Hamas's approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's statehood bid at the United Nations has been mistakenly interpreted by some Westerners as a sign of the Islamist movement's "pragmatism" and its readiness to accept a two-state solution.
Hamas had initially condemned Abbas's decision to apply for membership in the UN of a Palestinian state "only" on the pre-1967 lines. Hamas argued that a Palestinian state should replace Israel, and not live alongside the Jewish state.
Some Hamas leaders even described Abbas's statehood bid as a "mirage," and warned Palestinians against being deluded by the move.
Later, however, senior Hamas officials publicly welcomed Abbas's speech at the UN and praised him for not making concessions on the "main principles" of the Palestinian people, including the "right of return" for refugees to their original homes inside Israel, and act that would demographically overwhelm Israel with Muslims, who would cancel out its Jewish majority.
These Hamas officials said that while they supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, this did not mean that they would recognize Israel's right to exist.
In other words, Hamas is saying, "Give us a Palestinian state now so that we can use it as a launching pad for 'liberating all of Palestine'" -- from "The [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," as the late Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Faisal Husseini, presented the plan.
Hamas leaders, including its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, have always said that they would be willing to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem but without recognizing Israel. This has been Hamas's official line for the past two decades.
In addition, Hamas has repeatedly offered a long-term truce, or cease-fire, to Israel. These announcements by Hamas have led some Westerners to assume that the Islamist movement has softened its policy, and is prepared to abandon the path of terror.
This offer, however, does not mean that Hamas has decided to renounce terror and violence.
Rather, Hamas is saying, "Because I am now weak and cannot destroy you yet, give me a break so that I can gain enough strength to destroy you in the future."
One cannot say that Abbas is among the naïve people who believe that Hamas has changed, or would ever do so. On the contrary, Abbas and his Fatah faction know better than anyone that Hamas is not to be trusted at all.
Abbas paid a heavy price for believing Hamas. In the summer of 2007, Hamas threw Abbas's Palestinian Authority out of the Gaza Strip after he had formed a Unity government with the Islamist movement. Back then, Hamas stabbed Abbas in the back when its forces seized full control of the Gaza Strip and expelled Abbas and his loyalists and him from the area.
After forming a Unity government with the Islamist movement, in the summer of 2007 Since then Abbas has been cooperating with Israel in the battle against Hamas in the West Bank. Through security coordination with Israel, Abbas has managed to crush Hamas's political and military infrastructure in the West Bank.
It is this security coordination with Israel that is keeping Hamas from extending its control beyond the Gaza Strip.
In light of this, it is hard to understand why Abbas has just decided to resume "unity" talks with Hamas. Earlier this week, Abbas dispatched his senior aide, Azzam al-Ahmed, to talk to Hamas representatives about the establishment of a joint Fatah-Hamas government.
It is interesting that Abbas decided to resume the "unity" talks with Hamas just at a time when Hamas has reaffirmed its refusal either to abandon terror or to recognize Israel's right to exist. If Abbas thinks that Hamas will ever change its ideology, he is mistaken.
Abbas probably thinks that it is safer being with Hamas than siding with the US and the West.
Hamas, in fact, deserves credit for being so honest and straightforward about its ideology and goals.
By joining forces with Hamas once again, Abbas would be repeating the same mistake he made in the past. A unity government with Hamas will only improve Hamas's chances of taking over any new Palestinian state.