Sinwar: Our Goal is to Wipe Israel not Recognize it

Ramallah- Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar has stated that the time to discuss the recognition of Israel as a state had elapsed, saying the movement is instead debating “when to wipe out Israel.”

Sinwar was responding to the US stance that rejects any Palestinian reconciliation without Hamas recognizing the state of Israel as a main condition in any future Palestinian government. This was disapproved by both Hamas and Fatah.

“Gone are the days of Hamas (discussing) the recognition of Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel,” Sinwar said.

“Disarming us is like Satan dreaming of heaven. No one can take away our weapons,” he added.

Sinwar stated that the US-Israeli stance will make the future stage more difficult but Hamas won’t back off from the reconciliation.

His comments followed the statement of US special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, who said: “The United States reiterates the importance of adhering to the principles of the Quartet for the Middle East: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations.”

“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” he added.

“Hamas must recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease terrorism as per the Quartet’s terms, dismantle its military wing, release the Israeli soldiers who have been held in Gaza and cut its ties with Iran,” announced the Israeli security cabinet.

Hamas considered Greenblatt’s statement a blatant interference in Palestinian affairs, while Fatah Revolutionary Council Secretary Majed al-Fatyani expressed rejection to the US stance.

Fatah sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement will not ask Hamas to recognize Israel because it hasn’t done so either.

US Says Palestinian Unity Cabinet Must Recognize Israel, Hamas Snaps Back

US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations said Thursday that an emerging Palestinian unity government must recognize Israel and disarm Hamas movement.

Jason Greenblatt, who has repeatedly visited the region to seek ways to restart peace talks, laid out a series of conditions in Washington’s first detailed response to the landmark reconciliation deal signed between Hamas and Fatah last week. 

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties -– including to disarm terrorists — and commit to peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” he added.

But his statement drew an immediate retort from Hamas.

Bassem Naim, an official from the movement, rejected the comments as “blatant interference” in Palestinian affairs, but did not say directly whether the group planned to comply with any of the demands.

Naim accused the US of adopting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions.

“This is blatant interference in Palestinian affairs because it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests,” Naim told AFP.

“This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas in Cairo a week ago aimed at ending a bitter 10-year split.

Under the deal, the Palestinian Authority – currently dominated by Fatah – is due to resume control of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip by December 1.

Talks are also expected on forming a unity government, with another meeting between the various Palestinian political factions scheduled for November 21.

A major sticking point is expected to be Hamas’ refusal to disarm its 25,000-strong armed wing.

Israel Refuses to Negotiate with Palestinian Government ‘Dependent on Hamas’

Tel-Aviv – Following long discussions and sharp disputes over the stance towards the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, the Israeli cabinet announced on Tuesday its rejection to negotiate with a Palestinian government “dependent on Hamas”, which Israel describes as “a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction” of the country.
 
The statement followed comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he said that his government would neither try to prevent the implementation of the Palestinian agreement, nor would it cut relations with the Authority.
 
The Israeli government stressed that Hamas should recognize Israel and renounce terrorism in accordance with the Quartet’s conditions. It also demanded the disarming of Hamas, the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the recent war, and the release of two citizens held by the movement in the Gaza Strip.
 
The government added to these conditions, which Netanyahu had put forward following the signing of the reconciliation agreement last week, the necessity that the Palestinian Authority extend its full security control over the Gaza Strip, including the crossings, and prevent arms smuggling there.
 
It also called for thwarting the Hamas-terrorist network in the West Bank and cutting relations between the movement and Iran.
 
Israel’s security cabinet, which convened on Monday evening, conducted lengthy research on the reconciliation agreement, after which Netanyahu declared that Israel would neither recognize nor accept the agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas.
 
However, he said that he would “not try to prevent its implementation on the ground, and will not cut relations with the Authority.”
 
