'Hamas is prolonging the suffering of the Palestinians'

Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman blast Hamas, urge it to "free" the people of Gaza.

Elad Benari ,

PM Netanyahu meets Greenblatt, Friedman and Kushner
PM Netanyahu meets Greenblatt, Friedman and Kushner
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Jared Kushner, senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, Jason Greenblatt, the special U.S. representative for international negotiations, and U.S ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday said Hamas is prolonging the suffering of the residents of Gaza.

In an op-ed they wrote for The Washington Post, the three urged Hamas to accept Israel’s existence and added that the terrorist group is fighting a war that has long been lost.

“At the end of a productive six-day trip to the region recently, one reality was painfully clear: The nightmare of Hamas’s leadership is continuing and needlessly prolonging the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” they wrote.

“Despite the billions of dollars invested for the benefit of Palestinians in Gaza over the past 70 years, 53 percent of the people there live below the poverty level, and the unemployment rate is a crippling 49 percent. The Palestinians of Gaza are stuck in a vicious cycle where corrupt and hateful leadership has provoked conflicts leading to reduced opportunities and the poverty and hopelessness that follow.”

“International donors are conflicted: Should they try to help the people directly, at the certain risk of enriching terrorists, or withhold funding to Hamas and watch the people it is supposed to govern suffer? In the past, investments in badly needed infrastructure have been diverted for weapons and other malign uses, and even the projects that are built are often destroyed as a consequence of Hamas’s aggression,” noted Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman.

“Until governance changes or Hamas recognizes the state of Israel, abides by previous diplomatic agreements and renounces violence, there is no good option,” they stressed.

“Seventy years after the founding of Israel, it would be wise for Hamas to acknowledge that the existence of Israel is a permanent reality. Almost all in the Middle East have come to accept this fact, and many even embrace it. At the expense of the Palestinian people, Hamas is fighting a morally bankrupt, decades-old war that has long been lost,” the three continued.

“Peace will provide opportunity to break this stalemate, and peace will be achieved only by embracing reality and dismissing a flawed ideology. Life could significantly improve in short order for the Palestinian people if Hamas allowed it. There are engaged, interested parties with resources who are ready to get to work. Yet without real change accompanied by reliable security, progress is impossible. If Hamas demonstrates clear, peaceful intentions — not just by word but, more importantly, by deed — then all manner of new opportunities becomes possible.”

Hamas, they said, “must immediately cease provoking or coordinating attacks on Israelis and Egyptians, and on infrastructure projects sponsored by donor nations and organizations. Rather than looking for opportunities to weaponize everything from kites to mirrors in order to attack Israel, Hamas should focus its ingenuity on improving the Gazan economy. Rather than cynically attempting to exploit its barbaric holding of Israeli soldiers and citizens, Hamas must return them to their families.”

“Instead of exploiting crossings such as Rafah and Salah al-Din to smuggle weapons and siphon off tax revenue for illicit purposes and personal enrichment, Hamas must hand those functions over in their entirety to the Palestinian Authority so that badly needed materials can get through to the people of Gaza. The international community stands ready to work with the Palestinian Authority on this vital effort.”

A cycle of rockets, mortars, terror tunnels, kite bombs and other weapons of aggression “lead only to stricter constraints on the people of Gaza. Hamas’s acts of aggression have only produced misery for the people of Gaza. The true victims of this terrible situation are the many Palestinians who are not rioting but whose futures are dimmed by Hamas’s radical approach,” the three U.S. officials wrote, adding “The world is moving forward, but bad choices are causing Palestinians to fall further and further behind.”

“For far too long, Gaza has lurched from crisis to crisis, sustained by emergency appeals and one-time caravans of aid, without dealing with the root cause: Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive. This problem must be recognized and resolved or we will witness yet another disastrous cycle,” they concluded.

Greenblatt has continuously criticized Hamas, which has ruled Gaza with an iron fist since 2007, for diverting funds it receives to terrorism against Israel instead of using it to improve the lives of Gazans.

On Tuesday, Greenblatt tweeted, “By the end of one day (July 14), 200 mortars and rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Some landed in communities bordering and near Gaza and caused injuries. Hamas' terror kites and terror balloons are causing dangerous fires and millions of dollars in property damage in Israel.”

“In the meantime, the people of Gaza have little electricity, high unemployment, and continue to suffer. Hamas continues to divert desperately needed money and resources from the Palestinians of Gaza,” he continued.

“These actions only lead to the disastrous escalation of violence and more people left suffering under failed governance. Hamas is hurting everyone!” he concluded.

On Sunday, a day after Gaza terrorist groups fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel, Greenblatt also ripped Hamas and urged the group to “try peace” instead of firing rockets and inciting weekly riots along the border.