Archive for the ‘Hamas – Palestinian Authority reconciliation’ category

‘Don’t you dare’

November 13, 2017

‘Don’t you dare’ Israel Hayom, Yoav Limor, November 13, 2017

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

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The unusual announcement from Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories unit, Saturday night was not out of the blue. In Israel, defense officials believe Palestinian Islamic Jihad is preparing a revenge attack for the demolition of its underground tunnel and deaths of its people.

This assessment was enough for Mordechai to leave his home Saturday evening, put on his uniform, and drive to IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv to record an announcement in Arabic, the gist of which can be summarized in three simple words: Don’t you dare.

During the 69 seconds in which he spoke, Mordechai sought to transfer the dilemma to the other side. Ever since the tunnel was destroyed, some two weeks ago, Israel has been on high alert; its military activity along the security fence has been minimal, agricultural work in the vicinity has been greatly restricted, and the message received by the Gaza was that Israel was waiting for a retaliation.

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

This purpose of this message was to pass the dilemma back to Gaza. It was meant for Hamas, which is taking great pains to restrain Islamic Jihad and has thus far managed to stop it from retaliating; and for Islamic Jihad itself – which was warned that a terrorist attack would bring disaster to the Gaza Strip and sabotage Palestinian reconciliation efforts (which Israel opposes but is presently seeking to utilize). As expected, Islamic Jihad responded with an aggressive message of its own, reiterating its intention to retaliate.

With that, it appears the group’s leadership in Gaza has yet to make that decision and is waiting for the green light from its military headquarters in Damascus, namely from Ramadan Salah and his second-in-command Ziad Nahala. This is also why Mordechai included in his statement a particularly undiplomatic message for the two, warning “there will be those who will be held responsible” for the consequences of a future attack.

In the meantime, there are no signs that Islamic Jihad is folding. If the prevailing assumption of a revenge attack materializes – which will lead to an assured Israeli response – we could find ourselves in a downward spiral that neither side wants.

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection

November 8, 2017

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, November 8, 2017

Hamas has already stated repeatedly that it has absolutely no intention of laying down its weapons as promised for the “reconciliation” agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

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Now that the Iranians have sole control over Lebanon, their eyes are set on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, for its part, is thirsting for Iranian resources. Hamas knows that it will have to pay a price.

Iran and Hezbollah are working with Hamas to establish a “joint front” against Israel.

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has had enough. Last week, Iran finalized its takeover of Lebanon when Hariri resigned, and reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia.

Hariri, denouncing Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, said he feared for his life. Hariri has good reason to be afraid of Hezbollah, the powerful Shia terror group and Iranian proxy that effectively controls Lebanon.

Indications show that Iran and Hezbollah are also planning to extend their control to the Gaza Strip. Iran already provides Hamas with financial and military aid. It is precisely the support of Iran that has enabled Hamas to hold in power in the Gaza Strip for the past 10 years. It is also thanks to Iran that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another major terror group in the Gaza Strip, are in possession of thousands of missiles and rockets. It is Iranian money that allows Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to continue digging terror tunnels under the border with Israel.

Relations between Iran and Hamas have grown stronger in the past few weeks. Last month, a senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to attend the funeral of the father of the senior Iranian security official, Qasem Soleimani. A few weeks earlier, another senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to brief Iranian leaders on the latest developments surrounding the “reconciliation” agreement reached between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA).

It was the first time senior Hamas officials visited Iran since relations between the two sides became strained in 2011. That year, Iran suspended its ties with Hamas over the latter’s refusal to support Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, against his opponents in its civil war. The sudden rapprochement between Hamas and Iran has raised concerns among Abbas and his Palestinian Authority officials regarding Hamas’s sincerity in implementing the “reconciliation” agreement. President Abbas and his officials wonder why Hamas rushed into arms of Iran immediately after reaching the “reconciliation” accord under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities.

Iran and Hezbollah are no fans of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is terrified that Hamas is trying to bring Iran and its Hezbollah proxy into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas and his PA are eager to return to the Gaza Strip, but the presence of Iran there creates a serious problem. Like Hariri, Abbas would have good reason to fear for his life if Hamas brings the Iranians and Hezbollah into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s fear is also not unjustified. Earlier this week, a senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, disclosed that his movement and Hezbollah were working towards strengthening their relations. “Relations between Hamas and Hezbollah were never cut off,” Abu Marzouk stated.

“We have ongoing contacts and understandings. But we preferred to keep them away from the spotlight. Hamas and Hezbollah are in one line in the fight against Israel, and we coordinate our positions regarding the Palestinian cause. Hamas will continue to cooperate with resistance groups that support the Palestinian resistance.”