Netanyahu told his ministers that should the reconciliation agreement be implemented and PA officials return to the civil administration offices in Gaza and control the border crossings, “we must work with them, because this serves the Israeli interests in preventing a humanitarian crisis and improving the living conditions of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”

Trump’s Strategy Includes Restricting Iran’s Support for ‘Hezbollah,’ Hamas

Trump

Riyadh, London – US President Donald Trump’s strategy to neutralize Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region includes curbing its support for terrorist organizations and militants in the Middle East and Afghanistan, a US official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official at the US State Department said that the strategy included four key elements or objectives.

He pointed out that the first strategic goal is “to neutralize the destabilizing activities by Iran, especially its support for terrorism and insurgents, with a focus on its activities in the Middle East in particular and also in Afghanistan.”

Earlier this week, Trump announced the possibility of terminating the Iranian nuclear deal once and for all, because he was “tired of achieving benefits at [his] country’s expenses”. The European Union, for its part, called on the US Congress to maintain the agreement.

Trump’s new strategy – according to the US official – includes putting an end to Iran’s subversive activities in Syria and its support for terrorism through groups such as “Hezbollah”, Hamas, the Taliban and Iraqi Shi’ite factions, noting that Tehran was seeking to fuel ethnic and sectarian strife in Iraq.

The US president said on Monday that a total termination of the Iran nuclear deal was a very real possibility.

“It might be a total termination. That’s a very real possibility,” Trump said before a Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday welcomed European support for the nuclear deal between his country and international powers.

Rouhani said in a statement on the Iranian presidency website that the consensus on the support for the agreement, especially by the Europeans, “is an important political achievement for Iran,” according to the German news agency.

Following a closed-door meeting on Monday, EU foreign ministers appealed to the US Congress to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran and avoid a return to the sanctions option.

“This agreement is necessary for the security of the region,” EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said, without elaborating on the role the EU could play in countering Iran’s regional activities.

Abbas Opens Recruitment for Security Services in Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Ramallah- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opened the door to recruitment in the Gaza Strip, in a move that would rearrange the security services in the sector.

Member of Fatah Central Committee Hussein Sheikh said that Abbas signed the decision to open the recruitment in the Gaza Strip to restructure the security establishment, noting that a number of security leaders in the West Bank would head to Gaza in the coming days in order to oversee the structure of the security services there.

“We want a security institution committed to the basic law of the State of Palestine, and its doctrine is to protect the national project and the political program of the Palestinian legitimacy,” he added.

Abbas’ decision came ahead of scheduled meetings with security officials from the West Bank and others from the Gaza Strip, in order to arrange security in the sector.

Sources close to the matter told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the president’s decision would entail “rebuilding the security services and getting rid of any burden.”

“The decision was made in coordination with the Egyptians. They have been informed,” the sources added.

They went on to say that a large number of the PA’s military personnel would be referred to retirement.

“This may also apply to the Hamas military, and then the remainder will be chosen as the nucleus of the new forces in Gaza,” the sources explained.

The Authority plans to attract some 5,000 new recruits in the Gaza Strip. The applicant must be Palestinian holding a Palestinian identity, between the age of 18 and 22. He must not be sentenced to a felony or misdemeanor. He should have a good appearance and have passed the initial medical examination, and not being separated from his previous service by disciplinary decision.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions gather thousands of armed men in Gaza. The weapons of these groups were not discussed during the rounds of Palestinian dialogue in Cairo. It was only agreed that peace and war would be based on a joint decision and that weapons remain in hideouts to be used when needed.

General Director of Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority Arrives in Gaza

Palestinian

Ramallah – Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority began assuming its duties of managing Gaza’s crossings, according to the Palestinian Public Works Minister Mufeed al-Hasaynah.

Hasaynah spoke during a meeting with General Director of Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority Nazmi Muhanna, Hamas Head of National Security Maj-Gen Tawfiq Abu Naim, Head of Gaza Civil Affairs Saleh al-Zeq, Director of Gaza Crossings Raed Fattouh. He explained that the committee began assuming its duties and the work began backed by everyone’s determination to succeed in this.

Muhanna told journalists that he had been sent by president Mahmud Abbas to implement the “first step” in the reconciliation agreement, “the taking over of the crossings.”

