a position to which they are not entitled.’

“Balfour’s perfidy anticipated the international community’s disrespect for the rights of Palestinians after Israel’s founding. Thirty years later, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 181 (II) calling for the partition of Palestine into two states. Again, this decision disregarded the wishes, aspirations, and the very rights of the indigenous population of Palestine. The Palestinian leaders spared no effort in communicating the voice of the people, visiting London countless times, as well as several other world capitals, asking for the rights of the Arab-Palestinian people to be respected and calling for the fate of Palestine to be decided through democratic free elections that would reflect the will of the Palestinian people. This was totally ignored by the British government, guided by the Balfour agenda of denying our nation political rights.

“The world voted for the partition of Palestine, but its people did not. The international community was willing to support the Zionist desire to build a state in Palestine, but did not have the determination to supervise the implementation of their resolutions, leading to the Nakba (catastrophe), which led to over two-thirds of the Palestinian people becoming refugees, including myself. My hometown of Safad was totally ethnically cleansed of its Arab Muslim and Christian populations. Just like Safad, at least 418 Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed, forcibly depopulated, and destroyed.

“The international community failed to fulfill the implementation of the UN Partition Resolution 181, a resolution that unquestionably did not allow or call for the forcible displacement of the Palestinian population. It also failed to implement Resolution 194 (III) to restore Palestine refugees to their homes. In fact, the United Nations’ recognition of Israel was conditioned on Israel’s implementation of this resolution. Similarly, disappointingly, the international community has failed to implement the countless UN resolutions that call on Israel to end its military occupation that began in 1967, including its colonial-settlement project. This failure has emboldened Israeli impunity, prolonging the conflict and the suffering and injustice being borne by the Palestinian people.

“From Balfour to 2017: One Hundred Years of Impunity

“The Israeli occupation that began in 1967—occupying the remaining 22 percent of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem—initiated a systematic, multidimensional policy of colonization of occupied territory that has not ceased for over five decades, seriously impairing the prospects for a political solution. Even though the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in a historic and painful compromise, recognized Israel in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and declared the State of Palestine only over 22 percent of historic Palestine, Israel continues to deny the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to freedom and self-determination.

“The presence of illegal settlements all over the occupied territory of Palestine has threatened to make the two-state solution impossible to realize. This is clearly the goal of the current rightwing Israeli government that does not shy away from hiding such intentions. It has become widely acknowledged that Israel’s prolonged occupation and its colonial-settlement project has virtually destroyed the prospects of the internationally endorsed two-state solution on the 1967 borders, thereby solidifying the reality of one state, Israel, controlling all the land of historic Palestine, while imposing two different systems: one for Israeli-Jews and another for Palestinians.

“As far back as 1993, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and agreed to participate in several rounds of negotiations in the Middle East peace process aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement. After more than twenty years of negotiations, it is clear that the Israeli government is not interested in peace. For Palestine, the peace process is a means for the implementation of international law and realization of justice; the process is not an end in itself, but the Israeli government has constantly used it as such and exploited the ‘negotiations’ as a smokescreen for further colonization of the Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, aimed at entrenching its control of the entire territory.

“The internationally endorsed two-state solution is not accepted by any of the political parties that compose today’s Israeli government coalitions. Their leaders continue to incite and spew hate speech against the Palestinian people and inflammatory rhetoric against Palestinian national rights and aspirations. This has included the dangerous use of religion to justify war crimes and human rights violations, which is something that we believe is of paramount gravity and consequence to regional and international peace and security, and have thus consistently warned against Israeli attempts to turn a solvable political, territorial conflict into a religious war.

“Just as Likud, the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirmed its political program that negates any possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state, on the ground Israeli settlers and occupation forces continue to act with hatred and aggression toward the Palestinian people, further diminishing the prospect of peaceful coexistence. Attacks continue against Palestinian civilians and properties, in Christian and Muslim holy sites, and homes continue to be demolished, forcibly displacing our people to pave the way for more colonial-settlement expansion.

