The Palestinian Authority claims that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have renounced terrorism and accepted Israel's right to exist. Hamas and the Palestinian factions, however, say this is not true and that they remain committed to "all forms of resistance" against Israel, including an "armed struggle." Pictured: Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)
The Palestinian Authority (PA) claims that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have renounced terrorism and accepted Israel's right to exist.
Hamas and the Palestinian factions, however, say this is not true and that they remain committed to "all forms of resistance" against Israel, including an "armed struggle."
They are also stressing that they have not recognized Israel's right to exist and are determined to pursue the fight "until the liberation of all of Palestine," from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Hamas and its allies, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), are actually saying that the PA leadership is lying when it says that the terror groups have changed their attitude toward Israel.
This raises the question: Who exactly is the PA leadership lying to and why?
The answer: The PA is lying to the international community, specifically US President Joe Biden's administration.
According to the Palestinian news website Amad, the PA's Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs and member of the ruling Fatah faction headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, recently sent a letter to the Biden administration concerning the purported changes in the policies of the Palestinian terror groups.
In the letter, al-Sheikh said that all Palestinian "political" factions, including Hamas, agreed to lay down their arms and accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Al-Sheikh wrote that the alleged agreement was reached during a meeting of leaders of several Palestinian factions in September 2020. "The following consensus were reached by all political factions," he said.
"Commitment to international law standards, commitment to a Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967, commitment to the PLO as the political umbrella and the legitimate sole representative of the Palestinian people, commitment to the principle of peaceful transfer of power through elections, and commitment to popular resistance (peaceful) [against Israel]."
The two important "commitments" mentioned in the letter are those referring to a Palestinian state "based on the 1967 borders" and a "peaceful resistance" against Israel.
The first implies that the Palestinian terror groups, which do not recognize Israel's right to exist, are ready to accept a Palestinian state only in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Moreover, it implies that the terror groups are no longer seeking the "liberation of all of Palestine" and replacing Israel with an Islamist state.
The second "commitment" implies that Hamas, PIJ and the remaining terror groups now favor a "peaceful" resistance against Israel instead of various forms of terrorism, including rockets, stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks.
Yet statements made by leaders of the Palestinian terror groups in the past few days clearly contradict the contents of the letter sent by the PA leadership to the Biden administration.
The leaders of the terror groups are sending the following message to the Biden administration and the rest of the world: Do not believe the PA leadership. We have not changed our policies toward Israel.
Hamas issued a statement on February 25 in which it denied that the group had changed its attitude toward Israel. "Our political and national positions are well known and clear," Hamas said. "They are expressed in our official documents and publications. We remain committed to the resistance until the liberation [of all of Palestine]."
The most significant document Hamas is talking about is its 1988 charter, which states:
"The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (Trust) upon all Muslim generations till the day of resurrection. It is not right to give it up or any part of it. There is no solution to the Palestinian problem expect by jihad (holy war). In the struggle against the Jewish occupation of Palestine, the banner of jihad must be raised."
Addressing a Zoom conference called, "United Against Normalization" [with Israel], Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on February 20 that his group remains committed to a "comprehensive resistance" against Israel. Hamas, he added, "Will pursue its resistance program until the liberation of the Palestinian land, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea."
Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, was quoted on February 25 as saying that his group remains committed to an armed resistance against Israel. "All forms of resistance are legitimate, including the popular and armed ones," Hammad said. "Palestine is Muslim-owned land, and no one is entitled to give up one inch of it."
Responding to the PA letter to the Biden administration, the Marxist-Leninist PFLP terror group denied that it had changed its policy toward Israel:
"The popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine affirms that it remains committed to the right of the Palestinian people to all their land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river. No one has the right to speak on behalf of all the [Palestinian] national groups in way that may be understood that we have given up any part of the land of historical Palestine."
The Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad also denied that it has changed its position toward Israel. PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah announced that his group would never recognize Israel or the Oslo Accords, signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993 and 1995. He too emphasized the need to continue waging terror attacks and jihad against Israel.
The Palestinian terror groups certainly deserve credit for being upfront about their true, lethal intentions toward Israel. Unlike the PA leadership, these terror organizations speak in a single and straightforward voice. Their message in Arabic and English is clear: we will spill as much Jewish blood as it takes to rid "Palestine" of the Jews.
The Palestinian Authority leadership's letter to the Biden administration is yet another attempt by Abbas and his senior officials to dupe the Americans and the rest of the world into believing that the Palestinian terror groups are no longer seeking the annihilation of Israel.
It is a sick joke to say that Hamas and PIJ endorse a "peaceful" resistance when the two groups scream day and night that they remain committed to the armed struggle and terrorism.
Abbas is seeking to fool the Biden administration into believing that he has managed to persuade the terror groups to transform themselves into peace-seeking organizations. Abbas is utterly desperate for US funding. He is lying through his teeth to get the Biden administration to resume pumping cash into his regime -- which is bankrupt in every possible sense of the word. It now remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will allow itself to be hoodwinked by the PA's master magician.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.