Hamas said on Thursday that it is concerned over the possibility that Israel would unilaterally withdraw from Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), as it did in Gaza in 2005.
Speaking to the Egyptian-based Al-Ahram newspaper, deputy Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to abandon negotiations with Israel, and expressed concern that if Abbas continues with his current policy, Israel would withdraw from Judea and Samaria.
Such a move by Israel, explained Abu Marzouk, would leave two separate “Palestinian” areas that are completely detached from one another and would also isolate Jerusalem.
“This is a dangerous scenario,” Abu Marzouk said, noting that “the Arab preoccupation with internal matters gives Israel a chance to establish facts on the ground as it wishes.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested last month that Israel consider a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria.
“If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinian [Authority Arabs], we should consider an interim arrangement, or even a unilateral disengagement,” Barak said in a speech to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies.
The PA rejected Barak’s suggestion, saying such a proposal would not lead to lasting peace agreement, but would only harm the two-state solution.
Abu Marzouk also told Al-Ahram that the Hamas leadership does not see Israel as a military threat to its rule in Gaza, and also rejected the possibility that Israel may launch a ground operation in Gaza or conduct military operations in the Sinai Peninsula to remove the threat of the terrorist groups operating there.
“Israel will not dare to violate Egyptian sovereignty in any way, particularly under the present circumstances,” he said, adding, “Israel will think a thousand times before taking action against Egypt."
Referring to Gaza, Abu Marzouk said he believed the current situation – where Israel periodically strikes in Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks – may go on for years.
He tried to shake off responsibility for Hamas’ role in allowing Gaza-based organizations to carry out terror attacks against Israel from the Sinai Peninsula, saying, “Hamas policy supports maintaining Egyptian security and non-infringement of Egyptian sovereignty in any way. Agreements exists which are enough to settle this matter with Egypt and we are cooperating fully to achieve this. However, such incidents (terror attacks) make it difficult for both parties - Egypt and Gaza - to maintain security, since it is impossible to maintain security 100 percent. Such incidents happen from time to time, and they conflict with the interests of Hamas and Egypt.”
Abu Marzouk added, “Hamas' position is clear, and that is that no exit from Gaza which is contrary to the agreements with Egypt should be permitted, and unfortunately this happens sometimes, and we are talking about incidents which take place far from the border and which are difficult to thwart by both sides.”