Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Hamas flags

Palestinians have once again shown that their real heroes, sadly, are those who carry out terrorist attacks against Jews and seek the elimination of Israel.

In May, elections for student councils were held at the two most important Palestinian universities in the West Bank: An-Najah University in Nablus and Birzeit University, north of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians. The two major student lists that ran in the elections are affiliated with Hamas, the terrorist organization controlling the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the ruling faction headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

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The results of the elections at the two universities did not surprise those familiar with the general sentiments among the Palestinians: the Hamas-affiliated lists won most of the seats on the student councils. For the 87-year-old Abbas and his Fatah faction, the victory of the Hamas supporters was not only humiliating, but also a reminder that when it comes to dealing with Israel, many Palestinians prefer terrorism over diplomacy.

The election campaigns and debates at the universities focused mostly on the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel.

The students affiliated with Hamas, whose charter openly calls for the elimination of Israel, boasted that their group continues to carry out terrorist attacks in which Jews have been killed or wounded. These students ridiculed their rivals in Fatah for allegedly being too soft on Israel and not carrying out enough terrorist attacks against Jews.

The Hamas-affiliated students also condemned the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority for conducting security coordination with Israeli security forces in the West Bank. Any form of cooperation with Israel, they argued, is tantamount to treason.

The underlying message the Hamas-affiliated lists sent to the thousands of students at the two campuses was: Vote for us because we explicitly and unreservedly uphold the armed struggle against Israel and promise to continue the Jihad (holy war) to murder Jews and replace Israel with a genocidal Islamist state, free of non-Muslims.

During election rallies at the two university campuses, Hamas supporters used banners and photos glorifying Palestinian terrorists such as senior Hamas members Mohammed Def and Mosab Shtayyeh, who are wanted by Israel for their roles in a series of terrorist attacks, including shootings and suicide bombings.

When the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc learned that it had won the elections at Birzeit University on May 24, it announced that Mosab Shtayyeh, currently being held in Palestinian Authority custody for unknown reasons, will serve as “honorary president” of the student council.

Now that the two most important Palestinian university student councils are controlled by Hamas, the question is whether it would be a good idea to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections for the PA in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The answer, unfortunately, is “no” — and certainly not under the current circumstances, where a majority of Palestinians are saying that they would vote for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh if and when new PA presidential elections were held. It also would not be a particularly good idea to hold general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at a time when a majority of Palestinians are voicing support for an “armed intifada” (uprising) against Israel.

More than 70% of the Palestinians, according to a public opinion poll conducted the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, support the terrorist attack in which two brothers, Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were cold-bloodedly murdered in March as they drove through the Palestinian town of Huwara on their way home. The poll also found that 68% of the Palestinians support the formation of terror groups, such as the Lions’ Den, to attack and murder Jews.

Hamas is correct when it says that the results of the elections at the two universities are proof that most Palestinians support terrorism against Israel. Hamas said in a statement:

“This [Hamas] victory sends a clear message about the rising popularity of the resistance [against Israel]… The victory reaffirms our people’s adherence to the option of resistance.”

To be clear, when Hamas talks about the “resistance,” it is referring to various forms of terrorism, including suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, car-rammings and firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Zakaria Abu Muammar, a senior Hamas official, said the victory of his group’s supporters at the universities “reflects the Palestinian youths’ confidence in Hamas and its plans.”

In case it was not clear what Hamas’s plans are, it is worth reading the group’s covenant, published in 1988 and which remains unchanged and as relevant as ever.

Article 11 of the covenant, for instance, underlines the strategies and methods of Hamas:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim 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 country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president…neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that.”

Article 13 of the Hamas covenant urges Muslims to wage Jihad on Israel and reject any peace initiatives:

“There is no solution for the Palestinian issue expect through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

The victory of the Hamas-affiliated lists at the two Palestinian universities in the West Bank should serve as a warning not only to Mahmoud Abbas, but also to the international community, especially the Biden administration, whose representatives continue to promote the delusional and dangerous idea of a “two-state solution” between the Palestinians and Israel. It is a dangerous idea because it will lead to the establishment of a Hamas-controlled state next to Israel. Like the Gaza Strip, this state too would be used by Iran and its terror proxies as a launching pad to attack Israel.

It is time for the Biden administration, the European Union and the United Nations to wake up and see with their own eyes that the only solution sought by a majority of Palestinians is one that would deliberately lead to the elimination of Israel. The university students who voted for Hamas have endorsed Hamas’s call for Jihad and terrorism against Israel. They have endorsed Hamas’s argument that Israel has no right to exist.

They have also endorsed the argument that no Palestinian or Arab leader is entitled to make any concessions to Israel.

The victory of Hamas supporters in the university elections is yet another reminder how Palestinians have been raised to hate Israel and glorify those who murder Jews. For generations, Palestinian leaders have been poisoning the hearts and minds of their people against Israel and Jews. The high regard of Palestinian university students for an Islamist group such as Hamas is a natural consequence of this inter-generational hate-fest.

The officials in the Biden administration, European Union and United Nations who continue to talk about the need for a “two-state solution” are actually advocating the creation of another Hamas-led state, like ISIS, this time in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. A similar state already exists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, used a launching pad to fire rockets into Israel.

The results of the recent university elections are a clear indication — and warning — that if all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem were ever handed over to the exclusive control of the Palestinian Authority, they too would end up in the hands of Hamas, whether through elections or a violent and bloody coup like the one that took place in the Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas staged a coup, overthrew the Palestinian Authority and seized control of the entire Gaza Strip. Just a year earlier, Hamas had won the PA parliamentary elections.

By voting for Hamas once again, Palestinians are sending a message to the world that they are determined to pursue terrorism and violence against Israel.

They are also sending a warning to Abbas and other Palestinian leaders not to make peace with Israel or work with it in any way, or else they will be treated as traitors — further proof, as if it were needed, that the Palestinians have yet again chosen violence, terrorism and misery rather than a bright, promising future, a better economy, and prosperity for their young.

{Reposted from the Gatestone Institute website}

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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).