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Terror umbrella group thwarts US organized conferences in Ramallah

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus  |
  • Hamas leader describes how Arafat directed the Second Intifada

While the cancellation of at least two events planned by the US embassy and scheduled to be held in Ramallah is significant, the fact that the organization taking credit for thwarting the events is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces should possibly raise alarm.

During the September 2000 - 2005 terror war initiated by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces functioned as the umbrella organization for coordination between many different terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. 

Recently, one of the founders of Hamas, Hassan Yousef, elaborated on how Hamas terror activities during the terror war were coordinated with the PA under and directed by Yasser Arafat, and the active role played by the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces.

Hamas founder Hassan Yousef: “We were in contact with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (Hamas founder and leader), regular daily contact with Sheikh Yassin’s office. And for your information, at the time my office was the [Hamas] Movement’s gateway to the PA. Yasser Arafat was here in Ramallah, and did not leave, to the point that everything that the [Hamas] movement wanted I would convey [to Arafat], and we would sit and reach understandings, and discuss and talk among ourselves. For instance, Yasser Arafat would say to us: ‘At this stage we want to calm things,’ and we would calm them. There was mutual agreement. [Arafat would say]: ‘This time we want to move together and encourage things’ - and there were mutual understandings. The national relations were at the highest level at that time...”

Al-Aqsa TV interviewer: “The Intifada began to move from the popular stage to the military stage after about a month and a half. What caused - or how was the transition - especially after we saw at least, as you noted, the participation of the [PA] Security Forces in shooting at the settlements... We saw that at least [the PA’s] Force 17 in particular among the [PA] Security Forces would shoot at the Zionist occupation. How do you understand this, or what do you know about this stage? ...”

Hamas founder Hassan Yousef: “All of the forces, would meet. [We would] prepare the Intifada activities at these [meetings]: We want this on this day, and on that day we will act that way... In every city a meeting of the National and Islamic Forces would be held, like the national coordination committees in Nablus for example, and there were coordination committees in Tulkarem, Hebron, and so forth. And we were in contact, and the central [headquarters] were here in Ramallah.”

Al-Aqsa TV, A Story From History, July 11, 2019

Calling the cancellation of the latest US sponsored event “another Palestinian victory” the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces said that the planned meeting was the “Americans deliberately, arrogantly, and rudely ignoring our people's legal frameworks and bodies, and an attempt to bypass them and create direct contact with Palestinian figures and institutions through the embassy.” 

Since this was the second US sponsored event cancelled just days apart, in order to deter other potential hosts of future events, the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces added what should clearly be understood as a threat:

“[The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces] warned against the consequences of responding to any invitation from the embassy or any American institution that supports the occupation and US policy, which denies our people's rights and the decisions of international institutions.
They warned any party, institution, framework, or person who would respond to these suspicious invitations that their goal is to undermine the internal stability.”

Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 29, 2019

Whereas, when the terror war (intifada) ended in 2005 the National and Islamic Forces appeared to have traded their violent activities for other activities, in the last few years the violence related element of the organizations activities have reappeared, calling for “Days of Rage” to protest the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to protest the US led economic conference, in Manama, Bahrain. 

Complementing its violent activities, the National and Islamic Forces were named in a recent report titled “Terrorist in Suits”, published by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, as one of the foremost organizations in the Palestinian BDS National Committee. The report noted that the National and Islamic Forces is made up of numerous internationally designated terrorist organizations such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A

The fact that this umbrella organization is once again functioning, and even wielding influence, is disturbing. A forum, which in the past provided a platform for terrorist organizations to meet and coordinate their terror activities, could very easily be used to perform the same function again. Furthermore, while the official political line is that Mahmoud Abbas’s PA/Fatah party is not cooperating with Hamas, this operational platform may actually be reorganizing.