by Bassam Tawil
Is the world drawing wrong and dangerous conclusions regarding the meaning and ramifications of the recent accord between Hamas and the PA?
- Leaders of Hamas maintain that under no circumstances will they agree to lay down their weapons. Hamas is, in fact, continuing full-speed-ahead digging tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas is planning to use the tunnels to smuggle armed terrorists into Israel.
- The accord with Hamas requires Mahmoud Abbas to lift the sanctions he recently imposed on the Gaza Strip, such as refusing to pay Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. It also requires Abbas to resume payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinians who served time in Israeli prison for terror-related offenses.
- Above all, Hamas wants to use the agreement to be removed from the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations.
- The Russians are closing their ears to what Hamas itself declares day after day: that its true goal is to eliminate Israel and that it has no intention of abandoning its murderous, genocidal agenda.
While some Western analysts have misinterpreted the agreement as a sign that Hamas is moving towards moderation and pragmatism, leaders of the Islamist movement maintain that under no circumstances will they agree to lay down their weapons. Hamas is, in fact, continuing full-speed-ahead digging tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas is planning to use the tunnels to smuggle armed terrorists into Israel.
Just last week, two Hamas terrorists were killed when the tunnels in which they were working collapsed, in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip. The terrorists were identified as Khalil Al-Dumyati and Yusef Abu Abed.
The news about the collapse of the tunnels coincided with the reports of the new "reconciliation" agreement reached in Cairo between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). This means that while the Egyptians and Abbas's representatives were discussing with Hamas leaders ways of ending their 10-year-long dispute and achieving "national unity," Hamas terrorists were busy tunneling under the Gaza Strip to prepare for attacks on Israel.
Pictured: On October 17, 2013, then U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visited a tunnel penetrating Israel from Gaza, which had been discovered by the Israeli army. Shapiro said: "I was shocked from what I saw in the tunnel. It is clear that this tunnel has only one purpose: to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers." (Image source: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
In other words, this agreement benefits Hamas by absolving it of its responsibilities toward the two million Palestinians living under its control in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the agreement emboldens Hamas by allowing it to redirect its resources and energies towards amassing weapons and digging tunnels to be used for launching terror attacks against Israel. The accord requires Abbas to lift the sanctions he recently imposed on the Gaza Strip, such as refusing to pay Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza, reducing medical supplies and forcing thousands of civil servants in the Gaza Strip into early retirement. It also requires Abbas to resume payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinians who served time in Israeli prison for terror-related offenses. All this in return for one "concession" on the part of Hamas: dismantling the shadow government it established in the Gaza Strip a few months ago -- something to which Hamas happily agreed in return for Abbas lifting the sanctions.
Make no mistake: Hamas has no intention of relinquishing security control over the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Hamas "security officers" and members of its military wing, Ezaddin Al-Kassam, will remain the law-enforcement force in the Gaza Strip. This means that even if Abbas's government will be allowed to operate in the Gaza Strip, it would have limited civilian powers only, such as paying salaries and funding various projects.
One week after the Cairo "reconciliation" agreement, Hamas is still urging Abbas to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip. Why the rush? Jihad against Israel is calling. Hamas's message to Abbas: Hurry up and give us the funds because we need to invest our energies and money in building more tunnels and smuggling weapons (through Egypt) into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has been seeking international recognition and legitimacy and is hoping that the agreement with Abbas's Palestinian Authority will facilitate this mission. Above all, Hamas wants to use the agreement to be removed from the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations.
This position was relayed last week to the Russian government by a senior Hamas delegation that visited Moscow. Hamas is hoping that in wake of the Egyptian-sponsored agreement with the PA, the Russians will exert pressure on the U.S. to remove Hamas from the terror list.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official who participated in the Moscow discussions, confirmed that he and his friends had asked the Russians for their help. "We asked the Russians to help stop the US from keeping Hamas on the (terror) list," Abu Marzouk said. "We also asked that the Russians help remove the (Israeli and Egyptian) blockade on the Gaza Strip." Abu Marzouk and the Hamas delegation appear to have found a sympathetic ear in Moscow. They now claim that the Russians told them that Moscow does not consider Hamas a terror organization "because Hamas won a free and fair (parliamentary) election in 2006."
If true, the Russians seem to have bought the lie that Hamas is headed towards moderation and pragmatism, supposedly thanks to the latest "reconciliation" agreement. More disturbing still, concerning the reported Russian position, is that Moscow, it seems, does not view Hamas as a terror group; the reason for this omission is apparently that Hamas "won" an election. The Russians are ignoring the fact that since Hamas won in 2006, the terror movement has launched thousands of rocket and other terror attacks against Israel. The Russians are also ignoring Hamas's continued buildup and preparation for war by digging tunnels and amassing weapons in the Gaza Strip. More significantly, the Russians are closing their ears to what Hamas itself declares day after day: that its true goal is to eliminate Israel and that it has no intention of abandoning its murderous, genocidal agenda.
How do the Russians and the rest of the world define "non-negotiable"? The same way as Abu Marzouk after the Moscow visit, with regards to the Hamas weapons: "The weapons of the resistance belong to all the Palestinians and are non-negotiable," Abu Marzouk emphasized. "No one can tamper with this issue."
The statement means that Hamas insists on maintaining its terror and military capabilities in preparation for war against Israel.
At the risk of overwhelming the international community with troubling facts, here is a final one: Hamas aims to use the agreement with the Palestinian Authority as a smokescreen for concealing its true goal: the destruction of Israel.
Here is how it works: Hamas is telling Abbas, "You continue to pretend as if you want to talk peace with the Jews, while we prepare for war."
In the eyes of Hamas, the "reconciliation" agreement should serve as functional sharing between the PA and Hamas, with each side playing the role it wants. Abbas will go on pretending he wants peace, while Hamas builds more tunnels and acquires additional weapons. That is their real agenda: Hamas wants to collaborate with Abbas in fooling the world. Abbas's job will be to "pursue peace" and rake in the money, while Hamas plans for the next round of terrorism against the Jews.
It remains to be seen whether the Western-funded Palestinian Authority will be complicit in this scheme to scam the world. Also interesting should be seeing whether the international community will once again fall into the web of lies woven by the master manipulators, Abbas and Hamas.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
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