Ismail Haniyeh is the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement designated by the US and European Union as a terrorist organization because of its "armed resistance" against Israel. Haniyeh, who is currently based in Qatar, has always supported terror attacks against Israel and remains fully committed to Hamas's covenant, which states that the land of "Palestine" belongs only to Muslims and rejects any "initiatives or so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences." The Hamas covenant further states that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war]."
Haniyeh and his movement continue to boast of terror attacks against Israeli Jews, including the cold-blooded murder of a Jewish woman and her two daughters. Recently, the movement claimed responsibility for a number of terror attacks targeting Jewish soldiers and civilians in the West Bank. Hamas, in addition, continues to call on Palestinians to step up terror attacks with the declared intention of liberating all of "Palestine," from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and replacing Israel with an Iranian-backed terror state.
Because of his radical views and support of terrorism against Israel, Haniyeh has become so popular among Palestinians that public opinion polls show that if presidential elections were held today, he would win easily. Because of his anti-Israel rhetoric and activities, Haniyeh and his movement have been warmly embraced by Turkey and Qatar. Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashaal and Saleh Arouri, feel more comfortable in these countries than they do in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Qatar and Turkey are considered the prime backers of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.
On July 26, Haniyeh was invited to Turkey for a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who has close relations with the Biden Administration and the European Union. After the discussion, Abbas and Haniyeh were invited to the presidential palace in Ankara for an audience with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Biden administration and the European Union did not condemn Abbas for meeting with the leader of a movement designated by the Americans, Europeans and other countries as a terrorist organization. In fact, American and European officials are likely to continue to hold regular meetings with Abbas and senior PA officials despite the new harmonious relations between Abbas and Hamas. The Biden Administration and the Europeans are also likely to continue providing financial aid to the Palestinians without asking Abbas about his repeated attempts to forge an alliance with the same Hamas terrorists who murder Jews and openly call for the elimination of Israel. The Biden Administration and the Europeans apparently have no problem with Abbas preferring to meet with the leader of a terrorist group, Hamas, than with the prime minister of Israel.
Abbas and Haniyeh did not meet to discuss ways of reviving the stalled peace process between the Palestinians and Israel or to discuss ways of boosting the Palestinian economy and solving the problem of unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Instead, the two met to discuss ways of "unifying [Palestinian] national efforts" in the fight against Israel, according to senior Hamas official Hussam Badran. When Hamas refers to "efforts" against Israel, it is referring to shootings, stabbings, rockets and car-ramming attacks. As its covenant unambiguously states, Hamas believes that terrorism is the only way to achieve its goal of destroying the "Zionist entity."
Badran said that Haniyeh and the Hamas officials who met with Abbas in Turkey "affirmed during the meeting that comprehensive resistance is the most effective way to confront" Israel. Needless to say, the term "comprehensive resistance" is a euphemism for terrorism. As it has proven over the past three decades, Hamas outright rejects non-violent "resistance." The only "resistance" Hamas endorses is one that includes suicide bombings and the indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israeli towns and cities, as well as drive-by shootings and stabbings. The only "resistance" Hamas endorses is one that results in the murder of as many Jews as possible.
So, why did Abbas, who has repeatedly claimed that he supports the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, agree to meet with a terrorist leader who has dedicated his entire life to destroying Israel? Why did he agree to meet with a terrorist leader whose movement expelled him and the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip in 2007?
Abbas is either afraid that Hamas will kill him and topple his regime in the West Bank, or he identifies with the terror group and supports its Jihad against Israel. If the former is true, Abbas is a weak leader who cares only about his survival. If the latter is true, which seems more likely, Abbas has exposed his real intention: the elimination of Israel. By embracing the Hamas leader, Abbas is actually endorsing the Islamist movement's charter, which does not believe in Israel's right to exist. The only solution Abbas and Hamas want is one that would lead to the obliteration of Israel.
Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, have argued over the years that their repeated overtures of friendship toward Hamas are only aimed at achieving Palestinian "national unity" and ending the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One of Abbas's close associates, Azzam al-Ahmed, recently said that Abbas is hoping to form a unity government with Hamas. Such a move would mean that the US and European Union, the largest funders of the Palestinians, would also end up funding an Islamist movement which they have already classified as a terrorist organization. Once Hamas joins a Palestinian Authority-led government, it too would benefit from American and European taxpayer funds.
The meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh was not the first of its kind. Last year, the two met in Algeria, where they also reportedly talked about the need to achieve "national unity" as a way of strengthening the fight against Israel. As is the situation today, when their friend Abbas met with the leader of the Palestinian terrorist movement, the Biden Administration and the European Union remained silent.
The Biden Administration is evidently more concerned about an Israeli law passed by a democratic vote in the Israeli parliament than by Abbas's ongoing efforts to appease Palestinian terrorists, whether by inviting them to join his government or by rewarding them financially through his pay-for-slay program. Rather than reviling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli parliament, perhaps the Biden Administration might ask the Palestinians why they do not have their own parliament. The Biden Administration does not ask because it does not want to embarrass the Palestinians by showing that they do not have democracy and cannot even hold elections. Americans and Europeans seems always to avoid holding the Palestinians accountable for any wrongdoing.
Is the Biden Administration aware that the Palestinian parliament was dissolved by Abbas in 2018 and that the Palestinians have no freedom of expression under either the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or Hamas in the Gaza Strip? Is the Biden Administration aware that while Netanyahu and his coalition were elected by a majority of the Israelis, Abbas has just entered the 18th year of his four-year term in office?
There is no love lost between the Biden Administration and Netanyahu, who has won six elections. This is the same Biden Administration that looks the other way as the Palestinian Authority president pursues his efforts to join forces with Hamas.
Similarly, the European Union, which never misses an opportunity to denounce Israel, seems unconcerned about Abbas meeting a terrorist leader and inviting him to join the Palestinian government. Yet, at a bare minimum, the Biden Administration and the European Union ought to urge Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel and cease his ongoing campaign to vilify Israel and demonize Jews. The negotiations will not achieve peace and harmony between Israel and the Palestinians, but they could ease tensions between the two sides and reduce the level of violence. At the very least, the Biden Administration and the European Union ought to call out Abbas for seeking to forge an alliance with one of the most deadly Palestinian terrorist movements, Hamas.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.