Hamas warned over the weekend that any foreign troops deployed in the West Bank or Gaza Strip as part of a US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be considered an “occupation force” and dealt with accordingly.
Hamas’s threat came in response to statements made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent interview with The New York Times, where he said that he would not oppose the deployment of NATO troops in a future Palestinian state to prevent terrorism and the smuggling of weapons.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said during a rally in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday that his movement would not accept the presence of any foreign force after an Israeli withdrawal.
“We will deal with such a force as an occupying power like Israeli occupation,” Abu Zuhri said, implying that Hamas would launch attacks on such a force. “[US Secretary of State John] Kerry and others need to reconsider their positions.
They need to know that the Palestinians haven’t authorized anyone to harm their rights.”
Abu Zuhri called on Palestinian groups to unify their ranks to thwart any agreement reached between the PA and Israel. “We will succeed in foiling this conspiracy,” he said, referring to Kerry’s efforts to achieve peace. “No Arab country would agree to the violation of one inch of its land.”
The Hamas spokesman said that Kerry’s so-called framework agreement between the PA and Israel is nothing but an American-Israeli scheme to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
“Unfortunately, the Palestinian negotiators have agreed to be involved in this scheme,” he added. “But our people won’t be deceived by dangerous plans. Hamas won’t allow any agreement that affects Palestinian rights.”
Abu Zuhri renewed his call on Abbas to pull out of the peace talks with Israel. Addressing Abbas, he said, “No one gave you a mandate to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people or Hamas or any other Palestinian faction.”
Fatah responded to the latest Hamas threat by declaring that the presence of NATO troops or any other third party in the West Bank or Gaza Strip does not harm Palestinian “sovereignty.”
In a statement published Saturday, Fatah said that Hamas is in agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the issue of the presence of foreign troops in a Palestinian state.
Fatah accused Hamas of sending “suspicious messages” that are in line with Israel’s stance and serve its goal.
In a related development, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced Saturday that his movement would not “give up one inch of the land of Palestine or relinquish Palestinian rights.”
Haniyeh said that the peace talks have brought the Palestinians nothing but disasters and concessions. The Palestinians, he added, are not bound by any deal struck by Kerry, because it would be seen as unjust and designed to “solidify the usurpation of our land.”