“The one-state reality imposed by the Israeli government could not be possible without the impunity it has received from the international community. The Israeli colonial-settlement enterprise in Occupied Palestine could not succeed without international markets being opened to illegal Israeli settlement products, without free trade agreements welcoming these products, without international companies and the Israeli economy mutually profiting from this systematic denial of Palestinian rights, and without the commitments of several governments that no matter the violations and crimes, Israel will continue to enjoy full impunity.

“Make no mistake: Palestinians have learned the lessons from Balfour’s colonialism. We recently witnessed the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in Occupied East Jerusalem in the rejection of Israeli attempts to change the historic status quo of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.  This beautiful demonstration of popular nonviolent resistance echoed in every corner of the world. Just as our youth and elders, women and men, Christians and Muslims, and members of all political factions came together to defend Jerusalem, we cannot but remember those who opposed British policies in the remarkable national strike of 1936, or the Israeli occupation in the First Intifada in 1987. Palestinians have showed the world and many Israelis that the colonial ‘fantasy’ of talking about peace and coexistence while systematically denying the rights of a people under an oppressive military occupation can never succeed and that the right of a people to self-determination and freedom can neither be crushed, nor dismissed, nor negated.

“Our Vision for a Just and Lasting Peace

“The steadfastness and resilience of our people should serve as a message to the entire world, and particularly to Israel, that there will be no peace in our region without the fulfillment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Our vision of peace is one of great compromise and is based simply on what we are entitled to under international law and UN resolutions: a sovereign and independent state that fully ends the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, while ensuring at the same time that Jerusalem could be an open city between its eastern and western parts. We envision our sovereign control over our natural resources, airspace and maritime borders. We envision and will continue to demand the freedom of all our political prisoners, victims of the Israeli occupation and the systematic negation of our national rights. With almost one million prisoners since 1967, the case of our political prisoners painfully reflects the overall situation of our whole nation. We also reiterate that in order to end claims with Israel, there must be a just solution for the seven million Palestinian refugees based on the choice of every refugee. Our nation, the largest refugee group in the world and most protracted refugee plight in contemporary history, has the right to the respect and fulfillment of its rights, including through the implementation of UNGA Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative.

“A  just and lasting peace is possible. It requires the full implementation of the long overdue inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. We envision a new reality where our families are no longer divided by racist laws, such as the Israeli citizenship law; where our young talents will not be forced to leave their country because of a suffocated economy and lack of opportunities. We envision a state that can welcome the innovation and talents developed by our successful diaspora, wherever they have migrated to, whether the United States, Latin America, Europe, Australia, or the Arab World, becoming successful in various fields and positive contributors to their respective communities. We envision a reality of peace where those millions of people, successful doctors, engineers, bankers, sportsmen, artists, clergymen, teachers, students, workers, politicians, and social activists will finally be able to make Palestine their home.

“Recognize Palestinian Rights—With an Apology

“That the Balfour Declaration ever happened is a reminder that Palestinians must have their voices heard and respected within the international community. An important step undertaken for redress in that regard has been the pursuit of international recognition of the State of Palestine, including our new status of ‘non-member state’ at the United Nations, achieved on November 29, 2012. This status has enabled us to  accede to numerous international treaties and conventions and to join several international organizations. These stand at fifty-five as of now, ranging from the Geneva Conventions to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“After decades of Israeli control over our lives, it is important not to fall into desperation and to keep hope alive. We will continue to build on our achievements of state-recognition and accede to international treaties, including our right to seek justice for the Palestinian people at the ICC in the face of this ongoing criminal occupation. This too is a confirmation of our respect for international law and readiness to uphold our obligations and responsibilities in that regard. Concurrently, we will continue our endeavors to achieve a just and lasting peace with Israel on the 1967 border. It is our right to use all diplomatic, political, and legal avenues to protect our nation, achieve justice, and fulfill our long overdue inalienable rights.

