'Fatah has never recognized Israel and will never do so'

Central C'tee member, close to Abbas says only governments recognize each other, not political parties; praises Hamas leader's speech.

Fatah Central C'tee member Fatah Azzam al-Ahmed 311 (R) (photo credit: Suhaib Salem / Reuters)
Fatah Central C'tee member Fatah Azzam al-Ahmed 311 (R)
(photo credit: Suhaib Salem / Reuters)
Fatah has never recognized Israel’s right to exist and will never do so, according to Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who is closely associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ahmed, who is also head of the Fatah negotiating team with Hamas, said PA security forces in the West Bank were arresting Hamas supporters to protect them from being targeted by the IDF.
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Ahmed’s remarks were made in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al- Youm.
Asked whether Fatah had spoken with Hamas about recognizing Israel, the senior Fatah official said, “Fatah has not recognized Israel. I challenge anyone who says that the case is otherwise, whether it’s Hamas or others. Neither Fatah nor Hamas is required to recognize Israel. Only governments and states extend recognition. It was the Palestinian government that recognized Israel, just as the Israeli government recognized us.”
Ahmed said the PLO had recognized Israel with the signing of the Oslo Accords.
“An organization recognized a state and a state recognized an organization,” he said.
“Now states should recognize each other when a Palestinian state is declared next September.”
In response to allegations that PA security forces have been cracking down on Hamas supporters in the West Bank, Ahmed said, “We in Fatah arrest Hamas members to protect them from Israel or from family disputes.”
The Fatah official praised Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal for delivering a “wonderful” speech during the signing ceremony for the Egyptian-brokered Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accord in Cairo on May 4.
“Mashaal used political language like President Abbas,” he added. “He talked about a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and said that he would give political efforts and negotiations a chance. Therefore, I consider this speech to be responsible.”
Ahmed said the new PA unity government, which would be established in accordance with the reconciliation pact, would not deal with peace talks with Israel.
“The PLO is in charge of the negotiations,” he emphasized.
“Hamas will join the PLO Executive Committee and become part of the PLO.”
He said he was happy to see Egyptians demonstrating outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in the aftermath of the departure of the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
“When I see the demonstrations surrounding the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, I feel optimistic and that, as a Palestinian, I have received a new weapon and pressure force,” Ahmed said.
“This is a new change and we have seen how the Israelis are worried about these demonstrations.”