Gail at Crossing the Rubicon2 tipped me off to this article in the Times in which the terrorist organization Hamas states that they are responsible for Israel withdrawing from Gaza and that they intend to challenge Fatah in the upcoming elections.
“Mahmoud Zahar, Hamasâ€™s senior leader in Gaza, disclosed the full extent of the groupâ€™s ambitions in a rare interview. He confirmed that it will contest seats in Palestinian Legislative Council elections in the same month that Israel withdraws from Gaza, and join the Cabinet if it wins.
He made clear that Hamas intends to claim Israelâ€™s withdrawal as a retreat under fire and victory for its campaign of violence. This is exactly the image that Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, is determined to avoid, knowing that it will be seized upon by his right-wing critics, who accuse him of handing the Palestinians a â€œdividend for terrorâ€.
Speaking at a secret location in the Gaza Strip, Dr Zahar, 60, told The Times: â€œVery simply, nobody can deny that if Israel is going to leave the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, that was because of the intifada, because of the armed struggle, because of the big sacrifices of Hamas for this goal. It was not because of negotiations, or the goodwill of Israel, or the Americans or Europeans.â€
It should come as no surprise that they are claiming responsibility. It suits their purposes to do so as it shores up support among the Palestinians. They have carefully crafted and cultivated an image among them as being a multifaceted organization that offers social services in addition to their military wing.
And it really is a problem for Israel because they do not need for anyone to think that you can murder, maim and slaughter your way to concessions. It does not bode well for future negotiations. But part of what is of the most concern to me is addressed in this next section.
“Ominously, he refused to commit Hamas to peace in Gaza once Israel withdraws its 9,000 settlers. â€œIt depends on what Israel does,â€ he said. â€œNow Israel is talking about reorganisation. We do not accept reorganisation. We are looking for withdrawal, real withdrawal, and not to violate our sovereignty.”
â€œOur goal is to reform and reconstruct buildings, to replant trees, to flourish our people economically, to keep the mood of the Palestinian people anti-occupation, to move towards a new strategy: co-operation with the Arabs, not co-operation with the Israelis,â€ Dr Zahar said.”
Hamas does not recognize the State of Israel and nothing I have read here makes me think that they are going to do so. They have a long term goal and are patiently and methodically taking steps to achieve that goal.
If they are able to achieve a real position of power and authority within a Palestinian government we could end up with more problems than currently exist.