Hamas Co-Founder: We'll Focus on Protests

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud a-Zahar: We'll focus on Arab Spring-style protests, but won't give up our weapons completely.

Elad Benari ,

Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A senior official in the Hamas terror organization confirmed on Sunday that the organization intends to focus on popular protests in the spirit of the Arab Spring.

In conversation with Channel 10 News, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar confirmed statements that were made on Friday by the group’s politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who told The Associated Press that popular protests have “the power of a tsunami,” pointing to the recent waves of demonstrations across the Arab world.

Al-Zahar stressed, however, that Hamas is not completely giving up its weapons and will only use the protesting method for a certain time period.

He added that the organization decided to accept a request by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to give up its armed struggle against Israel.

Hamas’ decision likely came following reconciliation talks between the rival factions in Cairo on Thursday that resulted in an announcement that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror factions would be joining the PLO.

Al-Zahar also confirmed to Channel 10 that Hamas, in an unprecedented move, has agreed to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state inside what are known as the “1967 borders” [1949 armistice lines –ed.]. This too was said by Mashaal on Friday, who noted that Hamas and Fatah “have political differences, but the common ground is the state on the ‘67 borders. Why don’t we work in this common area.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev dismissed Mashaal’s statements on Friday, telling AP that Hamas has repeatedly said it seeks Israel’s destruction.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if Hamas joins the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) government, Israel will not be able to negotiate with the PA.