“This process must go hand-in-hand with efforts to secure more bilateral recognitions for the State of Palestine. There is no justification not to recognize the State of Palestine. How would recognizing Palestine harm the chances of peace? How would it harm negotiations? Our right to self-determination has been never up for negotiation; the International Court of Justice, in its landmark Advisory Opinion in 2004, explicitly affirmed this to be a right erga omnes, meaning ‘valid for all.’ It is therefore an international responsibility to stand tall for the fulfillment of our right, not a call to dismiss or shy away from. Thus we will continue calling upon those who allegedly support the two-state solution to recognize two states, not only one.

“At the same time, we shall keep the doors open for the possibility of a resumption of negotiations seeking to end the Israeli occupation and fulfill our rights. Just as we supported the French efforts of the Paris Peace Conference, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and many other world leaders for this objective, we welcome the efforts of the U.S. administration in what President Trump has referred to as the ‘ultimate deal.’ We don’t see any contradiction between negotiations and continuing to seek justice through the legitimate tools and instruments available under international law. It is our right to undertake all peaceful means to end the torment of our people and to fulfill their inalienable rights and legitimate national aspirations.

“The Palestinian leadership understands the urgency, as well as the dangers, of the current situation, and we will continue to demand that the international community assumes its responsibilities, including providing protection for our people, as per international humanitarian law, and in working collectively to end Israel’s impunity.

“Our goal remains to achieve a two-state solution on the 1967 border and freedom and justice for our people. However, we understand that the Israeli government is doing everything possible in order to make the achievement of an independent State of Palestine impossible. In addition to that, we must contend with the lack of political will from the international community to take any meaningful steps that will enforce international law and UN resolutions in Palestine.

“As I said last month during the UN General Assembly Debate, we know that freedom is coming and that the occupation will eventually end: if not by achieving the two-state solution on the 1967 border, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, it will inevitably come through the fulfillment of equal rights for the inhabitants of historic Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. No people on earth could ever accept to live as slaves or under an apartheid regime. History has so vividly and painfully taught us that. As we mark one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration, the British government has reiterated how proud they are of this infamous document that translated into the Palestinian catastrophe, with all of its regional and global repercussions. They are even going to celebrate it. Instead of organizing a celebration for one of the darkest episodes of British colonialism, the United Kingdom has the historical and moral responsibility to apologize to the people of Palestine. At the same time, we call upon the British Government to assume without delay reparative actions, by recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital and taking concrete steps to contribute to the realization of the political rights of the Palestinian people, the very rights that were denied by Balfour a century ago.

“This will not repair the countless detrimental consequences of foreign colonialism in our region, and particularly in Palestine, but it would serve as an example for the rest of the international community to rise to their responsibilities to do what is necessary for a just and lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace, and for broader peace in the Middle East to become a reality, changing the course of our future, individual and collective, for the better for our coming generations.”

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[1] The Cairo Review of Global Affairs  is a quarterly journal published by the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the AmericanUniversity in Cairo.

[2] Thecairoreview.com, Nov 2, 2017.

Palestinian Authority is unable to fight terror tunnels, official says

November 3, 2017

Palestinian Authority is unable to fight terror tunnels, official says, Israel Hayom, Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom Staff, November 3, 2017

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas | Photo: Reuters

Meanwhile, tensions between Jordan and the Palestinians were nearing a boiling point over the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.

Senior Jordanian and PA officials told Israel Hayom on Thursday that the lack of communication between Amman and Ramallah is almost total, and that Jordanian officials accuse the Palestinians of jeopardizing the kingdom’s national security by allowing Hamas to integrate into the PA’s government institutions.

The officials also decried allowing Hamas to operate in the West Bank in a manner that might undermine the Jordanian regime’s stability, because the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, is active in the kingdom.

