The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip came out against a foreign military observation force as part of any future peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, saying it would demonstrate the same hostility to international troops as it does to the IDF.
“Any foreign military force that will be deployed to safeguard an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would get the same treatment as [Israel’s] occupying forces,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Friday. Hamas relentlessly seeks to attack Israeli forces, carries out terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, intermittently fires rockets at Israel, and is currently engaged in improving its rocket capabilities and preparing for future rounds of conflict with Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently told The New York Times that he would be willing to accept a NATO peacekeeping presence in a future demilitarized Palestinian state in order to put Israel’s security concerns to rest.
Hamas is avowedly opposed to Israel’s existence and has long been at odds with Abbas’s Fatah, which it brutally forced out of Gaza during its violent takeover of the Strip in 2007.
Abu Zuhri also called on Abbas to terminate US-brokered negotiations with Israel and urged Palestinian factions to unite in opposition to the talks. He said the talks were aimed to “terminate the question of Palestine and what is left of Palestinian rights and principles.”
“Nobody authorized you to speak in the name of the people, in the name of Hamas or in the name of any other faction,” the Hamas spokesman said, addressing Abbas. “Why don’t you tell the truth regarding what is taking place in the secret talks? If you are sincere, come out to your people. Tell them the truth and give them details.”
Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed peace talks in late July 2013, but the negotiations have yet to yield any substantive results. The two sides agreed to nine months of talks which are set to end at the end of April. US Secretary of State John Kerry is working on a “framework” agreement designed to keep the talks going past that deadline.
The Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, said Saturday that his Islamist group would not be bound by any such framework agreement.
Speaking in the Hamas-controlled territory, Haniyeh said that the deal Kerry is formulating is an agreement to perpetuate the occupation of Palestinian land.
“We will not concede a foot of Palestinian land or on a single right of the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh said.
Fatah responded to Hamas’s statements by saying the Islamists’ stance on both peace talks and a NATO peacekeeping force is harmful, and that it was playing into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hands. It said in a statement that any third-party force would not harm Palestinian sovereignty.
“Such statements only serve the interests of those who do not wish to see Palestinian freedom and independence,” Fatah said.