The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has denounced statements made by U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, who called on the Gaza-based group to disarm as part of the Palestinian Unity Government agreement and said that Palestine must recognize Israel.
Demanding what essentially would be the complete surrender of Hamas, Greenblatt demanded that “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.”
Hamas slammed the statement as an intolerable intervention into Palestinian internal matters and a clear sign that the White House is bowing to Tel Aviv’s pressure.
“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,” senior Hamas official and head of the Council on International Relations Bassem Naim told AFP.
He noted that Greenblatt’s statement came “under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago.”
Greenblatt is an aggressive supporter of settler-colonial annexations of occupied Palestinian lands and former chief legal officer in The Trump Organization. He is reportedly unaccountable to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and reports directly to President Donald Trump and the U.S. leader’s 36-year-old son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
The comments echo similar statements by hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spelled out seven conditions for continuing peace talks with a united Palestinian government. The demands include recognizing Israel’s legitimacy and abandoning arms, severing ties with Iran, returning the bodies of Israeli soldiers and releasing Israeli prisoners Tel Aviv alleges are alive and being held in Gaza. The Israelis are also demanding that the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas assume full security control of the coastal enclave.
The demands include recognizing Israel’s legitimacy as “the Jewish State” and abandoning arms, severing ties with Iran, returning the bodies of Israeli soldiers and releasing Israeli prisoners Tel Aviv alleges are alive and being held in Gaza. The Israelis are also demanding that the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas assume full security control of the coastal enclave.
Hamas and Ramallah-based Fatah dismissed the threats, reaffirming that Israel’s stance would not deter Palestine’s resolve to achieve national unity.
Under the reconciliation deal, about 3,000 Fatah security officers are to join the Gaza police force but Hamas will remain the most powerful armed Palestinian faction in the territory, with some 25,000 well-equipped militants Qassem Brigade remaining operational.
Abbas’ Fatah party lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after refusing to recognize Hamas’ victory in parliamentary elections. An abortive coup attempt backed by Washington and Tel Aviv led by Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan led to a bloody struggle, from which Hamas emerged victorious. Since then, the 2 million people of Gaza have faced three devastating wars launched by Israeli occupation authorities and a crippling blockade by Egypt and the Israelis.
Since then, the 2 million people of Gaza have faced three devastating wars launched by Israeli occupation authorities and a crippling blockade by Tel Aviv and Cairo.
The reconciliation comes amid a changed dynamic in relations between the right-wing administrations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump.
While Trump has said it would be “nice” if the Israelis held back from expanding settlements, he has also said that his administration “very, very strongly” backs Tel Aviv’s exclusive claim to the contested city of Jerusalem, where he would “love” to see a U.S. embassy built.
The U.S. president has also broken with previous positions of successive administrations by breezily remarking that future peace deals between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis countries can result in “two-state (or) one-state … I like the one that both parties like.”
The U.S. Secretary of State’s office announced that the U.S. and Israel plan to deepen relations following the Monday’s 32nd session of the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group, an annual economic planning meeting between the two countries.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has refused to abandon his movement’s identity as a resistance movement, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state “on the full Palestinian soil with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their lands and homes.”