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PA Minister criticizes Hamas attack for giving Netanyahu advantage at talks

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Minister of Religious Affairs in Friday sermon, speaking the day after Hamas’s attack in Hebron:

     “We do not seek to slander anyone, but we ask a question – and we ask it with the utmost honesty and bitterness: what is the secret of the timing for carrying out armed operations (i.e., terror attacks) in the West Bank? We want to know the secret of the timing. … Sheikh Abd Al-Azziz Al-Rantisi was killed, leaders were killed in Gaza. Gaza was pulverized in the last war, pulverized and crushed, but we heard nothing. We didn’t hear a single bullet. We didn’t see anyone. The people in the West Bank went out to the fence (Israel’s security fence), challenging the settlement[s], the fence, the oppression, the theft of land, in popular resistance, without us seeing any of them [Hamas]. Where were they? And suddenly – suddenly! – the moment that President Abbas reaches Washington, the moment that Netanyahu finds himself in the corner, pressed, forced to adapt and accommodate himself to the international approach, suddenly there is a respite for Netanyahu, and the Palestinians are in distress. This operation (Hamas’s shooting of Israeli civilians) brought relief to the Israeli Prime Minister, and immediately afterwards we heard the President of the United States speaking only about security for Israel. All the issues were shrunk down to Israel’s security. Who brought about these circumstances for them [the Israelis]? Those who were behind [corrects himself] I won’t say those who carried it out, at any rate. Those who planned, and gave the green light, and made the political decision. If only the political decision were to come from Palestine; if only it were to come from Gaza. But it came from Teheran… The decision comes from there. Not for the sake of Palestine, not for the sake of Jerusalem, not for the sake of the religion, not for the sake of the [Muslim] nation, but rather in order to destroy the Palestinian essence, and to perpetuate the reality of occupation, and to save Netanyahu from the political distress in which he finds himself. For whose sake is this? And afterwards they talk about resistance. Allah be praised!”…

Political activities which have no connection to the interests of the Palestinian people – and if they have any connection to the interests of the Palestinian people, they [Hamas] should explain it to us – let them explain to us the secret of this genius that underlies the timing of these operations whose sole purpose is to obstruct President Abbas on his way, and to lay open the way for the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, to more settlement, and more evasion, and more violence, and more wrong things, which he is trying to enforce on the Palestinian people as facts on the ground…

I ask those who do not wish the President to go to negotiations – what is their alternative? The President stood in front of all the Arabs at the Arab League and said, ‘If you don’t want negotiations, give me another alternative.’ To all the Arabs. ‘The other alternative – are you prepared for the other alternative?’ Everyone said, ‘No.’ And we ask even the Palestinian factions, Do you have an alternative to negotiations? Go ahead. We’re behind you. We are soldiers along with you, if you have an alternative. There is no alternative!”

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