Contradicting Abbas, Hamas says it still believes in ‘armed resistance’ against Israel

Spokesman acknowledges deal with PA chief giving ‘precedence to popular resistance’ within the West Bank

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas militants pray in Rafah, October 2011 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
Hamas militants pray in Rafah, October 2011 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

Hamas continues to believe in armed resistance against Israel, a movement spokesman said Sunday, contradicting a statement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend that the Islamic organization prefers non-violent means to combat Israel.

“We will not accept a return to a third armed Intifada,” Abbas told Israel’s Channel 2 news in an interview broadcast on Friday. “I say with confidence that everyone, including Hamas, agrees to adopt popular, peaceful resistance.”

Asked why, then, Israel continued to suffer rocket fire from Gaza, Abbas said he did not want to defend Hamas but noted that the Islamic organization does not exercise full control over organizations firing missiles from Gaza or from the Sinai Peninsula into Israel. Sometimes, he said, Hamas lost control over other organizations.

But Hamas denied Sunday that any agreement on peaceful resistance was reached with the Palestinian Authority.

“We had agreed to give popular resistance precedence in the West Bank, but this does not come at the expense of armed resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri told the press Sunday. “Abbas is effectively fighting [against] all forms of resistance.”

Abu-Zuhri went on to criticize the PA leader for his willingness in principle to meet with Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz. “All of Abbas’s statements regarding the suspension of negotiations [with Israel] are nothing but [empty] claims,” Abu-Zuhri said. “His insistence on meeting Shaul Mofaz in Ramallah is an affront to the feelings of Palestinians.”

Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah last week against Abbas’s intention to meet Mofaz and against the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel. Some demonstrators and journalists were allegedly severely beaten by PA security forces, claims being investigated by an independent inquiry commission established by Abbas.

Abbas had been set to meet Mofaz last week in Ramallah, but the session was postponed. He said in the interview he was prepared to meet with Mofaz, and indeed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he seemed to attach conditions, including the release of Palestinian prisoners, to a meeting with the prime minister.

During the same interview, Abbas denied telling former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that he could not tell four million Palestinian refugees that only 5,000 of them can return home, a claim she made in her recent book “No Higher Honor” when describing his response to former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace offer.


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