Speaking to MEE, Ismail Haniyeh decries UAE 'normalisation' deal with Israel, and hails 'positive' talks with Fatah
History will show no mercy to the Arab nations that recognise Israel, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, has told Middle East Eye.
Asked about the recent “normalisation” pacts agreed with Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Haniyeh said that any deal an Arab country makes with Israel will eventually threaten that country.
“We know Israeli leaders better than them. We know how they think. We would like to tell our brothers in the United Arab Emirates that they will lose as a result of those agreements because Israel’s only interest is to seek a military and economic foothold in areas close to Iran,” Haniyeh said.
“They will use your country as a doorstep. We don’t want to see the UAE being used as an Israeli launchpad.”
Haniyeh described the Emiratis as “brothers” who had supported the Palestinian cause historically and said Hamas looked forward to the day when they dissociated themselves from the agreement.
“The Zionist project is an expansionist project. Its objective is to create a greater Israel. We don’t want to see the Emiratis or the Bahrainis or the Sudanese being used as vehicles for this project. History will show no mercy, the people will not forget, and humanitarian law will not forgive,” he said.
Security cooperation winding down
Haniyeh said Hamas had detected “positive changes” on the ground in the West Bank as a result of reconciliation talks with rival Palestinian faction Fatah aimed at forming a national unity government.
Haniyeh admitted the challenges were enormous: “We witnessed positive changes on the ground. I do not want to sound over-optimistic and pre-empt events but there are positive things. The challenges are enormous and we are still at the beginning of the road.”
Senior Palestinian sources told MEE that the PA’s security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank had “almost” stopped.
The recent arrest of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas leader, who spent a total of 21 years in prison, was condemned by Fatah’s Jibril Rajoub who is leading negotiations with Hamas.
They said there was formal coordination between Palestinians and Israelis over the movement of officials, but the arrests of Hamas leaders released from prison had stopped and local groups were allowed to celebrate their release and wave Hamas flags publicly.
Haniyeh said Hamas had been vindicated by the collapse of the Oslo peace process, based on the 1993 agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel which created the Palestinian Authority but entrenched Israeli military control over much of the occupied West Bank and failed to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements.
“From the day it was announced, Oslo bore the seeds of its own destruction… Oslo was a failure from day one because it was a security agreement, not a political one,” he said.
Oslo had died, Haniyeh said, when both its signatories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, were killed.