Yet another senior Palestinian Authority official has insisted that media reports suggesting that the ruling Western-backed Fatah faction accepts Israel's right to exist, while the defiant Hamas movement does not is utter nonsense contrived to advance Western agendas in the region.
In an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Wednesday, Rafik Natsheh, a member of the powerful Fatah Central Committee, had this to say:
"Fatah does not recognize Israel's right to exist. All these reports about recognizing Israel are false. It's all media nonsense."
Natsheh's remarks came in response to reports that Fatah had recently asked Hamas to meet international requirements that it recognize Israel's right to exist so that a Palestinian national unity government could be formed.
"We don't ask other factions to recognize Israel because we in Fatah have never recognized Israel," he explained.
Natsheh, who also previously served as Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was the second top Fatah official in recent months to admit that his party, so heralded in the West as "moderates" and "true peace partners," in fact has never met its most important peace obligation.
In March, Mohammed Dahlan, a top advisor to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the former Fatah strongman in charge of Gaza, said on Palestinian Authority TV:
"I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today."
Dahlan went on to explain that the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority only pays lip service to recognizing Israel in order to obtain assistance from the international community, both in the form of financial aid and political pressure on Israel.
Earlier this month, Kifah Radaydeh, deputy head of the Jerusalem chapter of Abbas' Fatah faction, sought to reassure Palestinians who worried increasingly active American involvement would actually bring an end to the conflict short of Israel's destruction.
Speaking on Palestinian Authority TV, Radaydeh noted:
"It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine."