Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz (pictured), equated Gaza’s Hamas rulers with the jihadist horde known as the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) during a panel discussion this week.
Such groups, said Steinitz, “fight against all infidels,” which in their eyes include Jews, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and moderate Muslims. Along with Hamas and ISIS, Steinitz listed Al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front and Islamic Jihad in the same category.
These groups previously worked behind the scenes, but more recently have come to the forefront and are now bringing entire cities and territories under their direct control.
Hamas is an Arabic acronym meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement.” It was founded in 1987 with the express purpose of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. For this reason, Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, however, has once again accused Israel of being the obstacle to peace.
“We have been trying to reach a peace agreement for so many years. But Israeli intransigence has prevented this from happening,” he insisted, explaining that “the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory [sic] has prevented us from achieving this. Israel must admit that the Palestinians deserve to have their own independent state.”
The Middle East Quartet (comprised of the UN, United States, European Union and Russia) demanded at a recent security summit in Munich the immediate resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
But negotiations remain at an impasse.
The Palestinians decry fresh construction in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, which they say includes the eastern side of Jerusalem. For its part, Israel is outraged that Hamas, which remains committed to the violent destruction of Israel, is part of a new Palestinian unity government under “moderate” President Mahmoud Abbas.