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Hamas is No Terrorist Group, Claims Abbas

Hamas is not a terrorist organization and, as such, should not be classified as one by Europe, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/18/2013, 4:13 AM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hamas is not a terrorist organization and, as such, should not be classified as one by Europe, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed this past weekend.

Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah faction, spoke in an interview with the Russian RT network, saying that Hamas has agreed to no longer support “armed resistance” and so it is not a terrorist organization.

“A number of Hamas members support this stance,” he said, adding, “That’s what we agreed on during our meeting in Cairo, and several months ago at the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation we reaffirmed that the Palestinian people have the right to non-violent resistance.

“We are going back to the negotiating process. There is no disagreement on this between us and Hamas leaders, though some keep saying that they don’t consider a peaceful solution the only option and don’t rule out military struggle. But all this talk stopped at the Cairo meeting, which was sponsored by the U.S. and Egypt. Now this is Hamas’s official stance. Pay no attention to the odd Hamas members that say different.”

As such, said Abbas, “If Hamas is committed to the ceasefire and if it openly pledges to stick to the peaceful popular resistance, I don’t see much difference between their policy and ours. In this case, there is no need to label them as a terrorist organization.”

The PA leader said that it was not Hamas that targeted Israel with rockets, claiming, “After the Second Intifada, we decided to give up on armed resistance. And let me be totally frank with you: we don’t want to launch any armed resistance whatsoever. Hamas has said the same. Yes, there were clashes in the past, but they have stopped – and I’m grateful to Allah for that.”

He told RT that Hamas is not involved with weapons smuggling into Gaza. “If someone else smuggles weapons inside the Gaza Strip and Israel targets them, Hamas has nothing to do with it. As I said, Egypt sponsored these agreements and Hamas has been following them,” said Abbas.

As usual, Abbas took advantage of the occasion to attack Israel for building in Judea and Samaria, saying, “They all think that it is their legal right to expropriate our land, no matter what their actual political platforms are. Even those members of the Israeli government who don’t live on expropriated territories think that it’s still their legitimate right. We are very much concerned about this kind of perception.

“It doesn’t matter if the current government stays or goes – the problem of land annexation still remains. According to all international documents, all UN documents, twelve Security Council resolutions, land expropriation and settlement activity are illegal and must be stopped – it has been this way since the 1970s,” he claimed.

“The UN Human Rights Council clearly stated that this policy is illegal and demanded a withdrawal of all settlers. If the current Israeli government continues with this rhetoric, there won’t be any negotiations,” he announced.

Asked, however, whether that means that PA Arabs should start another violent uprising, Abbas replied, “My opinion is that today there’s no need for Palestinians to go back to fighting. The balance of forces is not in our favor, so it will only lead to the country’s destruction. Just look at the Second Intifada and its repercussions. Our people can achieve their goals through peaceful means, like it happened at the UN. But it’s not easy.”

Abbas hinted that if peace negotiations resume between Israel and the PA and ultimately yield satisfactory results, he would abandon efforts to appeal to international courts against Israel, a right which he gained when he went to the United Nations to achieve the status of a non-member observer state.

“If these negotiations fail to yield any results, the Palestinian people will have the right to act as they see fit,” he warned, however.

Since 2009 Abbas has refused to come to the negotiating table with Israel and has continuously tried to impose preconditions on talks.

One of his longstanding demands is that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as final borders. He has also demanded that Israel release all Arab terrorists from its jails, and halt construction in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem for a second time before talks begin. At the same time, he has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

With a new Israeli government to be sworn in, negotiations may resume under the leadership of Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni, who was granted the authority by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to conduct negotiations with the PA.

When Livni conducted negotiations under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert it was reported that the two had agreed to give up part of Jerusalem to the PA. However, it is not very likely that any new negotiations will lead to any result and, in any case, any agreement Livni might reach will have to be approved by a ministerial committee headed by Netanyahu.

The committee’s members will include Netanyahu and Livni, but also incoming Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, both of whom have expressed their strong objection to Israel giving up lands for peace and to the establishment of a Palestinian state from which terror attacks could originate and target the heart of Israel.