Jordan’s King Abdullah recently rejected a request by former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to reopen a Hamas consulate in Jordan, from where it would have been able to operate to realize its ambition of replacing Abbas as leader of the Palestinian Authority.

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The Palestinian Authority does not have the ability to prevent Hamas or any of the other Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups from continuing to dig terror tunnels, senior PA officials told Israel Hayom on Thursday.

One senior PA official close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Hayom that the “Palestinian reconciliation and the transfer of control [in Gaza] are on the declarative level only. In actuality, Hamas is in control on the ground in Gaza, and the PA’s security apparatus currently has no ability to contend against it and against the other [armed] Palestinian factions, certainly not with regard to preventing digging new terror tunnels.”

Moreover, the official stressed, the Palestinian Authority has no desire to exercise its authority in Gaza once control of the border crossings and civil affairs are transferred to the Palestinian unity government.

“What you in Israel and the United States do not understand is that we want to give this reconciliation a chance to succeed, even if not everything goes smoothly,” he said. “Therefore we are not interested in a confrontation with Hamas, certainly not because of the tunnel issue. We will be able to restrain Hamas in Gaza just as it is restrained in the West Bank, but it is a lengthy process that will take time [to implement], and for the time being it is not in our interest or desire to prevent Hamas from continuing its security-related activity in the Gaza Strip.”

A senior Palestinian security official told Israel Hayom that the PA’s military presence in Gaza is minimal and completely uninvolved.

“For all intents and purposes, the police in Gaza merely swapped the blue Hamas uniforms for PA uniforms. Hamas still has control on the ground and is continuing its security-related activities more intensely than ever, including digging tunnels for the purpose of terror and training. We haven’t been in Gaza for more than 10 years, and now, too, we don’t actually have control on the ground. We couldn’t even arrange a safe trip for Abbas to Gaza.

“We, as a security arm of the Palestinian Authority, don’t have the option or the ability to cope with Hamas’ military wing. Hamas’ political wing struggles to rein in its military wing, so how could we? The hope is that Hamas will come to understand that if it desires a Palestinian state it needs to disarm and merge with the PA’s security apparatus, but this is a long process,” the official said.

Meanwhile, tensions between Jordan and the Palestinians were nearing a boiling point over the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.

Senior Jordanian and PA officials told Israel Hayom on Thursday that the lack of communication between Amman and Ramallah is almost total, and that Jordanian officials accuse the Palestinians of jeopardizing the kingdom’s national security by allowing Hamas to integrate into the PA’s government institutions.

The officials also decried allowing Hamas to operate in the West Bank in a manner that might undermine the Jordanian regime’s stability, because the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, is active in the kingdom.

Jordan’s King Abdullah recently rejected a request by former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to reopen a Hamas consulate in Jordan, from where it would have been able to operate to realize its ambition of replacing Abbas as leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians: Meet Abbas’s New Partners

November 3, 2017

Palestinians: Meet Abbas’s New Partners, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, November 3, 2017

(Please see also, Islamic Scholars Gather to Discuss Destroying Israel.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of terror organization Hamas, spoke in Beirut to assure conference attendees that Israel has no future and that Hamas would continue to attack the country, according to reports.

— DM)

This is a marriage of convenience intended first and foremost for internal consumption and then for tricking the international community. It’s time for the world to listen to what Palestinian leaders are telling their people in Arabic. In Arabic, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are being very honest and frank about their dream to destroy Israel.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed very serious about their intentions; they are not only talking, but are busy digging more tunnels and amassing weapons in preparation for the destruction of Israel. These are Abbas’s new partners, and the world needs to take notice.

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Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are strongly opposed to Mahmoud Abbas’s political agenda and even see him as a collaborator with Israel.

Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced at a rally on November 2 that they are determined to stick to their weapons “until the liberation of all of Palestine” — or, in other words, until the total destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews.

