The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group on Tuesday slammed a new policy blueprint issued Monday by the Gaza-based terror organization Hamas, rejecting the paper’s acceptance of a Palestinian state in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
During a meeting with a Palestinian delegation in Lebanon, Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy to Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese terror group’s head, also stressed that the terror group must “liberate” all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, which today includes the Jewish state and the West Bank, according to a report by Israel Radio.
He emphasized that Palestinians should be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel, the radio report said.
The new Hamas policy presents softened language on Israel while still calling for its destruction. While accepting the idea of a Palestinian state in areas captured by Israel in 1967, it dismisses the establishment of the State of Israel as “illegal,” asserting a Palestinian claim to the entire land of Israel and a right of return for all descendants of refugees.
Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine “from the river to the sea,” the document states.
“However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.”
The new platform unveiled Monday was touted as a moderation of the terror group’s previous stance, which did not accept even the temporary idea of a Palestinian state only within the 1967 lines. The document also purged some language deemed anti-Semitic.
Israel dismissed the new document as an attempt to “fool the world.”
For Palestinians, the right to return to homes they fled or were forced out of in 1948 is a prerequisite for any peace agreement.
Israeli governments have rejected the notion of a “right of return” for Palestinians, arguing that a mass influx of Palestinians would spell the end of the Jewish state. Israel has called for Palestinian refugees to be absorbed into a future Palestinian state, just as Israel took in hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa.
Earlier Tuesday, Osama Kawasmehezboll, a spokesman for the Fatah party, which controls the West Bank Palestinian Authority, demanded Hamas apologize to its rival Fatah, saying that the new position was “identical to that taken by Fatah in 1988. Hamas is required to make an apology to Fatah after 30 years of accusing us of treason for that policy.”
In the past, Hamas has sharply criticized Fatah’s political program, which rests on setting up a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War, but allows for the existence of an Israeli state.
The Palestinian Authority’s news agency, Wafa, carried a statement from Fatah on Tuesday which said the Hamas document contained “nothing new,” and that its acceptance of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders was “contrary to its behavior on the ground.”
Political realism was a “good thing” if it was within the framework of national consensus, the statement continued, and if policies were “in harmony with international resolutions and not ambiguous and inconsistent.”
There were no signs that Hamas was moving toward Palestinian national unity, the statement concluded.
Repeated attempts by Hamas and Fatah in recent years to reconcile have failed to secure any progress.
Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has engaged in peace talks with Israel on the basis of seeking a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. although the last, US-mediated round collapsed three years ago.
Abbas is due to meet in Washington with US President Donald Trump Wednesday for their first face-to-face talks, with the PA leader hoping the billionaire businessman’s unpredictable approach can inject life into long-stalled peace efforts.
Agencies contributed to this report.