JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ stated recognition of Israel’s right to exist is part of a “political calculation” aimed at ultimately destroying the Jewish state, a terror group leader and member of Abbas’ Fatah party told WND in an interview.
The leader said the Fatah party does not recognize Israel and that any final accord that doesn’t include flooding the Jewish state with millions of Palestinians will not be supported by the Fatah party and will lead to Palestinian civil war.
“The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Acco,” said Abu Ahmed, Fatah member and leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip. “There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations.”
The Brigades is the declared “military wing” of Abbas’ Fatah party. Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv this past April that killed an American teenager and nine Israelis. The Brigades also has carried out scores of deadly shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in recent months.
Brigades leaders are members of Fatah. The terror group’s founder, Marwan Barghouti, is an elected Fatah official and is largely considered one of the most popular Fatah figures. Several top Brigades members serve in Abbas’ Force 17 personal security detail.
Abbas and Hamas the past few months have been negotiating the possibility of forming a national unity government in part to end international sanctions imposed on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won the majority of parliamentary seats earlier this year. But the unity talks reportedly fell through because of Hamas’ refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Fatah and Hamas have been clashing in Gaza and the West Bank the past few days.
The U.S. and Europe label Hamas a terror group, while Fatah largely is considered “moderate,” in part for its purported willingness to accept Israel. The U.S. has given large sums of financial aid and weapons to Fatah since late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accords with the Jewish state in 1993.
Abu Ahmed explained Fatah itself has never officially recognized Israel.
“It is the PLO, which is a separate entity, that recognized Israel,and this was a step, a tactical step that had as its goal to bring the resistance and the revolution closer to the lands of Palestine,” Abu Ahmed said.
The PLO was the official governing body of the Palestinians until the A was formed following the Oslo Accords. Subsequent Israeli-Palestinian agreements were signed officially by the Fatah-led PA but not by Fatah as a party.
Still, Fatah leaders, including Abbas, have made scores of statements recognizing the Jewish state.
But Abu Ahmed commented, “There is an opportunistic class at the head of the Fatah leadership that for personal and political interests says it accepts the existence of Israel. There is no change in our official position. Fatah as a movement never recognized Israel. It is the PLO who did so for the reasons I mentioned.”
‘Al Aqsa Brigades loyal to Abbas’
The U.S. State Department considers the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades a terror organization.
A State Department spokesman yesterday told WND the Brigades is “separate” from Abbas’ Fatah party. But Abu Ahmed explained his Brigades group is “one and the same” with the Fatah party.
“We are members of Fatah, and there are normal organic relations between us and the Fatah. We are in the Al Aqsa Brigades because we are Fatah members. We participate in all political decisions making of the Fatah movement.”
Abu Ahmed said Brigades members consider Abbas their legitimate leader and answer ultimately to the PA president.
“Of course we are loyal to Abbas. He is our elected leader. We would of course prefer if his policy toward Israel was different, but we understand his obligations and calculations, and we do not consider ourselves limited by these calculations,” the terror leader said.
Abu Ahmed explained the difference between Hamas and Fatah is that the Fatah party “is ready to discuss a political arrangement for the Jews.”
But he said any arrangement must include the “right of return” of millions of Palestinians to Israel.
“We demand [any agreement with Israel] be based upon the principles that the great majority of our people support and first of all the right of return to the refugees, which mean that there cannot be any recognition of the Zionist entity.
“If any Palestinian government will dare sign a deal without this it means that this government has decided to throw away the fate and destiny of more than four million Palestinian refugees, and we cannot accept this.”
The “right of return” is widely seen by Israelis as a ploy to flood Israel with millions of Palestinians, thus threatening the country’s Jewish character.
Israel has a population of about 6.9 million; about 5.3 million are Jewish; nearly 1.3 million are Arab. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank claim a population of 3.8, but recent studies found the current Palestinian population may be inflated by up to 50 percent, with some major cities even being counted twice.
Abu Ahmed pointed to recent opinion polls showing upwards of 70 percent of the Palestinian public does not support Israel’s right to exist.
He warned if the PA concludes an agreement with Israel that does not include the “right of return,” it will result in civil war.
“We will fight such a government that would make an agreement (without the “right of return”), even if this may lead to a civil war. We are of course not interested in such a war but we want to ensure that any political process does not give up any of our holy principles,” Abu Ahmed said.