Senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal urged the United States and the European Union on Sunday to support the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
During an interview he gave to the Reuters News Agency, Mashaal said: “The international position, especially that of the Europeans and the Americans, is still unclear but we hope they respect our will and decision.”
Mashaal also said that the issue of a Palestinian recognition of Israel could only be addressed after an independent Palestinian state is set up.
The Hamas leader also did not waste the opportunity and once again called for a continued armed struggle against the Jewish state.
“What is needed today is to have resistance in all forms, armed and public ones,” he said. He added that he intends to try to persuade Fatah to adopt this approach to force Israel to end its occupation.
“Any occupier in the world never retreats voluntarily,” said Mashaal. “It only retreats under pressure and force.”
Mashaal said that the international community must pressure Israel to recognize the Palestinians and not the other way around.
“Israel needs pressure. It is an occupier that would not get out by conviction or through dialogue,” said Mashaal.
When asked if Hamas was ready to recognize Israel as part of a permanent peace deal, Mashaal said that the Palestinian people should have their own independent state first.
“First allow the Palestinian people to live on their lands freely, to establish their independent state,” he said. “Then ask the Palestinian people, its government and leaders about their position towards Israel.”
Mashaal’s comments to Reuters are similar to ones he made during an interview over the weekend with the Wall Street Journal.
“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,” he said.
Mashaal also said that “negotiations with Israel, domestic governance, foreign affairs, domestic security and resistance and other field activities against Israel, would all be reached in consensus between Palestinian factions.”
He added that while Hamas will not attack Israel without prior consent by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, it still has a right to carry arms as part of its struggle against Israel.
Mashaal’s comments came following last week’s signing in Cairo of the reconciliation pact between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Under the agreement, an interim unity government will be formed, and preparations are to begin for parliamentary and presidential elections within one year.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has condemned the deal, calling it “a tremendous setback for peace and a great advance for terror.” President Shimon Peres did the same, calling the deal “a fatal mistake” and adding that if implemented, there will be a “continuation of rocket attacks, a continuation of the murder of innocent civilians, and the continuation of Iranian interference that supports and finances terror in our region.”
According to IDF Reserve Major Moshe Hisdai, a Palestinian state established in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem would directly endanger Israel’s home front.
In an article he wrote which he is distributing publicly these days, Hisdai, a well-known defense official who conducted numerous investigations of defensive systems and set up a special missions unit in Judea and Samaria, brings quotes by politicians and security officials who have warned in the past of the dangerous impacts a Palestinian state would have on Israel and its citizens. The article in its entirety was presented by Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website on Sunday.
Among the officials quoted in Hisdai’s paper is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself, who in 2006, during a conference of Likud leaders in Kfar Saba, criticized the conduct of then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert had delivered a speech in Sde Boker, in which he offered to free terrorist prisoners and give up large areas of Judea and Samaria for a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu said that concessions such as the ones offered by Olmert would allow Hamas to fire rockets deeper into Israeli territory, with an emphasis on the Ben Gurion International Airport. “Handing over more territories to the Arabs means giving them means for launching missiles at Ben Gurion Airport and at Kfar Saba,” Hisdai quotes Netanyahu as having said during the conference.
“It is no coincidence that Netanyahu chose to emphasize in his speech the missile threat and mentioned not only the Dan region, but the Ben Gurion Airport,” writes Hisdai. “The Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza after the disengagement are considered by the Israeli public as the greatest failure of the Oslo Accords and particularly of Ariel Sharon’s plan. But this threat is now becoming very real, as the proclamation of a Palestinian state draws near.”
Another official quoted by Hisdai is Education Minister Gideon Saar, who declared during a 2006 press conference in Tel Aviv that a withdrawal by Israel to the 1949 Armistice Lines would endanger the security of Israeli citizens. Like Netanyahu, Saar said that doing so will cause a direct threat of rockets being fired on Ben Gurion Airport, and added that it would also endanger Israeli passengers on Route 443 (on which many terror attacks have taken place and which was last year). Saar also noted that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines would essentially bring the Hamas terror group directly into Jerusalem.
Other experts quoted in Hisdai’s paper include Dr. Azriel Lorber of Tel Aviv University, who is an expert on missiles and rockets. Lorber wrote in a study entitled ‘The growing threat of Qassam rockets against Israel’ that “Although ostensibly the Palestinian ‘Intifada’ is directed against ‘the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory,’ Palestinians have no qualms about attacking civilian targets inside Israel proper. In fact, they even prefer that type of warfare over attack military targets in the so-called ‘occupied territories.’”
“From Dr. Azriel Lorber’s study we also learn that the strategic role designated by the Palestinians for the rockets in their possession is similar to that of the Hizbullah rockets on the Israel-Lebanon border,” writes Hisdai. “That is, a weapon of attack and deterrence. There is no doubt that the Palestinians want to see their rockets play a similar role within the Gaza Strip, and in the very near future - along the borders of the Palestinian state - the establishment of which is going to be announced within a few months, and that in preparation for it the two sworn enemies, Hamas and Fatah, come together.”
At the conclusion of his article, Hisdai writes: “Therefore, I ask: Is the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria not a strategic threat to Israel’s existence? Does the establishment of a Palestinian state not mean throwing the residents of Judea and Samaria right into the hands of Hamas and Fatah? Will the residents and communities in Judea and Samaria simply become areas of Palestinian military training for the purposes of conquering Israel with the support of enemy states? Is a well-coordinated attack by Palestinian forces on an isolated Jewish community, or group of communities, in Judea and Samaria, or close by, not enough to constitute a possible scenario of an Itamar massacre two or three times worse?”
Hisdai calls on the Yesha Council to take action and “to protect Israel which is currently in mortal danger. There will be a war over Judea and Samaria because it is a spiritual, educational, Jewish, military and political security belt which protects all the people living in Zion: the rich and the poor, those who are religious and those who are not, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, left and right.”
Hisdai’s article is a follow-up to comments he made to Arutz Sheva about his study several weeks ago.
During the interview Hisdai noted that the Israeli army, government and residents have to be ready in advance for a Palestinian state.
“This is not an apocalyptic scenario, but we must rid ourselves of the viewpoint that such radical scenarios are far-fetched,” he said. “The mindset that we are well-defended is a false one.”