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United They Shoot

July 2, 2014
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Israel Threatened by Palestinian Unity

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President Photo credit: wikipedia.com

It was one of the most dangerous handshakes in modern history. Normally, handshakes are identified with peace. World leaders at peace conferences symbolically bridge their differences by pressing flesh. But the agreement that reunited the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah was anything but peaceful. It is an unholy union of animosity and rage, and it might just prove to be the greatest threat Israel has faced in years.

Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Photo credit: Trango/wikipedia.org

The unity of the Hamas terrorist group and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction is an alliance of open violence and political hypocrisy, of explicit and implicit hate. Hamas represents the modern terrorist political movement, not unlike the ayatollahs in Iran, Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Hizbullah in Lebanon. Fatah is the manipulative backstabber—always doing just enough to stay in the world’s good graces, while slowly eroding Israel’s standing and security. In many ways, they are similar to the insidious communists that overtook Cuba, North Korea and China. And thanks to this reconciliation of Hamas’ weapons with Fatah’s scheming, Israel is threatened physically and politically. As a result, Israel and her friends are going to have to support and defend her more than ever.

The Paired Threat

To better understand the threat posed by Fatah and Hamas together, we must first consider what they have meant to Israel separately. For Fatah, that takes a close look to see through all the smoke and mirrors. As the driving force behind the Palestinian government (Palestinian Authority or PA) and their foreign relations body (the Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO), Fatah has proven to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing towards Israel.

Photo credit: Faberr Ink/shutterstock

Over the last seven years, Fatah has started and ended multiple peace processes with Israel—and that’s the least duplicitous of their actions. They have published anti-Israel incitement, while also announcing limited compromises with Israel. They have named locations after terrorists, while helping Israel catch terrorist wannabes. They have joined peace conferences and yet tried to circumvent a peace deal by achieving statehood through the United Nations. It has been an uneven status quo, but it has been sustainable…until now.

If Fatah has been inconsistent and hypocritical, Hamas has generally been brutally honest. With the exception of some sporadic ambiguous comments from Hamas officials that make it sound like they could live in peace with Israel, Hamas generally has made their intentions very clear. They claim all of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They reject the peace process. And they believe terrorism, what they call “armed resistance,” is a primary means towards achieving their goals. Don’t believe me? Listen to them in their own words.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh Photo credit: www.IDFblog.com

The website of the Hamas military wing, the Izzadeen al-Qassam Brigades, paraphrased the words of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh last March as follows: He “stressed that no negotiations, agreements, or bargaining would make our people forsake their right to historical Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”

But wait, there’s more. Hamas shares its hate of Israel with Iran. The Ma’an News Agency quoted senior Hamas party leader Ahmad Yousef as saying last summer, “For sure we hope that the Iranian support will continue, especially that Hamas encourages Iran against Israel.” That would be the same Iran that has termed Israel’s political existence a “cancer” and wants it to be wiped off the face of the earth.

And back in 2012, Hamas’ leader, Khaled Mashaal, issued a diatribe against Israel that included the following:

“Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land. We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.” -Quote from a report by the Ma’an News Agency

Photo credit: DVARG/shutterstock.com

“The armed resistance is the real and the right way to liberate the land and restore the rights.” -Quote from the Hamas military wing website

And lest we think that political involvement will moderate Hamas, don’t forget that Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and launched the first of three major military confrontations with Israel after they won elections in 2006. Hamas has fired rockets at Israel’s major cities and launched an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus—after they took responsibility for the Gaza Strip. They have supported or sponsored open warfare against Israel off and on for more than two decades—including a major conflict as recently as the end of 2012.

In other words, Hamas has no intention of genuinely compromising and has repeatedly made that clear. Hate isn’t a disease in Hamas—it’s the group’s backbone. And now, that hate is united with Fatah’s global political standing and good graces. In one fell swoop, Hamas has managed to give some Western leaders amnesia and possibly forget all the above quotes and actions, just because of a few handshakes with Fatah officials. The Fatah sham that kept the wool over the eyes of the US and Europe for years has achieved its greatest deception. And Israel is the worse for it.

The Political Threat

For years Fatah has cultivated a plot to threaten Israel politically. It began with agreements between Israel, themselves and the United States that granted the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid and limited Palestinian autonomy in select areas—and only required nice words from the Palestinians. Fatah continued by making deceptive statements condemning violence even as their media continued to spew hate and promote dead terrorists. And then in 2011, the Palestinians started in earnest to attack Israel politically by seeking statehood at the United Nations.

The ultimate goal, and threat, of UN-recognized Palestinian statehood is that the Palestinians could then turn to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague and seek to try Israeli soldiers and government officials for fake war crimes. Even if the false charges were ultimately thrown out, it could cost Israel untold expenses in legal fees, international isolation and political sanctions. If Israeli political figures have already been harassed and businesses boycotted in the United Kingdom and elsewhere already, one can only imagine the political assault that would be leveled at Israel then.