The alliance between Hamas and Hezbollah is a direct result of the renewed relations between Iran and Hamas. With the help of Hezbollah, Iran has managed to take control of large parts of Syria. With the help of Hezbollah, Iran already controls Lebanon. Now that the Iranians have sole control over Lebanon, their eyes are set on the Gaza Strip. They know that the only way to access the Gaza Strip is through the Hamas door. Iran wants to see Hezbollah inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, is thirsting for Iranian resources. Hamas knows that it will have to pay a price: allowing Iran and Hezbollah to set foot in the Gaza Strip. Judging from the remarks of Abu Marzouk, Hamas appears to be happy to pay the price.

Hariri, Abbas and many Sunni Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, felt betrayed by the Obama Administration’s policy of détente towards Iran — a policy that emboldened the Iranians and gave them a green light to meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries to try to establish, as they seem to have done, a “Shiite Crescent” from Persia through Yemen and now Lebanon, clear to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Sunni Arabs are apparently particularly worried about the nuclear deal signed between the Obama Administration and Iran. They feel that the Obama Administration’s attempt to appease the Iranians has emboldened the country that is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Iran has since taken advantage of the nuclear deal to threaten and try to terrorize America, its friends and its Arab allies.

Abbas has multiple reasons to be worried about the Hamas-Hezbollah alliance. Here is another one: a recent meeting in Beirut between Hamas leader Saleh Arouri and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was yet another sign of Hamas’s effort to pave the way for Iran and Hezbollah to infiltrate the Gaza Strip and meddle in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.

A recent meeting in Beirut between Hamas leader Saleh Arouri (left) and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (right) was another sign of Hamas’s effort to pave the way for Iran and Hezbollah to infiltrate the Gaza Strip. (Image source: Hezbollah via Al Manar)

Hamas has already stated repeatedly that it has absolutely no intention of laying down its weapons as promised for the “reconciliation” agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is prepared to cede to PA President Mahmoud Abbas limited civilian control of the Gaza Strip, but has been clear that it will never dismantle its security apparatus or military wing. Hamas wants to bring the Iranians and Hezbollah into the Gaza Strip to counterbalance pressure from Abbas and Egypt and other countries to disarm and hand control over to Abbas. If Abbas ever returns to the Gaza Strip, he will find himself sitting not only with Hamas, but also with Iran and Hezbollah, who consider him a traitor and puppet in the hands of Israel and the US.

Alarmed by the rapprochement between Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, Saudi Arabia earlier this week summoned Abbas for urgent talks in Riyadh. The Saudis have been following with concern the visits by Hamas leaders to Iran and Hezbollah, and are worried that Abbas may face the same fate as Hariri.

Abbas may well wish to steer clear of the Gaza Strip: Iran and Hezbollah are working with Hamas to establish a “joint front” against Israel. Hamas’s decision to tilt towards Iran and Hezbollah discloses the truth: it is not headed towards moderation and pragmatism, but the very opposite. This does not bode well for the current Trump Administration’s efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Without stopping Iran and Hezbollah from spreading their influence and control to the Gaza Strip and Arab countries, the prospects of peace seem rather dim. In fact, the prospects of war seem pretty close, as Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad meet in the middle to discuss their plans for war against Israel. Failing to stop Iran and Hezbollah would mean that Abbas may soon find themselves hiding with Hariri in Saudi Arabia.

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

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.

Secret Egyptian-Hamas bid to rush through Gaza crossings handover to Palestinian Authority

November 1, 2017

Secret Egyptian-Hamas bid to rush through Gaza crossings handover to Palestinian Authority, DEBKAfile, October 31, 2017

DEBKAfile’s US sources disclose additionally that there is nothing to the reports published in Israel in the last few days that the Trump administration is on the point of presenting Israel with a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Senior US officials in Washington told our sources that no such plan exists. They say that Middle East leaders, who are talking about it, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, are fully aware of this, but are using the non-existent US peace plan as a pretext for turning down or delaying projects they deem undesirable.

The only real project engaging Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at present is the establishment of joint Israel-Palestinian industrial zones in Judea and Samaria.

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Egyptian intelligence and Hamas security agencies are in an overnight effort to rush through the Gaza crossings’ handover to the Palestinian Authority by Wednesday morning, Nov. 1, even if only as a token step. This is reported by DEBKAfile.

To distract attention, they put out a statement earlier Tuesday pretending that the transfer had been postponed from Tuesday to Nov. 15 in consideration of the high military tension generated around Gaza by the IDF’s destruction of a Jihad Islami terror tunnel on Monday.

Our military sources report that the latest Egyptian-brokered Palestinian unity steps are shrouded in secrecy, which Israel, too, is preserving. Therefore, there is no information about a Palestinian Authority security contingent reaching the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Neither is there any word about this contingent obtaining permission to travel from Bethlehem through Israel and gaining entry to the territory through the Erez crossing. This contingent may still make the journey overnight under cover of dark – either through Israel or Egypt – barring another last-minute change of plan.

