'PA should focus on Palestinian unity, not Israel'
Hamas official Zahar and PFLP official come out against current talks in Amman; "The future is ours," Zahar says.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
January 9, 2012 20:30
4 minute read.
Mahmoud Zahar 311.
(photo credit: (Courtesy of Channel One))
The coming rise of Islamism in the Arab world will strengthen support
for Hamas, which will not give up its armed confrontation with Israel,
senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said on Monday.Zahar
said Hamas was not prepared to stop fighting against Israel under any
circumstances. He denied that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, based in
Damascus, had endorsed Abbas's concept of non-violent "popular
resistance" against Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas bets on peace talks with
Israel rather than reconciling his Fatah movement with Hamas, he will
lose out, Zahar said in an interview with Reuters in his Gaza office.
'PA joined talks unwillingly, doesn’t want peace'
‘Document Israel gave PA was just an outline’
changing factors around us are in our favor ... they are not in favor
either of Fatah's project or those with whom it cooperates, including
the Israeli enemy," he said, watched by his bodyguards.
depends on Fatah's policy now," Zahar said. "If Fatah wants the (unity)
agreement to be accomplished, we will be ready. If they do not want,
then we are sitting here and the future is ours."
"Popular resistance includes both Fatah agenda, which speaks of protests
only, and the Hamas position which advocates gathering all means of
military armament for the sake of self-defense," Zahar said.
He foresaw a rising tide of Islamism in the Arab world which would strengthen the Palestinian cause.
"What is coming in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya and currently in Sudan is
supportive of the Palestinian cause, not as in the past a strategic
supporter of the Israeli occupation," he said.
"What is coming is a thousand times better than in the past. Therefore
we have to invest in these achievements by the Arab street for the sake
of achieving the fundamental goals of the Palestinian people, the
liberation of land and the return of (refugees)," Zahar added.
Since the 1979 peace treaty Egypt, along with Jordan, has been Israel's
most reliable Arab partner in the Middle East. But the overthrow last
February of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the uprising inspired by
popular revolution in Tunisia has created uncertainty over Egypt's
future attitude towards Israel.
Saying 'no' to non-violence
Zahar is a leading Hamas figure, seen by Fatah as a hardliner, who lost
two sons fighting against Israel. He is a senior negotiator in the
reconciliation process with Fatah, which has been faltering almost since
it was signed.
Zahar said Egypt, now ending a lengthy election process that will lead
to a new constitution, is clearly destined to be ruled by "a sweeping
Islamist party and a nationalist party" that will back the Palestinian
The reconciliation agreement with Fatah, signed last May and sealed
personally by Abbas and Mashaal last month in Cairo, may suffer if Abbas
pursues peace talks with Israel, he warned.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials of the two sides have
held talks in Amman, Jordan, in the past week after more than a year in
suspension. "Our doubts are really great, especially after these
meetings in Amman," Zahar said.
Hamas refuses to accept Israel and is ostracized by the West as a
terrorist group which refuses to renounce violence. Jerusalem has warned
that striking a unity pact with Hamas would eliminate Abbas and Fatah
as a potential partner for peace.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also came out
Monday against the PA's recent talks with Israel. The PA, senior PFLP
official Kayid al-Ghous said, should focus on reconciliation among
Palestinian factions instead of engaging in talks with Israel.
Meeting with Israel "poisons the atmosphere for reconciliation efforts,"
Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted the PFLP leader as saying.
Arguing that the current round of meetings between Israeli and
Palestinian negotiators in Amman is aimed at sniffing out Israel's
positions is "a witless and misleading justification," Ghoul said.
"Israel's attitudes are clearly announced and well known," he added,
saying that by sitting down with Israel, the PA is allowing it to avoid
'We would respond by all possible means'
"Imagine that the Israeli enemy attacked us today or tomorrow ... If we
were attacked we would respond by all possible means," Zahar said.
If Israel launched a military offensive into Gaza, Zahar said he bet
Arab reaction would be stronger than in 2009 when 1,400 Palestinians
were killed in Israel's three-week onslaught to stop rocket firing from
Gaza into its territories. Thirteen Israelis were killed in that
"(Israel) could use the foggy political situation as the Arab nation
still organises itself ... to launch a new aggression against Gaza
Strip," he said.
"They cannot accept that Gaza remains a painful and dangerous thorn in the future of the Israeli entity."