Along the way, Fatah has promoted a powerful network of grassroots activists and political figures. While Israel and its supporters also have influence, the Palestinian movement has grown in strength in the last couple decades. In fact, thanks to political shifts in the US and Europe, one could even say that the Palestinians wield more power today than they ever have. And the proof of that is in how the US responded to the Fatah reconciliation with Hamas.

Photo credit: www.idfblog

The United States technically has laws on the books that make it difficult, if not impossible, to fund Palestinian governments which include Hamas terrorists. The US, remember, has actually designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. They are also a part of the Mideast Quartet, including the European Union and the UN, which has demanded that Hamas renounce violence and adhere to the Palestinian agreements with Israel. Yet despite the fact that Hamas has not done any of that, and recently actually reiterated their violent disdain for Israel in the quotes cited above, the American response to the Fatah–Hamas alliance was muted at best.

“Moving forward, we will be judging this government by its actions. Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but we’ll be watching closely to ensure that it upholds the principles that President Abbas reiterated today,” said spokesperson Jen Psaki in comments released by the State Department, just hours after the Palestinian deal was finalized.

The Obama administration later tailored their wishy-washy sentiment with the technicality that Hamas officials are not a part of the Palestinian interim government. This, of course, ignores the fact that Hamas helped form the government. As of the writing of this article, the American funding of the Palestinians remains up in the air. But the fact that the US did not reject the Palestinian unity government, despite Hamas’ clear influence in it, demonstrates just how effective the Fatah spin-and-lies machine has become.

This, of course, raises the specter of Fatah using their influence to hamper and politically condemn Israel’s counterterrorism and anti-smuggling efforts on Hamas, not to mention rebranding Hamas from terrorists to legitimized “freedom fighters.” But that’s not even the worst part.

The Physical Threat

Photo credit: Oleg Zabielin/shutterstock.com

Hamas and their Iranian patrons have long wanted to attack Israel from the heart of Israeli territory in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Years ago, an American counterterrorism report showed that Iran was trying to support terror in that region, and Hamas has been trying to reassert themselves there for years. A key part of Fatah’s security assistance to Israel was arresting Hamas personnel in Judea and Samaria. But with Fatah now friendly to Hamas, one can only wonder if Hamas will be freer to roam in Judea and Samaria. And with their reconciliation with Iran, this could be the opportunity Iran has wanted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu certainly underscored the threat in comments released by his office in early June: “Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken. Instead of the Palestinian Authority taking over Gaza, the signs are being more and more seen that the complete opposite is taking place, i.e. that Hamas is increasing its control in the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria.”

Hamas’ evil intentions regarding Judea and Samaria were demonstrated in attempted terror attacks and the set up of terror cells there. Thankfully, as Ynet and other new sources revealed, Israel repeatedly prevented those threats from truly materializing. But again, they had help from Fatah. While not friends with Israel, Fatah hated Hamas more as their political rival. Now? It’s anyone’s guess what will ultimately happen, especially since one of the main disruptions to past Palestinian reconciliation efforts was the handling of political prisoners. In other words, Fatah will have to be careful not to upset Hamas too much with police raids.

9-year-old Osher Twito from Sderot lost part of his leg when a Kassam exploded near him. Photo credit: Edi Israel/wikipedia.org

Hamas, according to Ynet, has held interest in establishing influence in Jerusalem. With Fatah’s assistance, that will be more likely. And what would that mean? Remember Hamas has already launched attacks at major Israeli cities from the isolated Gaza Strip. Imagine home-made rockets fired from the Judean hillside at Jerusalem shopping centers or Ben Gurion International Airport. Just because Israel is in control of large portions of Judea and Samaria, don’t think that Hamas won’t be able to launch attacks. It will be harder than in Gaza, but Hamas already has to circumvent significant anti-smuggling efforts and Israeli military might and intelligence to get weapons into Gaza. It’s not impossible.

And what if Hamas strikes at Israel? Will the international community give Israel any leeway to defend itself, or will Fatah’s falsified political legitimacy be used as cover for Hamas as well—something akin to the “it’s their military wing, not their political wing” argument used for Hizbullah? And if Hamas earns more legitimacy themselves, will that not open up more weapons markets and military opportunities? In other words, the threat of two divided enemies of Israel is nothing compared to the threat of them united.

Your Response

How you support Israel is all the more critical in the days and weeks ahead. Someone has to speak out against Hamas’ hate and keep it before the eyes of legislators and global officials. Email or call your government representative, and make it clear your nation cannot support a Palestinian government backed by terrorists. Similarly, continue to support pro-Israel groups as they help Israel improve their political, physical, medical and economic security. Last, but not least, support Israeli companies as unfair boycotts continue to mount against them. In other words, be a friend to Israel. At a time when two of their main enemies have rekindled their friendship, Israel needs allies of her own. In the wake of a back-stabbing Palestinian handshake, Israel could use a helping hand.

Source: By Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update

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