Palestinian militants of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas' armed wing, take part in a rally in Gaza City.
(photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Former Saudi Arabian General Anwar Eshki, who visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories last week, issued a scathing critique of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas for claiming his visit amounted to normalization.
Speaking to the Egyptian news site, al-Youm al-Sabaa, Eshki, who currently serves as chairman of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Saudi Arabia, said that he did not visit Israel as Israeli newspapers reported, but rather “Jerusalem and Palestine”, and added that PIJ and Hamas leaders were wrong to suggest otherwise.
“[My visit] infuriated some leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas because they based their decisions on what Israeli newspapers published, which proves that they are living under a cultural and media occupation,” he said.
Eshki posited that PIJ and Hamas leaders have a flawed understanding of normalization. He said that normalization is the establishment of normal relations between two peoples and two countries and that the dialogue meetings he held with various Israelis and Palestinians do not reflect that.
He also accused Hamas and PIJ leaders of hypocrisy, saying they have shook hands with and hugged Israelis at international conferences and asked him and his center to develop plans to improve their relations with Israel.
Moreover, Eshki argued that many of PIJ’s and Hamas’s allies are partaking in “real normalization”. He said the relationship between Turkey and Israel and the comments of an Iranian minister that Saudi Arabia, not Israel, is the real enemy, embody the true concept of normalization.
This morning, PIJ leader Khaled Batsh, responded to Eshki’s statements, saying that he is being deceptive in order to justify his visit to Jerusalem. He added that PIJ fully rejects normalization with Israel. “We reject normalization with [Israel] and we do not sign agreements with it and if General Eshki has extra time, he should exert his efforts to unite the Islamic nation and reject disputes between its members,” he said.
Eshki came to Israel and the Palestinian Territories for a five day visit, in which he met with a number of Israeli and Palestinian officials in addition to members of civil society at the King David hotel. He also prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, toured Bethlehem, and attended the wedding of the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti’s son, Qassam Barghouti.
Eshki had previously met with Director General of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold in Washington, D.C. and has said he supports normalizing relations with Israel following the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.