He said he was hopeful that in talks with Hamas they would agree on handing over the borders quickly.
The crossings have been one of the issues that long hindered previous agreements due the authority’s desire to completely control it, and Hamas’ insistence on co-managing the crossings. However, Hamas agreed this time to hand the crossings over to the government.

All crossings are meant to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority by the beginning of November ahead of the full transfer of power on first of December.

However, Hamas was not pleased with PA focusing on the crossings rather than other issues.

Hamas member of political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk criticized statements of several officials concerning issues like the employees or security, saying “they don’t promise good.”

Hamas’ spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum also condemned Abbas’ for keeping his measures against Gaza and blatant denial of reconciliation requirements.

“The failure of [Palestinian] Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to respond affirmatively to the popular and national demands to cancel his arbitrary measures against our people in Gaza is unjustifiable and a clear denial of the demands of reconciliation. He must bear responsibility for exacerbating the people’s suffering and crises,” said Barhoum.

Sami Abu Zahri, also Hamas’ spokesperson, said that it is unjustifiable to maintain the measures on Gaza.

Zahri tweeted that the government only talks about handing the crossings and digging for gas.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that despite the dissolving of the administrative committee in Gaza and the agreement, the president has no intention of end his punitive measures. The sources added that Abbas would like to see how things go first in Gaza.

Abbas is in no hurry and would like to make sure the reconciliation is not just another agreement, according to the sources.

Fatah held a meeting chaired by Mahmoud Abbas during which the movement discussed Egypt-sponsored talks and reiterated its determination to re-establish national unity.

The movement issued a statement following he meeting stating the importance of full commitment to the primary law, protect the democratic political system, and maintain the Palestinian national independent decision.

The central committee lauded the Egyptian leadership for its efforts and distinguished role in achieving the agreement in Cairo. The committee also commended the efforts and support of Arab leaderships such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Hamas Runs a Regional PR Campaign

Fatah’s Azam al-Ahmad (right) and Saleh al-Aruri of Hamas kiss after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Thursday.

Ramallah- Gaza ruling party Hamas is steadily on the track of restoring its ties with former allies while maintaining current friends. The move by no means is risk-free, as conflict pits parties Hamas views as valuable against each other.

It is no secret that the Islamist movement, which lost allies and won others, is planning broader and better relations with Egypt. It looks forward to opening up as much as possible to Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But it also strives to do the same with Qatar and Turkey, and to restore ties with Iran and Hezbollah, and perhaps the Syrian regime at a later date.

Officially, Hamas says it wants to maintain advanced relations with all Arabs in the region, as well as other countries, so long that it serves the best interest of the Palestinian cause.

Many Hamas officials, including Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal, confirmed that this goes beyond playing along politics axes.

Hamas-affiliated writer and political analyst Ibrahim Madhoun said the movement will partially succeed in its endeavors.

“There are countries and people who understand the positions of the movement and there are other countries that are conservative, but this will not push Hamas to take a hostile stance or to back down,” said Madhoun.

“The movement will try to knock on these doors, and open areas with everyone in one way or another, especially central countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Egypt, as they stand to be the real supporter of the Palestinian cause,” he added.

According to Madhoun, “Hamas’ response to Egyptian efforts was not at the expense of Turkey or Qatar or of any other party, and neither will contact with Tehran be at the expense of Riyadh or the Gulf.”

“I believe that talking to Russia does not mean antagonizing the United States, although the latter takes a negative attitude. There are efforts by Hamas to infiltrate the American wall itself.”

Contacts made by the head of Hamas’ political bureau in the last two days, made it clear that Hamas actually tried to communicate with all sides openly as if it were sending out a message in every direction in this regard.

Palestinian Authority to Take Control of Gaza Crossings in November

Gaza

Leading member of the Hamas movement, Saleh al-Arouri, announced on Saturday that the Palestinian Authority will be handed control of the Gaza Strip crossings in early November.