If they go ahead, the transfer itself will take some days.

Egyptian and Hamas officials are confident that the Jihad Islami won’t act Tuesday night on its threat to wreak vengeance on Israel for blowing up its terror tunnel in an explosion that left 11 operatives dead.

DEBKAfile’s US sources disclose additionally that there is nothing to the reports published in Israel in the last few days that the Trump administration is on the point of presenting Israel with a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Senior US officials in Washington told our sources that no such plan exists. They say that Middle East leaders, who are talking about it, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, are fully aware of this, but are using the non-existent US peace plan as a pretext for turning down or delaying projects they deem undesirable.

The only real project engaging Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at present is the establishment of joint Israel-Palestinian industrial zones in Judea and Samaria.

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs

October 25, 2017

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs, MEMRI, October 25, 2017

(Please see also, The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel. — DM)

In an October 23, 2017 article in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Saudi journalist and academic Baina Al-Mulhim leveled scathing criticism at Hamas. The article was written against the backdrop of the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, reflected in a visit by a high-ranking Hamas delegation to Tehran and in statements by Hamas officials on the importance of tightening relations with Iran and of this country’s financial and political support of Hamas.[1] Al-Mulhim wrote that Hamas is experiencing a crisis of identity because, despite being a Sunni movement, it follows the Shi’ite Iranian model and has established an Iranian emirate in Gaza, and its leaders are completely subordinate to Iran’s ayatollahs. She added that Hamas, like Hizbullah, is not a resistance movement but rather a “contractor” implementing the Iranian agenda, and is exploiting the problems of the Palestinian people for political purposes.

The following are excerpts from her article:

The Hamas delegation meets with Iranian officials in Tehran (image: alray.ps, October 22, 2017)

“It has been only a short while since the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation [agreement] was signed, [during which] I wondered, in another article, if Hamas was really serious, and if the reconciliation would cause it to return to its sanity and Arabhood… [yet] behold, just days ago [a report] was published about a Hamas delegation headed by Salah Al-‘Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, that arrived in Tehran last Friday [October 20, 2017] for a meeting with Iranian officials, as confirmed by a Hamas official… The official, who asked to remain unnamed, disclosed that the high-ranking delegation included several [other] members of Hamas’s political bureau, and that it was to meet with several Iranian officials over several days. He stated that the purpose of the visit was ‘to inform the Iranian officials about the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah, and about [recent] political developments,’ adding that the delegation would also discuss ‘ways to strengthen and develop the bilateral relations between Hamas and Iran and ensure Iran’s financial and political support of the movement, as well as [its assistance in] weapons.’ Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, likewise stressed that ‘Iran is the greatest supporter of the Al-Qassam Brigades,’ Hamas’s military wing, ‘in terms of weapons, money and training.’

“As is known, Iran is patron, for political purposes, of Sunni movements that maintain views that are radical in nature, among them Hamas. No one disagrees that political support is one thing and sectarian support is another. One of the paradoxes that should give pause to anyone who has tried in the past to justify Hamas is that Iran is supporting the [Sunni] Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt more than it is supporting the Shi’ite Da’wa Party in Iraq.

“In Gaza, Hamas has established an Iranian emirate that is completely subject to the Ayatollah [i.e. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei]. We have not forgotten [Hamas leader] Khaled Mash’al’s October 1, 2011 speech at Khamenei’s palace, which was basically a reiteration his loyalty and obedience [to Iran]. Mash’al was, after all, no more and no less than a clerk to Iran’s ayatollahs!

“The problem of ideological movements, such as Hizbullah and Hamas – which have marketed themselves as resistance movements while, according to the political path both have taken… are nothing but ‘contractors’ [for Iran] – is that their leveraging of in their people’s problems for political, economic, and material purposes is the dominant pattern of behavior in their activity and positions. This is proven by their position on the revolution in Syria – which corresponds to that of their patron, Iran!

“Hamas is experiencing an internal crisis – a crisis more of identity than political – vis-à-vis the Arabs or vis-à-vis several Arab countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. [Hamas] fears both these countries, [and] chose Iran not because it [Hamas] is an outcast – as those who defend its [pro-]Iran position try to claim – but because Hamas considers Iran a model it aspires [to emulate] when it establishes an Islamic emirate in Gaza.

“Hamas’s return to the [bosom of the] Iranian regime, as evident from its visit [to Tehran] – when it knows full well that the path of return to the Arab [fold] passes only through Saudi Arabia – sends a message, that Hamas is still ‘marching in place.'”[2]

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[1] On the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7144, Alongside Reconciliation With Fatah, Hamas Officials Tighten Relations With Iran, Call To ‘Wipe Israel Off The Map’, October 23, 2017.

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 23, 2017.

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.