Hamas: We’ll keep our weapons until the end of the occupationBy Amos Harel, Haaretz Service and News Agencies, April 26, 2005
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said he expects Hamas to hand in its weapons after joining the Palestinian parliament this summer, but gave no indication he would forcefully disarm the militant group. In response, however, Hamas said later Monday it has no intention of disarming in July.
“When a militia turns into a political party I believe the issue of a need for arms becomes irrelevant,” Abbas said.
“Our fingers will remain on the rifle triggers until the removal of the occupation,” Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said.
Masri said Hamas’ participation in elections “does not mean it is on the way to becoming a political party.”
Abbas, who has been under heavy pressure by the United States and Israel to rein in armed groups, was set Monday to meet with the Palestinian groups shortly, Israel Radio reported. While repeatedly calling on militants to halt their attacks on Israel, he has so far refused to take action against them, preferring instead to co-opt them.
Hamas, the largest Palestinian opposition group, has said it will participate in legislative elections set to take place in July. It would be the first time the group has sought a place in the Palestinian parliament.
Abbas welcomed the group’s desire to join the political process, but said the group, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings against Israelis, would be expected to give up its militant tactics after the vote.
“When a movement or militia is transformed into a political party, I would say that there will then be no need for them to possess weapons,” Abbas told reporters. “There will be only one authority, one law, and one legal gun. The issue is very clear, and this has been common practice throughout history.
“But the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud a-Zahar, said Monday he would not agree to give up arms, the radio said.
A-Zahar called on Hamas leaders of Hamas who live abroad to return to Palestinian territory after Israel withdraws from Gaza, Israel Radio reported.
Hamas leaders living abroad, mostly in Syria, include Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas’ political department and one of the group’s most influential leaders abroad.
Under its plan for the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, however, Israel intends to retain control over the land, air and sea entrances and exits to the Gaza Strip.
Islamic Jihad questions value of calmThe Islamic Jihad network in northern Samaria has emerged as one of the most tangible threats to the implementation of the disengagement plan, as the Jihad leadership questions the value of sticking to the policy of calm (tahadiyah).
The Jihad network, encompassing Jenin and Tul Karm and the villages in between, is responsible for the last major attack within Israel—the suicide bombing at the Stage club in Tel Aviv, in which five Israelis were killed.
After the attack, the leadership in Damascus engaged in evasive tactics, designed to escape the flames of the Israeli response, as well as the unexpected fury the attack aroused among Palestinians, who mostly want the calm to continue. But in the past fortnight, various signs have been accumulating that indicate Jihad is back in action.
Last Thursday, in an unusual move for this period, the organization claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device on the Gaza Strip border, moderately wounding an Israel Defense Forces tracker. Israeli intelligence sources also see evidence of the military wing in the northern West Bank having resumed planning major attacks.