Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

The Palestinians have once again shown that they have not given up the dream of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamist state funded by Iran and its terrorist proxies, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hezbollah.

On May 18, Hamas, on the US list of Foreign Terrorist organizations, and which does not believe in Israel’s right to exist, scored a landslide victory in the elections for Student Council at Birzeit University, one of the most important Palestinian academic institutions in the West Bank.

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The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc won 28 of the 51 seats of the council; by contrast, the list belonging to Fatah, the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, got only 18 seats.

A third list belongs to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another Palestinian Foreign Terrorist Organization that does not believe in Israel’s right to exist, won five seats.

This means that the student council is now dominated by supporters of two terrorist groups, both strongly opposed to any peace process with Israel and whose members have been involved in hundreds of terror attacks against Israelis.

The Hamas list received 5068 votes, while the PFLP list won 888 votes. The Fatah list got 3,379 votes.

Altogether, 9782 students cast their ballots in the elections out of 12,521 eligible voters, constituting a 78.1% turnout.

The results of the elections at Birzeit, which describes itself as “Palestine’s leading academic institution,” did not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the growing anti-Israel sentiments among the Palestinians.

Public opinion polls published over the past year have demonstrated a dramatic surge in Hamas’s popularity among the Palestinian public. The polls have shown that a majority of Palestinians support the “armed struggle” (a euphemism for terror attacks) against Israel.

The most recent poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research between March 16 and 20, indicated that a majority of Palestinians think Hamas is more deserving to represent and lead the Palestinian people than Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah. In addition, the results of the poll showed that most Palestinians would vote for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

On the other hand, according to the poll, more than 70% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign.

Like the results of the student council elections, the polls show that a majority of Palestinians have lost confidence in Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leadership and the ruling Fatah faction.

These Palestinians are evidently fed up with the rampant corruption and bad governance of the Palestinian Authority leadership. Moreover, these Palestinians who no longer support Abbas are stating that they have no interest in any peace process with Israel.

As the last poll showed, 70% of the Palestinians are opposed to an unconditional return to peace negotiations with Israel. Another 58% expressed opposition to the two-state solution.

Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand why Abbas decided to call off the presidential and parliamentary elections that were supposed to take place in May and July 2021.

Abbas claimed that he cancelled the elections because Israel did not allow the Arab residents of Jerusalem to participate in the vote. Israel, it is worth mentioning, never said that it would ban the Arabs from Jerusalem from casting their votes. Any Arab who wanted to vote could have freely travelled to a nearby voting center in the West Bank. Israel does not ban the Arab residents of Jerusalem, who hold Israeli-issued ID cards, from entering the West Bank.

The truth is that Abbas called off the elections because he was afraid that Hamas would defeat his Fatah faction in the parliamentary election, as took place in 2006. Then, Hamas won a majority of the seats of the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council, triggering a power struggle with Abbas’s Fatah faction. The dispute reached its peak in July 2007, when Hamas staged a bloody and violent coup, toppling and expelling the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip.

The results of the Birzeit University elections prove that Abbas’s fears were not unfounded. Had he insisted on proceeding with the presidential and parliamentary elections, it is most likely that his Fatah faction would have suffered yet another humiliating defeat. It is also highly likely that Hamas would have taken control of the Palestinian Authority presidency and parliament.

Hamas, for its part, announced that it sees the results of the university election as a vote of confidence in its policy of pursuing deadly terrorist attacks against Israel. “This clear victory is another confirmation of the popular rallying around the option of resistance,” Hamas said in a statement after the elections. When Hamas talks about the “resistance,” it is referring to terrorist attacks against Israel, including firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns, shootings, stabbings and car-ramming “operations.”

The students who voted in support of Hamas fully identify with the terrorist group’s covenant, which states that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Article 11 of the covenant states:

“The Islamic resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future generations until judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered; it or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab county nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possesses the right to do that.”

The students who voted for the PFLP did so because they support the terrorist group’s platform, which calls for the “liberation of all the Palestinian lands” through various methods and means, including the “armed struggle.” The PFLP states that it “practices all forms of political, ideological, economic, peaceful and violent struggle, including the armed struggle, to liberate the entire Palestinian lands.” Like Hamas, the PFLP is also saying that its main goal is to liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

The growing popularity of Hamas, PFLP and other terrorist groups among the Palestinians is the direct result of the massive incitement against Israel by Palestinian political and religious leaders, as well as media outlets. Palestinians have been radicalized by their leaders and media to a point where they do not want to hear anything about a peace process with Israel. In fact, they want to see Israel vanish from the map, as the results of the student council elections and the polls clearly illustrate.

The results of the Birzeit University elections and the polls stand in sharp contrast to the views expressed by the Biden administration concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the past year, Biden administration officials have repeatedly stated their commitment to the “two-state solution,” while totally ignoring the widespread support among the Palestinians for the elimination of Israel.

The Hamas victory at the university’s student council should sound alarm bells in the Biden administration, especially the State Department, regarding the true intentions of the Palestinians. Their sole commitment is to have a state that would replace Israel, not one that would exist peacefully alongside Israel. That is why it is nonsensical to pressure Israel to make any territorial (or non-territorial) concessions to the Palestinians, who are openly proclaiming that they want to establish a Palestinian state on the ruins of Israel and the bodies of dead Jews.

 

{Reposted from the Gatestone Institute site}

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Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East. This article originally appeared on the Gatestone Institute website (gatestoneinstitute.org).