Palestinian PM: World too focused on Oct. 7 massacre

While there are currently no direct talks between Fatah and Hamas, Russia has invited all of the Palestinian factions to a meeting in Moscow, said P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

By Joshua Marks | | Topics: palestinians, Hamas
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visits in the West Bank town of Hawara, near Nablus, March 1, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visits in the West Bank town of Hawara, near Nablus, March 1, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Sunday that international leaders gathered in Germany for the 60th Munich Security Conference are too focused on the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7.

“One should not continue focusing on Oct. 7. No way that we accept any killing of innocent people. This is something that we should put behind ourselves,” said Shtayyeh during an interview at the summit in which he mostly avoided questions about the massacre and whether Hamas should be part of a unity government.

Shtayyeh later clarified his remarks in an interview with Qatari state media afterward, telling Al Jazeera that “quite a number of people here [at the Munich conference] only focus on Oct. 7. Yes, Oct. 7 is a major event,” but “Palestinian suffering did not start on Oct. 7. Palestinians have been suffering for the last 75 years…we need an end to the struggle. Don’t deal with the cosmetics, you should deal with the roots of the problem, which is Israeli occupation.”

In the earlier Munich interview, Shtayyeh avoided directly answering whether he thought Israel would stop until the threat was over and security was restored in the wake of Hamas’s slaughter of 1,200 people.

He went into a one-sided history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead, saying that “we don’t accept civilians being killed, but we should not allow the cycle of violence every now and then to repeat itself.”

He also called the Hamas terrorist group “an integral part of the Palestinian political arena.”

For the terrorist group to become a member of the PLO, he continued, “there are certain prerequisites; that Hamas has to accept the political platform of the PLO, that we have an understanding on issues that has to do with resistance, that we are calling for popular resistance and not anything else.”

He said that there were currently no direct talks between Fatah and Hamas but that Russia has invited all of the Palestinian factions for a meeting on Feb. 26 in Moscow.

“We will see. If Hamas is ready…we will engage. If they are not ready, that is a different story. We need a Palestinian unity under any circumstances,” he said.

Arab media outlets reported last week that the PA is inching closer to an agreement that would see Hamas become part of the Western-backed leadership in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Sources in Ramallah told Sky News Arabia that Hamas had approved a three-phase plan leading to “complete reconciliation [with Fatah]” and joining the Palestine Liberation Organization, which controls the PA, under a “unified Palestinian-Arab vision.”

The Islamist group reportedly also gave its blessing to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s proposal to establish a “government of technocrats” whose primary purpose would be the reconstruction of Gaza.

According to Sky News, Hamas has not requested any ministerial posts at this point, but did demand a “clear political horizon” towards establishing a Palestinian state as a condition for the unity deal.

Additionally, during the Munich interview, Shtayyeh also claimed that Jesus was “born in Palestine,” when in fact he was born in Roman-ruled Judea, another instance of the long and documented history of Palestinian officials denying Jewish historical ties to Israel.


Biden administration seeking ways to fund PA

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the Biden administration is looking for ways to financially support the cash-strapped PA, which the United States hopes will govern a post-Hamas Gaza.

However, in order to do so the United States must circumvent a law that prevents direct contributions to Ramallah.

US officials told the Journal that Palestinian officials are warning that they could run out of money to pay salaries and provide essential government services by the end of this month.

The Biden administration is concerned that what they describe as the “revitalized” PA they want to rule Gaza after Hamas is defeated might not even be able to maintain its grip on power in Judea and Samaria without more money and become more vulnerable to extremist groups and a deteriorating security situation.

Israel’s Security Cabinet last month approved a decision to freeze funds from reaching the Palestinian Authority that the latter planned to send to the Gaza Strip. Instead, Jerusalem will channel the money to a third party, Norway, for safekeeping.

The decision, which enjoys US backing, prevents Gaza-earmarked funds from reaching the PA “under any circumstances” unless approved by the finance minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Israel’s Finance Ministry collects taxes and customs duties on behalf of the PA, which it transfers to the entity monthly.

On Nov. 2, although agreeing to send the revenue to the PA, the Security Cabinet voted to freeze funds equivalent to those the PA sends to the Gaza Strip. The decision came at the insistence of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.