Hamas chief: US sees Jerusalem suburb as future Palestinian capital

Ismail Haniyeh says alleged American peace plan would include building a bridge between Abu Dis and the Temple Mount

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press at the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on September 19, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press at the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on September 19, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The leader of the Hamas terrorist group on Tuesday claimed the United States is formulating a peace plan that would offer the Palestinians a suburb of Jerusalem in the West Bank as the capital of their future state.

Ismail Haniyeh also said that as part of the plan, Abu Dis — which lies east of Israel’s security barrier and outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundary — would be connected to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City by a bridge, according to the Middle East Eye.

“The plan involves building a bridge linking Abu Dis to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with the ostensible aim of ensuring [Palestinians] access to the mosque,” the news site quoted Haniyeh as telling Gaza tribal leaders.

Haniyeh’s reference to Abu Dis came after The New York Times reported earlier this month that a Saudi peace proposal presented to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas included establishing the capital of a future Palestinian state in Abu Dis rather than in the heart of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.

In response to the report, Riyadh insisted it remained committed to its own longstanding Arab Peace Initiative, which would include an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem in exchange for normalization with the Arab world.

Abu Dis (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Haniyeh also claimed the plan envisions dividing the Temple Mount — which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque — into “three separate parts” and said the Gaza Strip would be an autonomous region within a Palestinian state.

Haniyeh said his terror group had received information about the alleged plan, but didn’t say where the details came from.

Recognizing a ‘Jewish’ state

The Hamas leader also alleged US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “part of ongoing efforts to terminate the Palestinian cause within the context of a so-called ‘deal of the century.'”

He said the move “has implications for the reconfiguration of the entire region and the [Arab and Muslim] nation[s],” which he claimed “will come at the expense of Jerusalem and Palestinian rights.”

Yahya Sinwar (C-L) and Ismail Haniyeh (C-R) attend a meeting with Palestinian tribal leaders in Gaza City on December 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Since the December 6 declaration on Jerusalem, Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has called on Palestinians to protest along the Gaza fence with Israel, enabled thousands of Gaza to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border, and urged a fresh violent intifada to liberate Jerusalem.

Haniyeh’s latest claims concerning American intentions come just days after he said the Trump administration may follow up its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, even though the US has always done so.

“We have information that the US administration may recognize Israel as a Jewish state, [let Israel] annex settlements, and abolish the Palestinian right to return,” said Haniyeh, whose Islamist terror group seeks to destroy Israel.

The Palestinian demand for a “right of return” of millions of refugees and their descendants to Israel has been rejected by all Israeli governments, since such an influx would destroy Israel’s Jewish majority. Israel’s position has generally been that the fate of the refugees is to be negotiated in final status talks on Palestinian statehood, and that a Palestinian state would absorb Palestinian refugees, as the state of Israel absorbed Jewish refugees.

The UN’s 1947 partition plan specifically referred to a Jewish state and an Arab state.

Hours after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the US recognized it as a Jewish state. The White House stated: “This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel.”

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is a step Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long demanded the Palestinians must take for there to be peace.

The Palestinians have refused, and Palestinian politicians and media routinely deny the historical Jewish connection to Israel.

Haniyeh on Saturday also called on the Ramallah-based PA to reassess its ties with Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority is requested to take a clear position regarding the Oslo peace accords and security coordination with Israel,” the Hamas chief said. “Every step taken by the Israeli occupation is invalid.”

In announcing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, Trump said the move was merely recognition of reality and would not prejudge final status issues.

While the White House speech was followed by violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank and Gaza, the protests subsided considerably after the first week.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Twelve Palestinians have been killed in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza. Two of the Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Hamas bases following rocket fire.

On Friday, low-level scuffles between Palestinians and Border Police officers were reported in the Old City of Jerusalem as well.

On Thursday, the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution rejecting Trump’s Jerusalem recognition. The measure passed by a margin of 128-9, with 35 abstentions and 21 no-shows. It had previously been vetoed by the US in the Security Council. Israel dismissed the vote as “preposterous.”

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