If Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas halted his security agreement with Israel, as he has repeatedly threatened to do, he would be signing his own death warrant. Photo of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
The Iranian-backed Hamas movement has welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest threat to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US, including security cooperation.
“We hope that this time Abu Mazen’s (Abbas’s) decision is a serious one,” said Saleh Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas “political bureau.” Arouri added that the return of the “armed resistance” to the West Bank was now possible “and even closer than some may think.”
The Hamas official repeated his movement’s rejection of any peace agreement with Israel, including the Oslo Accords, signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993. “Since day one, we have rejected the Oslo Accords,” Arouri explained. “We have also strongly opposed all security agreements with the occupation, and therefore we welcome Abu Mazen’s decision to halt the security coordination [with Israel].”
Iran’s other Palestinian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), also seems to be satisfied with Abbas’s recurring threat to renounce all agreements with Israel, including security coordination.
“We take Abu Mazen’s announcement seriously and look forward to its implementation,” said PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah. “What is required of the Palestinian Authority is a big step towards unity.”
Why are Hamas and PIJ so happy with the Palestinian leader?
Abbas’s threat, which came in response to an Israeli plan to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank, is undoubtedly a precious gift not only to his Palestinian political rivals in Hamas, but also to Iran, whose leaders continue to talk about the need for “eliminating the Zionist regime.”
On the same day Abbas made his announcement, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, wrote on Twitter: “Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn’t mean eliminating Jews. We aren’t against Jews. It means abolishing the imposed regime and Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians choose their own government and expel thugs like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. This is ‘eliminating Israel’, and it will happen.”
In another comment on Twitter on May 19, Khamenei said that the West Bank, where Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are based, “must be armed, just like Gaza.”
The Iranian leader is actually saying that his country is seeking to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for terrorist attacks in order to achieve the goal of eliminating Israel. Bizarrely, he is promising to destroy Israel, but without killing Jews.
Khamenei evidently sees Abbas’s decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US as a positive development that would facilitate the mission Iran and Hamas share to export anti-Israel terrorism to the West Bank. The Iranian leader wants the West Bank to become like the Gaza Strip, from where Hamas and its allies have been firing rockets at Israel for several years.
If Abbas goes through with his threat to halt security coordination with Israel, that would mean an end to his efforts to prevent Iran’s Palestinian proxies, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, from proceeding with their ambition of extending their control to the West Bank. By halting the security crackdown on Hamas, Abbas would be paving the way for terrorists to kill him and his associates in the West Bank, as they already began to do in 2007 in the Gaza Strip, and possibly again in a coup in 2014.
In recent years Abbas’s security forces have arrested hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank as part of an effort to prevent these groups from undermining his regime. Israel, for its part, has been helping Abbas by routinely arresting Hamas members and officials who pose a threat to his government.
It is rare for a Hamas leader to praise Abbas. Hamas and Abbas have been engaged in a power struggle since 2007, when the Islamist movement, Hamas, staged a violent coup in the Gaza Strip, hurled members of the Palestinian Authority from high buildings and overthrew the Palestinian Authority regime, along with Abbas, who, since then, has not even been able to return to his house in the Gaza Strip. Like their masters in Tehran, however, the leaders of Hamas now apparently believe that Abbas may finally have decided to join the Iranian-led “axis of evil” by cutting Palestinian ties with Israel and the US.
Therefore the leaders of Hamas are now heaping praise on Abbas and urging him to “translate his words into deeds.” The message Hamas is sending to Abbas is, “Thank you for finally realizing that the armed struggle is the only way to destroy Israel. Let us join forces in the Jihad to eliminate Israel.”
Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist; its charter states that “the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country and no Arab king or president have that right.”
The charter also makes it clear that [peace] “initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad. There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.”
For several years now, Hamas has been strongly condemning Abbas because of his perceived support for the two-state solution and contacts with Israel, including security coordination between the Palestinian Authority security forces and the IDF in the West Bank. At one point, when Abbas was quoted as saying that he was not opposed to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded by announcing that the Palestinian leader’s statement did not represent the Palestinian people.
In 2014, Hamas went further by calling for removing Abbas from power and putting him on trial for “high treason.” Yahya Abadseh, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that Abbas should be toppled and brought to trial for “betraying the Palestinian people and endangering their interests by imposing sanctions on the Gaza Strip and collaborating with foreign parties.”
Three years later, another senior Hamas official, Marwan Abu Ras, called for “imposing [Islamic] sharia law against Abbas by hanging him in front of his people.” Abu Ras too accused Abbas of “treason” and “collaboration” with Israel.
Additionally, paying verbal respects after a death constitutes high treason in the eyes of Hamas. A year ago, the terrorist organization accused Abbas of betraying the Palestinians by offering condolences to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin over the death of his wife in June 2019. Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said, “Abbas’s condolences to the President of the Zionist entity over the death of his wife is a betrayal of our Palestinian people, a stab [in the backs of] the families of the [Palestinian] martyrs, and a disregard for their noble feelings.”
If and when Abbas does suspend security coordination with Israel, he will be sending a message to Iran and its Palestinian proxies that the time has come to turn the West Bank into a center for Jihad against Israel and the “infidels.”
At the same time, Abbas will be signing his own death warrant: Hamas has apparently not relinquished its desire to “hang Abbas in front of the Palestinian people.” It appears to be decision time: Will Abbas ally himself with those who are protecting him or with those who execute him as a traitor?
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.