Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Hamas official says UN bid is a ‘political scam’

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The Palestinian UN bid to seek recognition of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines has been criticised by many commentators, including Hamas officials.

Haaretz reported that Mahmoud al-Zahar, a prominent Hamas member in Gaza called the Palestinian UN bid "just nonsense" and a "political scam".

Al-Zahar rejects a two-state solution, which aims to establish an Israeli state and a Palestinian state side by side because it would require recognition of Israel. Al-Zahar stated:

"We are not going to recognize Israel. That is very simple. And we are not going to accept Israel as the owner of one square centimeter because it is a fabricated state."

Al-Zahar says accepting Israel's right to exist would "cost 10 million Palestinians their right to Palestine. Who can pay that price? Who will go to the refugee camps and tell the people you have no right on Palestine?"

Comments by Al-Zahar represents one of the fundamental problems with the Palestinian UN bid. Recognition of a Palestinian state will not end the conflict if the Palestinians refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist.

These concerns were also highlighted by a recent survey of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which found that only 34% accepted a two state solution while 61% rejected it.

Worryingly, 66% said the Palestinians' real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.

The Hamas charter calls for an Islamic state to be established in all of historical Palestine (including Israel). It appears that, despite Hamas' ostensible unity with Fatah, their goals remain the same and the recognition of Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines would not end their call for the destruction of Israel.

Sadly these comments are not confined to Hamas. As noted by Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz in a post last week, Nabil Shaath, Head of Foreign Relations in Fatah, the dominant party within the Palestinian Authority (PA) admitted in an interview on July 13 that the PA's commitment to a two-state solution is merely part of a larger plan to eventually end Israel's existence as a Jewish homeland. He stated:

"[The French initiative] reshaped the issue of the "Jewish state" into a formula that is also unacceptable to us - two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of "two states for two peoples" means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this - not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. We will not sacrifice the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live within the 1948 borders, and we will never agree to a clause preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their country. We will not accept this, whether the initiative is French, American, or Czechoslovakian."

For additional commentary on Shaath's comments see Daniel's blog.