The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are working together to sabotage a draft resolution drawn up by the United States, condemning the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Hamas fears that if the resolution passes, this will give Israel a “green light” to assassinate the leaders of the movement and invade Gaza in order to remove its rockets and tunnels.

Although reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo have failed, and in spite of continuing sanctions imposed by Mahmoud Abbas on the Gaza Strip, and notwithstanding the vast differences of opinion between the two organizations over the past 10 years, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have joined forces to torpedo a U.S. draft resolution [text below] on which the UN General Assembly is expected to vote on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

The draft resolution was drawn up and led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is soon leaving her position at the United Nations. It includes a demand to condemn the firing of rockets into Israel and incitement to violence by Hamas.

The United Nations is being called upon to denounce Hamas’ usage of civilian resources for military purposes.

Ambassador Haley and Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon are making intense efforts among the ambassadors of other UN member states to pass the resolution denouncing Hamas. The idea is to obtain extensive international condemnation of Hamas’ terror activities, which would put both Hamas and the PLO under pressure.

Riyad Mansour, the PLO’s permanent observer to the United Nations
Riyad Mansour, the PLO’s permanent observer to the United Nations

Riyad Mansour, the PLO’s permanent observer to the United Nations, is working very hard to torpedo the U.S. draft resolution, claiming that it “is intended to cause harm to the entire Palestinian people.”

At the end of November 2018, Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Council, called upon UN member states to reject the U.S. draft resolution condemning Hamas, and he expressed his opposition to the wording of the resolution.

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, has also been working against the draft resolution. On December 2, 2018, he stated that the U.S. draft resolution is a “racist draft” and the Palestinians would fight it in every way possible because it harms their struggle.

“Hamas comes from among us, and we are connected to it. It has a prominent presence among the Palestinian people, and we are opposed to any resolution that turns the ‘resistance’ into a crime. We will not leave Hamas to battle on alone,” Zaki stressed.

In an unprecedented move, Hamas senior official Mousa Abu Marzook praised the Palestinian Authority’s position. He particularly praised the activities of the PLO’s UN observer, Riyad Mansour, and described the position of the Palestinian Authority as “a responsible position that expresses national responsibility toward a nation under occupation.”

Ismail Haniyeh, chairman of the Hamas political bureau, sent a letter to the president of the UN General Assembly in which he protested against the plan to hold a vote on condemning his organization.

“We are a national liberation movement, not a terrorist organization,” Haniyeh claimed.

What Are the Palestinians Worried About?

Ismail Haniyeh, chairman of the Hamas political bureau,
Ismail Haniyeh, chairman of the Hamas political bureau,

The Fatah movement, or the Palestinian Authority, is concerned that a precedent will be created if the UN General Assembly condemns the terror acts against Israel that Fatah refers to as “legitimate resistance” to the occupation.

Fatah also defines itself as “a national liberation movement,” and it claims “resistance to the occupation” is a legitimate activity in accordance with international law. It is playing a double game here. While the PLO renounced violence in the Oslo accords, Fatah, the PLO’s major component, has never abandoned the principle of “armed struggle” against Israel. Senior Fatah officials are thereby dancing at two weddings at the same time.

A senior Fatah official stated that the unity displayed by Fatah and Hamas on this issue reflect the fact that Fatah reserves for itself the option of returning in the future to the “armed struggle” against Israel if there is no significant breakthrough in the deadlocked diplomatic process, and it will ally itself to Hamas through “resistance” (meaning terror).

For this reason, a senior official stated that “Fatah is defending Hamas in the same way that it will defend any other Palestinian faction that follows the principle of ‘resistance.’ In the end, our objective is the same – to liberate ‘Palestine’ and establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. The dispute is only over the method.”

The Hamas leadership is concerned that if the U.S. maneuver is successful in achieving condemnation of Hamas at the UN General Assembly, it will give Israel the “green light” to assassinate senior Hamas officials on the grounds that they are terrorists.

Only recently, Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, was placed on the U.S. list of terrorists, which already includes other Hamas senior officials, such as Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, Rouhi Mushtaq, and Fathi Hamad.

Another concern for Hamas is that if the U.S. draft resolution is passed at the United Nations, it will give Israel the legitimate right to invade the Gaza Strip to destroy the organization’s military capability and hand Gaza over to a local or Arab body.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.