Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal extended a hand to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction on Wednesday, telling France’s Le Figaro newspaper that the terror group is willing to consider joining a P.A.-led governing body for the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.
“Rebuilding the Palestinian political scene without Hamas is a move destined for failure, but we are ready for reorganization within the framework of the PLO as part of a national consensus,” Mashaal told the French daily from his residence in Doha’s embassy district.
“Sooner or later, the United States will argue that Hamas is a reality and enjoys legitimacy among the people,” Mashaal predicted. “We must learn from history. The Americans accepted the Taliban. [PLO founder] Yasser Arafat even won the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,200 people in southwestern Israel “shocked world public opinion, and polls in the U.S. show increased support for the Palestinian cause,” he continued, vowing that Hamas will not be destroyed as it “passed the credibility test against Israel.
“After three months of [Israeli] bombings, our rockets are still reaching Tel Aviv. The one who is worried is not the Palestinian side. … It is clear that we have losses, but they had no consequences for Hamas’s military capabilities or command,” declared Mashaal.
In an interview with Egypt’s ON television channel on Tuesday, P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas had said he hopes to hash out a reconciliation deal with all Palestinian terrorist groups that were “present and absent” during unity talks held in late July, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The negotiations, held in the Egyptian coastal city of El-Alamein, included Hamas terror master Ismail Haniyeh but were boycotted by Iran-backed Islamic Jihad in protest against the P.A.’s detention of its members.
Abbas on Tuesday regurgitated Ramallah’s negotiation positions: the goal of establishing a Palestinian state with international legitimacy, as well as “peaceful resistance” and the “unity of the Palestinian people.” However, other factions do not necessarily agree with these goals, Abbas noted.
In the ON interview, Abbas’s first media appearance since the Oct. 7 attacks, the Palestinian leader again failed to explicitly condemn Hamas’s atrocities, which included mass murder, torture, rape and other sexual offenses.
“After Oct. 7, for three or four days, the public opinion in Europe was against us … but after meetings and contacts with presidents and prime ministers, many of them changed their position,” claimed Abbas, according to a transcript published by the P.A.’s Wafa news agency.
The Biden administration wants the P.A. to take over the Gaza Strip once Israel’s operation there ends, a move that the Israeli government vehemently rejects because of Ramallah’s overt support for terrorism.
The U.S. State Department has refused to rule out the possibility of Hamas retaining power or joining the Palestinian Authority, telling JNS on Dec. 15 that the future of Palestinian leadership is ultimately “a question for the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian Authority’s preferred outcome of Israel’s defensive war against Hamas in Gaza would be for the terrorist organization to join a P.A.-led governing body as a junior partner, Bloomberg quoted P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh as saying earlier this month.
Hamas is an “essential part of the Palestinian political mosaic,” Shtayyeh told world leaders gathered in Qatar on Dec. 10, adding that Jerusalem’s goal of eliminating the Islamist terror group is “unacceptable” to him.
According to a survey released last month, 89% of Palestinians support establishing a government that includes or is led by Hamas. Only around 8.5% said they favor an authority controlled exclusively by Fatah.
A separate poll published on Dec. 13 found that a majority of Palestinians believe Hamas is “the most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people today.”