First and foremost, we must understand that this agreement between Hamas and Fatah stems from panic.
Selected excerpts from interviews on Israel Radio and Israel Army Radio, 28 April 2011
[Translated from Hebrew]
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: First and foremost, we must understand that this agreement between Hamas and Fatah stems from panic. Khaled Mashaal and the Hamas leadership in Damascus are really in distress and under pressure now. President Assad, Hamas’s patron in Damascus, is firing directly at mosques from tanks, is spraying the protesters with massive fire.
On the other hand, Abu Mazen, who relied on Mubarak, was supported by Mubarak for many years, also sees the earthquake in Egypt and is afraid that within a few months the parent movement of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, will win the elections, so he is also in distress. He, too, senses that the ground is burning beneath him. This distress is pushing them into the hands of the greatest extremists in the Muslim world
Secondly, it should be clear that, from our point of view, such an agreement crosses the red line. In 2003, Hamas was designated a terrorist organization by the European Union. In 2006 the international Quartet formulated the three conditions, which are opposition to any kind of violence, recognition of Israel and honoring previous agreements. Hamas has not fulfilled any of those conditions, so from Israel’s standpoint, the red line has been crossed. Israel has an enormous arsenal of measures at our disposal, but it’s clear that from this moment, we have entered into a different phase.
We won’t conduct negotiations with a terrorist organization. Hamas, which frequently declares that its political objective is the destruction of the State of Israel, is not just making declarations. We’ve seen many murders in recent weeks, from the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar to the murder of Daniel Viflic.
We must now clarify that it’s not just empty threats, and it’s not just theoretical. The State of Israel has a large arsenal of measures that we are capable of taking, from canceling free passage for all Palestinian Authority officials, canceling VIP status for Palestinian Authority officials, including Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad, and halting the transfer of tax money collected by the State of Israel for the Palestinian Authority. I am also considering, for example, the possibility that the State of Israel will not participate in the fundraising conference in June, which meets every few months, a major tool in developing assistance for the Palestinians. But this definitely crosses the red line and we must decide what we are going to do.
The agreement means that active terrorists will be stationed in Judea and Samaria – that’s one of the articles in the agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Fatah will release all Hamas prisoners from Palestinian prisons in Judea and Samaria. That means that hundreds of terrorists will flood the entire area of Judea and Samaria. I don’t need to explain the significance of the movement of terrorists who will now go around armed in Judea and Samaria. So we definitely have to prepare for a different situation.
It is completely clear that should Palestinian elections be held in another year, Hamas will also take control of Judea and Samaria. I don’t think this is a situation in which we can conduct a dialogue. From my standpoint, the approach must be gradual. First we must talk about an interim agreement and only after several years will it be possible to move to a permanent settlement. I think that, even from the standpoint of the US and the European Union, the conclusion must be very clear. I have already heard from the head of Congress that they’re considering halting financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. The US administration had a decisive part in formulating the Quartet conditions. I expect that the international community will also act in accordance with the conditions that it itself formulated.
I think that Hamas does not see in this agreement a stage of establishing Hamas as a political movement, as a way to change from a terrorist organization to a political party but, rather, the opposite. It sees this as an opportunity to drag the Palestinian Authority and Fatah into the bosom of terrorism. So we cannot expect there to be a change in the entire approach to a deal for Shalit, or recognition of the State of Israel, or a retreat from the Hamas charter.