Arouri was part of the delegation that signed the reconciliation with the Fatah group in Cairo on Thursday.

The Gaza crossings was a thorny issues at the talks because Hamas has had control of them for the past ten years.

Arouri told al-Quds newspaper that Hamas and Fatah agreed to hold “deep and detailed” discussions in Gaza between security officials from both factions.

The security forces in Gaza will remain as they are until an agreement is reached over a mechanism to merge them, he explained. This will help avoid any “security vacuum.”

The reconciliation called for the merger of the security and police forces in Gaza and the West Bank in a manner that would ensure their unity and that they adhere to the Interior Ministry.

Asked if the agreement means that Hamas will abandon its armed resistance, Arouri replied: “Partnership means partnership in decisions of war and peace.”

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip after bloody clashes with Fatah in 2007.

On September 17, Hamas dissolved the administrative committee that had taken over the role of the government in Gaza to pave the way for the return of the Palestinian cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah, to the coastal strip.

The Cairo-sponsored reconciliation, signed on October 12, is expected to end the ten-year divide between the two factions.

The agreement calls for forming a national unity government and preparing for holding legislative and presidential elections. It also calls for establishing joint committees to take in the 45,000 civil and military employees Hamas hired at public institutions.

US, Egypt Urge Israel against ‘Sabotaging’ Palestinian Reconciliation

reconciliation

Tel Aviv, Washington – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received firm messages from the United States and Egypt leaderships, demanding him against “sabotaging” the Palestinian reconciliation deal, political sources in Tel Aviv revealed.

Chances should be given to allow the deal to be a success, they said.

They noted that at first glance, it appears that the PM’s reaction to the reconciliation is negative because he has been demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

He has also been demanding that Hamas be stripped of its weapons and sever ties with Iran.

The sources said that this response is in fact a “moderate” one.

In his first reaction, Netanyahu had said that “we will not accept a fake reconciliation where Palestinians will reach an agreement at the expense of our existence.”

He later added however: “Israel will study the developments on the ground and work accordingly.”

An official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry underlined the premier’s “remarkable” diplomatic rhetoric, while the political sources attributed his position to his desire against harming ties with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

He is also aware that the US administration of President Donald Trump welcomed Cairo’s sponsoring of the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Furthermore, Netanyahu realizes that the Palestinian Authority’s return to Gaza, even partially, will serve Israel’s security interest.

Observers believe that Netanyahu was forced to take a more lenient stand, but he is still “unconvinced” of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

The premier and other officials in his government are concerned with the reconciliation possible longevity because the Palestinian division had greatly benefited Israel.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett went so far as to describe the government that will be established through the agreement as a “terrorism unity cabinet.”

Other observers said that the reconciliation will be short-lived due to ongoing Palestinian and Arab differences.

Alex Fishman of Yedioth Ahronoth said: “The Cairo talks left Hamas with its tunnels, labs, weapons factories, drones and with the Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades and their naval commandos. In fact, Hamas’s military wing remains as it were—under the direct and exclusive command of Hamas.

“This is why Israel views the agreement signed on Thursday as one that has no chance of being realized, so there’s no reason to even waste energy on trying to sabotage it. Especially as both the American administration and the Egyptians have asked Israel not to interfere,” he noted in an oped on Friday.

King Salman Congratulates Palestinian President on Reconciliation Agreement

Riyadh- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has congratulated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the reconciliation agreement struck between Fatah and Hamas movements in Cairo this week.

King Salman received on Friday a telephone call from Abbas who briefed him on the reconciliation deal.

During the conversation, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that unity is the roadmap to enabling the Palestinian government to serve its people.

He also lauded the efforts of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his government in striking the agreement.

For his part, Abbas expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his noble feelings and the support the Palestinian people receive from the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the era of late King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman to date.

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the reconciliation deal.

The source reaffirmed the Kingdom’s hope that this significant breakthrough would fulfill aspirations of the Palestinian people for achieving national unity and ending Palestinian internal division, in order to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights, in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy and Arab Peace Initiative.