The question that has been bandied about over the past 13 months, since the Hamas victory in the elections over the Fatah, led by Arafat’s protégé Mahmoud Abbas, has been whether Fatah would choose reconciliation with Israel over an alliance with the warlike Hamas.
Over the past week, it seems that Fatah has made its choice – to align itself with Hamas in total war against Israel.
On Monday, the Palestinian Authority’s Ma’an News Agency interviewed the spokesmen of Fatah, Jamal Nazzal, who spoke candidly about the Fatah-Hamas coordinated war alliance against Israel:
Ma’an: You have said that President Abbas defended Hamas in Europe as a qualified partner in the coalition, yet Hamas criticized your comments. Why?
Nazzal: The spokesmen of Fatah are advocates of Hamas in the foreign media, and the president’s ambassadors always explain to the world’s public that Hamas has developed a new stance, which is supportive of peace. Foreign journalists say that Hamas is committed to destroying Israel, so how can the Palestine Liberation Organization pretend that they can achieve peace with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people? In this context, we remind them of Hamas’ positive declarations regarding acceptance of a peaceful solution including coexistence with Israel.
Ma’an: Do you see any shift in Hamas’s stance following the Mecca agreement?
Nazzal: We are satisfied with the declarations of [Hamas politburo chief] Khaled Mashaal. He is really helpful for President Abbas in convincing the world of the agreement. However, there are some spokesmen in the Palestinian territories who try to boast that Hamas respects rather than commits to the already-signed treaties. This might send some mistaken impression to the Quartet in regards to the ‘worthiness’ of Hamas to get the siege lifted, while, in the point of view of the Westerners, Hamas is leading a war against the existence of Israel. In fact, Hamas is holding a truce with Israel, and this is something well-known.
Ma’an: What about the difference between the respect and the commitment to the deals signed between the PLO and the rest of the world?
Nazzal: Hamas did not sign these agreements and is not asked to recognize these agreements. But when Hamas is in the government of the Palestinian Authority, it should adapt to the situation. Anyway, the Mecca agreement has decided these issues.
Ma’an: What about the Fatah spokesmen and their statements?
Nazzal: After Mecca, things cooled off, and the noise reduced. Hamas now avoids accusing others of not being nationalists and has abandoned the language of daggers. Fatah dealt positively with this trend.
Ma’an: What about Fatah?
Nazzal: Fatah’s language has changed since May 2006. We are committed to the resistance because if the resistance ends, Fatah ends. We are a wide movement, and contain all sectors of society. You can find Marxists as well as religious people in the Fatah movement. We have to deal with all these people in the movement, and we have extensive relations with all the liberation movements in the world. Our language in Fatah is the Palestinian hope and the Palestinian ambitions.
Ma’an: Don’t you think that the Fatah spokesmen are responsible for the tense atmosphere also?
Nazzal: When [Major General] Muhammad Gharib and his children and friends and others are killed by the Executive Force, and when [Fatah member] Shalayil is besieged by Hamas, the spokesmen of Fatah are asked to not publish such news to avoid escalation. This is strange; it is the same as when Israel accuses Palestine TV of incitement when it publishes pictures of Palestinian children who were killed by the Israeli forces.
Ma’an: Do the Fatah spokesmen have any advantages for the movement?
Nazzal: What matters here is the number of Fatah members being assassinated by the Israelis, and the number of prisoners from Fatah; they number 7,150 out of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Ma’an: How do you see the future?
Nazzal: In Mecca, we were forced to choose between satisfying Israel or Hamas. We chose Hamas and made concessions for the sake of the higher Palestinian interests. We joined Hamas under blockade without guarantees that the blockade will be lifted. Hamas too made concessions for the benefit of the Palestinian higher interests. The PLO will speak on behalf of all the Palestinian people. We will be committed to the Arab and international legitimacy and respect the signed agreements. We have ended the differences between each other in spite of the pluralism and criticism we have in the Palestinian arena.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.
©The Bulletin 2007