Diplomats, media and peace activists apparently eager to paint Israel as the main obstacle to peace have been quick to publish and point to numerous reports that Hamas is being encouraged and has even agreed to recognize Israel as part of its unity agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
It would seem that those reports were either premature or purposely embellished, and that those who latched on to them should have first done some rudimentary fact-checking.
In just about every case, the subject of those reports - from the Palestinian Authority to Egypt to Hamas itself - has subsequently denied making any conciliatory gesture or remark toward Israel.
Soon after the PA-Hamas deal was announced, The Washington Post and others tried to blunt Jerusalem’s sharp criticism by quoting Palestinians officials who said the agreement would include recognition of Israel.
Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu was quoted by the Post as agreeing with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ purported statement that his group must accept Israel’s right to exist. Now, Nunu is threatening to sue the newspaper for misrepresenting himself and Hamas.
“What I was quoted as telling the American paper is wrong, and I unequivocally deny it,” Nunu told Palestinian media. “The issue of Hamas recognizing Israel is a complete nonstarter.”
Abbas’ own spokesmen later contradicted the Palestinian leader’s own statements on the matter. In an interview with the London-based daily Al-Hayat, one senior PA official insisted Abbas had never required Hamas to recognize Israel as part of the Palestinian unity pact.
Whatever Abbas and Hamas did or didn’t say, at least Egypt, which brokered Palestinian unity, is pressing Hamas to recognize Israel. Former Egyptian foreign minister and head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, even said as much in remarks to France’s AFP news agency. Except that, oops, no, actually he didn’t. On Tuesday, Moussa’s office issued a statement denying that he had told AFP that Hamas must recognize Israel.
As evidence that no one in the Arab world is really pressing Hamas to recognize Israel, the group has actually been moving in the opposition direction, validating the very reason Israel sees the Palestinian unity deal as yet another insurmountable obstacle to peace.
“With the invader we will not make any compromises,” Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Tuesday during an event in Doha. “The reconciliation does not mean an end to our resistance against the invaders, resistance will continue as long as the occupation exists.”
Hamas refers to Israel as a foreign “invader,” uses “resistance” as a euphemism for what most define as terrorism, and insists that the “occupation” encompasses the entirety of the Land of Israel.