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What would the EU and UN have done if Hamas had won the PA elections?

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

From May 10 through May 20, Hamas, the internationally designated terror organization that controls the Gaza Strip, fired over 4,300 missiles against Israel, targeting its civilian population. By May 20, 12 people (9 Israelis and 3 foreign nationals) had been murdered and hundreds more had been injured. There is no doubt that Hamas is responsible for committing multiple war crimes.

Just weeks ago, before the latest cycle of Palestinian violence flared up, the European Union and the United Nations considered the homicidal terror group to be a legitimate participant in the Palestinian Authority elections.

When PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called the election in January, a statement of the Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA), welcomed the decision saying:

“This is a welcome development as participative, representative and accountable democratic institutions are key for Palestinian self-determination and state-building.”

[EU website, Jan. 16, 2021]

On the same day, the EU announced that it was launching a €2.1 million fund to support the readiness of the PA Central Elections Committee. The EU said that it would donate €1.5 million to that fund.  

A statement of the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, reflected the same sentiment:

“The holding of elections in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza will be a crucial step towards Palestinian unity, giving renewed legitimacy to national institutions, including a democratically elected Parliament and Government in Palestine.”  

[UN Secretary-General website, Jan. 16, 2021]

The statement continued with the Secretary General’s “hopes that the holding of the elections will contribute to restarting a process towards a negotiated two-State solution based on the pre-1967 lines, and in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law.”

Neither the EU nor the UN questioned the participation of Hamas - or any other internationally designated terror organization for that matter, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - in the elections.  

Fearing that his divided Fatah party would lose the elections to Hamas, Abbas decided on April 29 to indefinitely postpone the PA elections.

A statement released by EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, said that the decision was “deeply disappointing.” The statement continued:

“The EU has consistently expressed its support for credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians.

We firmly believe that strong, inclusive, accountable and functioning democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are vital for the Palestinian people, for democratic legitimacy and, ultimately, for the two-state solution.”

[EU website, April 30, 2021]

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, also bemoaned the postponement of the elections:

“Recognizing widespread international support, I encourage Palestinians to continue on the democratic path. The holding of transparent and inclusive elections throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem as stipulated in prior agreements remains essential for renewing the legitimacy and credibility of Palestinian institutions and opening the path to re-establishing Palestinian national unity. This will also set the path toward meaningful negotiations to end the occupation and realize a two State solution based on UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”

[UNSCO website, April 30, 2021]

The acts of terror and war crimes being committed by Hamas are not new. In previous cycles of violence and on other sporadic occasions, Hamas similarly fired hundreds if not thousands of missiles from Gaza indiscriminately targeting Israel’s civilian population.

Given the unequivocal terrorist nature and actions of Hamas - and the terror organization’s openly stated goal to destroy all of Israel - there can be no doubt that the organization should never be allowed to legitimately participate in any process, let alone a so-called “democratic” process.  

The claim that “prior agreements” between Israel and the Palestinians approved, necessitated, or condoned the participation of groups designated by Israel and the international community as terror organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP in the PA elections is false.

In fact, the Israeli-Palestinian signed agreements require the PA to combat terror. In the preamble to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (“the Oslo Accords”) the parties reaffirmed their “mutual commitment to act, in accordance with this Agreement, immediately, efficiently and effectively against acts or threats of terrorism, violence or incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.” Article XV of the agreement continued saying “Both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other…”

Annex I to the agreement – the Protocol Concerning Redeployment and Security Arrangements – added, inter alia, multiple provisions regarding the task of the PA police to “act systematically against all expressions of violence and terror” (art. II(1)(b), “arrest and prosecute individuals who are suspected of perpetrating acts of violence and terror” (art. II(1)(d) and “act to ensure the immediate, efficient and effective handling of any incident involving a threat or act of terrorism, violence or incitement…” (art. II(2)

These commitments require the PA to actively and effectively fight terror. They can in no way be construed as Israeli agreement that the PA not only allow the terror organizations to exist and function, but also to allow them to participate in the PA elections.

Neither these nor any other provision of the so-called “prior agreements” could force Israel to allow homicidal terror organizations to participate in elections in Jerusalem, in complete contravention of Israeli law.

The fundamental question therefore, is why the EU and the UN are willing to allow and actively support the participation of Hamas in the PA elections?

Hamas is an internationally designated terror organization that systematically uses terror and violence against Israel, including firing thousands of missiles indiscriminately targeting Israel’s civilian population. How could a PA election in which Hamas participates and potentially wins, possibly serve any constructive peace process between Israel and the Palestinians?

If the EU and the UN are truly committed to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, they should immediately denounce Hamas and its actions and demand that Abbas fulfill the PA commitments to combat terror. They should further clarify and stipulate that they will not accept, recognize, or support any PA election process in which terror organizations and terrorists participate.

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