Haniyeh floats idea of negotiations, says postwar Gaza without Hamas a ‘delusion’

Terror group’s leader endorses ‘political path’ to Palestinian state, makes no mention of coexistence with Israel; senior official Abu Marzouk suggests recognition, in line with PLO

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh makes a televised address on December 13, 2023. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh makes a televised address on December 13, 2023. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that the group was open to negotiations to end the ongoing war with Israel, but added that any plan for postwar Gaza that does not involve the Palestinian terror group is just a “delusion.”

“Any arrangement in Gaza or in the Palestinian cause without Hamas or the resistance factions is a delusion,” Haniyeh said in a televised speech aired on Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV.

Haniyeh said he is open to talks for ending the ongoing war and “putting the Palestinian house in order both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

He said Hamas is ready for talks that could lead to a “political path that secures the right of the Palestinian people to their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

He made no mention of an Israeli state living alongside this Palestinian state. Hamas openly seeks Israel’s destruction and has vowed to carry out repeated deadly onslaughts like the one it carried out on October 7 until this is achieved.

Also on Wednesday, however, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a prominent member of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al-Monitor that the group would be opening to recognizing Israel in order to fall into line with the position of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

File: Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, September 18, 2014. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

“You should follow the official stance,” he said, referencing the position adopted in 1993 under the Oslo Accords, in exchange for Israel’s recognition of the group as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people. “The official stance is that the PLO has recognized the State of Israel.”

It was not immediately clear if Abu Marzouk’s position had backing from any other Hamas figures, as the group’s charter has always called for the elimination of Israel.

Negotiations with Hamas are a nonstarter for Israel, which since October 7 has been waging war on the terror group with the intention of toppling its regime in the Gaza Strip. On that day, Hamas gunmen burst through the border in a shock onslaught and rampaged through southern Israel, massacring 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking some 240 people hostage.

The October 7 massacre, which came under cover of a massive barrage of rockets fired at Israel, saw terrorists overrun communities and engage in mass slaughter of civilians of all ages. Families were murdered as they huddled together in their homes or were burned to death. Victims, including children, were raped, tortured or mutilated. At an outdoor music festival, over 360 people were massacred.

It remains unclear who will govern Gaza in the long term after the war, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank, is not a suitable option as it glorifies violence against Israelis and pays stipends to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons. The US has advocated a central role for a “revitalized” PA.

Despite growing international calls for a ceasefire — including a non-binding resolution at the UN General Assembly — Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen both vowed Wednesday that the military offensive against the Hamas terror group will continue until the goal of the operation is achieved.

During a visit to a southern military facility, the prime minister told soldiers that “we are continuing until the end, until victory, until the elimination of Hamas” — even in the face of international pressure. “Nothing will stop us.”

Echoing the prime minister’s sentiments, Cohen told visiting Australian Deputy Foreign Minister Tim Watts that the war against Hamas will continue “with or without international support.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has claimed that, since the start of the war, more than 18,600 people have been killed, mostly civilians. These figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include some 7,000 Hamas terrorists, according to Israel, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets. Another estimated 1,000 terrorists were killed in Israel during the October 7 onslaught.

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