Hamas continues to believe in its right to “armed struggle” against Israel but
will coordinate all political, diplomatic and military activity with other
Palestinian factions, the movement’s leader said this weekend.
Mashaal, the group’s Damascus-based politburo chief, told The Wall Street Journal
on Friday that “negotiations with Israel, domestic governance, foreign affairs,
domestic security and resistance and other field activities” against Israel
would all be conducted in consensus with Fatah and other, smaller, Palestinian
Analysis: For Hamas, unity is just a tactic to survive
Mashaal: Palestinians' common enemy is Israel
“How to manage the resistance, what’s the best way to achieve
our goals, when to escalate and when to cease fire, now we have to agree on all
those decisions as Palestinians,” Mashaal told the paper after signing a
national unity agreement with Fatah.
Ahead of Wednesday’s signing
ceremony, Nabil Sha’ath, an associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas,told the Journal he believes Hamas is moving toward a strategy of nonviolent
resistance, at least for now.
“They accept nonviolent
resistance. That’s what Mashaal said in closed meetings,” Sha’ath said.
“He said, ‘We cannot do violence and you do nonviolence. It does not work
out.’” An Israeli official dismissed the Mashaal interview and said there was
nothing new in it.
“Hamas remains stuck in its extremist positions
refusing to recognize Israel, refusing to renounce terrorism and refusing to
support peace. What Mashaal is basically saying is that if Israel will be stupid
enough to give the West Bank to Hams, they will continue to attack Israel from
the West Bank,” the official said.
On Saturday, Hamas authorities broke
up a rally of dozens of Salafists protesting in Gaza City’s main square against
the killing of Osama bin Laden. Protesters chanted, “We warn you America, we
warn you Europe,” carried pictures of the al-Qaida leader and waved banners
reading, “We are all your soldiers, Osama” and “Osama is alive inside
Last week, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, denounced bin
Laden’s killing as an assassination “of an Arab holy warrior.”
told Reuters that Haniyeh may have been trying to cool tensions with Salafist
groups, who call for a fundamentalist version of Islam based on the faith as
followed by its founders and consider Hamas too moderate.
forces cordoned off the square in Gaza City, stopped protesters from marching
through the streets and ordered them to leave.
In Israel, government
ministers reacted to the Palestinian reconciliation deal with
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel would not accept a
“terrorist Palestinian government” that on the one hand speaks of peace, and on
the other continues to use money transferred to it by Israel to attack the
Steinitz told Israel Radio on Friday that all factions
within the PA government, including Hamas, must accept the conditions set by the
Quartet of Middle East negotiators, including the renunciation of violence. To
that end, Abbas must meet his obligation to dismantle the rocket- launching
apparatus in Gaza, Steinitz said.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz
warned of the dangers of the unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood
planned for September.
“The unilateral establishment of a Palestinian
state with Hamas will strengthen Iran’s foothold in the region,” Katz said on
Friday while visiting the home of the Fogel family in the Itamar
On March 11, Palestinian terrorists murdered five members of
the family, including two small boys and a three-monthold girl, as they slept in
“Hamas and its leaders are the only ones in the world who
criticized the killing of Osama bin Laden. We do not need to be in contact with
such an organization,” Katz said.
Abbas will soon visit the Gaza Strip
for the first time in four years, to negotiate a prisoner swap between the two
factions, Army Radio reported, quoting the Palestinian Al-Quds
The PA president has not set foot in the coastal territory
since Hamas seized power there in 2007.
Masked gunmen shot and killed a
man in the West Bank whom they believed to be a collaborator with Israel,
Reuters reported on Saturday, quoting medical and security
Muhammad Khawaldi, 30, was shot in the Jalazone refugee camp 7
km. north of Ramallah, his body riddled with bullets, they said.
security source said Khawaldi worked for Israeli intelligence and was a wanted
Palestinian security did not know the identity of the killers and
has begun an investigation, the source said.