By Nan Jacques Zilberdik
The U.S., Israel, and others have demanded that Hamas denounce violence and disarm in order for them to accept the unity deal that Hamas and the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed in October.
Responding to this demand, several Fatah leaders have spoken against disarmament and reiterated Fatah’s position not to lay down arms, but rather to continue the “resistance” – a Palestinian Authority euphemism for violence and terror.
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki stated that Fatah will “resume arming” its “brigades” in the Gaza Strip, and emphasized that Fatah adheres to violent “resistance” against Israel with weapons that are “pure.” Zaki specified that the loyalty and allegiance of any PA Arab who suggests laying down “the weapons of the resistance” is cast into doubt, and such a person is perceived as a “traitor” :
“The weapons of the resistance are pure, and must be kept. We are increasing our training daily and strengthening our capabilities for the appropriate day, because we are not like sheep going to the slaughter. Whoever harms the weapons of the resistance is not a patriot, and we must look at him in a different light, because these weapons are being used under occupation in a manner that is in accordance with the national decision. They can be beneficial if they are used, and they have a great effect on the other side, Israel. If there was peace and Israeli withdrawal, then perhaps this [issue] could be raised, and we would not treat one who raises it as a traitor… We suspect whoever talks about disarmament… It is forbidden to talk about the topic of the weapons at all…”
[Alam, local Hebron radio station, Nov. 9, 2017]
Zaki alluded to the future use of violence against Israel, mentioning that Fatah is preparing the weapons for “the appropriate day,” and for “the coming day of battle.” Furthermore, he emphasized that the decision on the usage and timing of violence is a “national decision”:
“In the Fatah Central Committee we forbid raising the topic [of disarmament]. Let these weapons multiply and become more sophisticated. But their usage is subject to the authority of the highest institutions and the national decision. All talk of disarmament is consistent with [the interests of] Israel, while the talk of controlling [the weapons] is preparation for the coming day of battle.”
Zaki’s talk of the usefulness of the weapons and their effect on Israel is possibly a reference to the PA’s violence-diplomacy strategy by which the PA alternates between violence and negotiations.
Palestinian Authority leaders have referred to the use of violence as “seeding,” meaning that terror is used to inflict suffering and fear on Israeli society and the international community, after which the terror is stopped temporarily in order to let diplomacy “reap” the fruits of the terror. The ongoing threats of renewed terror are seen by Palestinian Authority Arabs as a primary motivation for Israeli leaders to give in to Palestinian demands.
Zaki’s statements follow similar ones by other Palestinian officials in support for “resistance.” Palestinian Media Watch reported that on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor Sultan Abu Al-Einein stated:
“The only way to freedom and liberation is resistance to the occupier… There is no honor for the weak.”
[Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor to NGOs Sultan Abu Al-Einein, Nov. 2, 2017]
Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi wrote: “No to apology, no to compensation, and no to compromise, rather resistance until the return [of the refugees], the state, and self-determination.” [Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, Nov. 2, 2017]
A spokesman for Fatah, Nasser Al-Qidwa, stated that Israel’s demand to disarm Hamas is “unacceptable, unrealistic, and impossible to implement”:
“Regarding the Israeli approach, which impertinently interferes in order to sabotage the reconciliation and demands the disarmament [of Hamas], [official Fatah Spokesman and Commissioner of Information, Culture, and Indoctrination Nasser] Al-Qidwa emphasized that this is unacceptable, unrealistic, and impossible to implement. He said that in general, disarmament will take place either through war or a political settlement, and noted that Israel has attempted war three times, and has not succeeded in disarming [Hamas].”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 8, 2017]
Meanwhile, Hamas leadership member Mahmoud Al-Zahar has emphasized that the terror organization has no intention of complying with any demand of disarmament:
“Al-Zahar explained… that no one can come near the resistance’s weapons or disarm it. He responded to the statements of [PA] Police Director in the West Bank Hazem Atallah, who promised to disarm the [Izz A-Din] Al-Qassam [Brigades] (i.e., Hamas’ military wing): ‘Hazem Atallah cannot disarm the resistance, and the resistance will never hand over its weapons.'”
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, Nov. 14, 2017]
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah stressed in a statement to the press that: “It is the right of our people to defend itself through all of the means anchored in the international conventions.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, Nov. 2, 2017]
The terms “all means,” “all means of resistance,” and “all forms” are used by PA leaders to include all types of violence, including deadly terror against Israeli civilians such as stabbings and shootings, as well as throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails. PA leaders and officials have legitimized such Palestinian violence by quoting UN resolution 3236, which “recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to regain its rights by all means.”
The PA interprets “all means” as including violence against civilians, but has chosen to ignore the continuation of the resolution which states that the use of “all means” should be “in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations…” The UN Charter prohibits targeting civilians, even in war. Chapter 1, Article 1, opens by saying that “international disputes” should be resolved “by peaceful means.”
Other Fatah Central Committee members’ support for continued “resistance” was documented by PMW last month. Following Fatah and Hamas’ reconciliation, some Fatah Central Committee members hurried to assure that Fatah has not abandoned “resistance.” Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub vowed that Fatah “has not and will not give up resistance,” whereas another committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, emphasized that Fatah’s principles remain “popular resistance, armed struggle, and negotiations.”
For years, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah have glorified violence and promoted the use of arms against Israel. These messages are also conveyed to Arab children, and Fatah reinforces them.
Fatah posted a Palestinian Authority Arab girl’s drawing which included three rifles: the crossed rifles at the bottom and the rifle behind the Dome of the Rock at the top. The drawing was made on the occasion of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. This is one example of how integral the legitimacy of the use of violence and “resistance” has become in children’s education and children’s discourse.
The drawing by Nedaa Abu Rawaa shows former PLO and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat on the left and Hamas founder and former head Ahmed Yassin on the right. Between them is the Dome of the Rock with clasped arms above it, a rifle behind it, and a handshake below it between a green hand representing Hamas and a yellow hand representing Fatah – referring to the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. Behind this is a sun in the colors of the Palestinian flag. At the bottom are two crossed rifles and another handshake. “Palestine” is written twice. [Official Fatah Facebook page, Nov. 6, 2017]