When Zahar says that only a “crazy person” thinks he can disarm Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, he is clearly referring to Abbas. Zahar’s statement should be seen as a direct threat to Abbas.

Abbas continues to tell the world that he is working to achieve a peaceful settlement with Israel. But will he be able to continue saying such things after he joins forces with his new partners in Hamas and Islamic Jihad? The answer is simple and clear: No.

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.

The tunnel was supposed to be used by Hamas to dispatch terrorists into Israel to kill or kidnap as many Jews as possible. The tunnel was a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad project. The terrorists have been working on the tunnel for some time — before and after the “reconciliation” accord that was reached in Cairo last month.

This means that for Hamas and Islamic Jihad it is business as usual — “reconciliation” or not, they are determined to continue their jihad to destroy Israel. The two terror groups may allow Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to return to the Gaza Strip, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad will continue to control what goes on under the earth. They will also continue to stick to their weapons in preparation for war against Israel.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the rest of the terror groups operating in the Gaza Strip continue to make it clear as day that they have no intention to disarm as a result of the “reconciliation” agreement. Abbas and the PA are welcome to assume civilian control of the Gaza Strip, but when it comes to security and weapons, Abbas is not entitled to raise this issue at all.

On November 2, Abbas received yet another indication of what awaits him and his Palestinian Authority as a result of the “reconciliation” agreement. Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced that they are determined to stick to their weapons “until the liberation of all of Palestine” — or, in other words, until the total destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews.

The announcement was made during a rally held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the town of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip to commemorate two Hamas terrorists who were killed when Israel blew up the tunnel two days earlier.

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, told the thousands of Palestinians attending the rally: “We will continue to resist the occupier until the liberation of all of Palestine.” He also cautioned “any crazy person against trying to take one rifle from the hands of the resistance.” Zahar sent his “blessings” to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists who are preparing around the clock to wage war against Israel. “We are training our sons to dig under the temporary borders so that they can reach the occupied territories [Israel].”

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, pictured in 2005. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Nafez Azzam, who spoke at the rally, also stressed his group’s adherence to its weapons. “For Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the option of jihad is a basic option. It’s a great honor to stand here today in front of our martyrs.”

These are the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders who are soon expected to become Abbas’s partners in managing the affairs of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in accordance with the “reconciliation” deal. These Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are strongly opposed to Abbas’s political agenda and even see him as a “collaborator” with Israel. At the rally, both Zahar and Azzam repeated their vehement opposition to any peaceful settlement with Israel and said that “armed resistance” is the only way to destroy Israel. The two men should be given credit for their honesty and straight-forward talk.

Zahar’s warning should ignite a red light with Abbas. When Zahar says that only a “crazy person” thinks he can disarm Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, he is clearly referring to Abbas. Zahar’s statement should be seen as a direct threat to Abbas. Abbas, for his part, is not oblivious to such threats and he knows, more than anyone else, that the weapons of Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip are a red line. If he crosses it, he will be buried in one of the terror tunnels.

So why does Abbas insist on proceeding with his “reconciliation” agreement with Hamas? Because he wants to look good in the eyes of his people by showing them that he cares about Palestinian “unity” and is keen on ending the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas is hoping that the agreement will allow him to present himself as the president of all Palestinians, including those living in the Gaza Strip, and not just a powerless and weak president controlling small parts of the West Bank. Some Palestinians like to refer to Abbas as the “Mayor of Ramallah” – a hint at his limited power.

Abbas continues to tell the world that he is working to achieve a peaceful settlement with Israel. But will he be able to continue saying such things after he joins forces with his new partners in Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Will Zahar and Azzam allow Abbas to pursue any peace process with Israel after the “reconciliation” accord is implemented? The answer is simple and clear: No.

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority may be on their way to returning to the Gaza Strip, but nothing good will come out of this move. This is merely an internal Palestinian issue designed to benefit both Abbas and Hamas, each in their own way and according to their own interests. But at the end of the day, no dramatic changes should be expected as a result of the “marriage” between the PA and Hamas.

This is a marriage of convenience intended first and foremost for internal consumption and then for tricking the international community. It’s time for the world to listen to what Palestinian leaders are telling their people in Arabic. In Arabic, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are being very honest and frank about their dream to destroy Israel.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed very serious about their intentions; they are not only talking, but are busy digging more tunnels and amassing weapons in preparation for the destruction of Israel. These are Abbas’s new partners, and the world needs to take notice.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel

October 23, 2017

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, October 23, 2017

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

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Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East, as it does with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This does not bode well for the future of “reconciliation” between Hamas and Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction run by President Mahmoud Abbas.The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East.

The Iranians are urging Hamas to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent “reconciliation” agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

A high-level Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s “political bureau,” traveled to Tehran last week to brief Iranian leaders on the “reconciliation” deal with Fatah. During the visit, Iranian leaders praised Hamas for resisting demands (by Fatah) to disarm and relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.

“We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons, an issue that you consider as a red line,” Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials. “The Palestinian cause is the most important cause of the Islamic world, and after all this time you remain committed to the principle of resistance against the Zionists despite all the pressure you are facing.”

During the visit of a high-level Hamas delegation to Iran last week, Ali Velayati (pictured above in 2016), a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials: “We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons…” (Image source: Hamed Malekpour/Wikimdia Commons)

Arouri and his colleagues rushed to Tehran to seek the support of the Iranian regime in the wake of demands by Abbas that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume security control over the Gaza Strip. The “reconciliation” agreement stipulates nothing about the need for Hamas to disarm, and Hamas officials have stressed during the past two weeks that they have no intention of laying down their weapons or dismantling their security apparatus in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas views the demand to disarm as part of an Israeli-American “conspiracy” designed to eliminate the Palestinian “resistance” and thwart the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas’s Fatah. Hamas’s refusal to disarm is already threatening to spoil the “reconciliation.”

Arouri was quoted during his visit to Tehran as saying that Hamas “will not backtrack on the option of defending the Palestinian people.” He specified that the “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah would not affect the weapons of the Palestinian “resistance,” including Hamas. Hamas, he added, will “confront the Israeli-American conspiracy through national unity and reconciliation and by continuing the resistance. The Palestinian resistance forces will always stick to their weapons and will not lay them down.”

Hamas also sees the visit of its top officials to Tehran as a rejection of Israel’s demand that it cut off its ties with Iran. Hamas officials say they continue to see their relations with Iran as “strategic and significant,” especially in wake of Tehran’s financial and military aid to their movement in the Gaza Strip.

By aligning itself with Iran, Hamas is also seeking to resist any demand that it abandon its ideology and charter, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iranian officials apparently do not like Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and are not keen on seeing them return to the Gaza Strip. Iran considers Abbas a “traitor” because his Palestinian Authority conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and claims that it is committed to a “peace process” with Israel. This position goes against Iran’s wish to destroy the “Zionist entity.”

Abbas, for his part, has always considered Iran a threat to his regime as well as to stability in the region. In the past, he has criticized Iran for “meddling” in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Iran after a senior Iranian official accused Abbas of waging war in the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel. The official’s statement came in response to a series of punitive measures imposed by Abbas on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and some Arab countries. He said that Iran’s actions “encouraged divisions” among the Palestinians. “Iran must stop feeding civil wars in the Arab world,” he said. “Iran must stop using rhetoric that only serves Israel and the enemies of the Arabs.”

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now convinced that Iran is working towards foiling the “reconciliation” agreement with Hamas. They believe that Iran invited the Hamas leaders to Tehran to pressure them not to lay down its weapons.

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their “reconciliation” agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.

Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.

The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran’s plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.

Iran’s continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.

Many Palestinians see the “successful” visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the “reconciliation” would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.

As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.

Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the “reconciliation” agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.