Opinion |

Netanyahu Needs a Strong Hamas in Gaza

Dmitry Shumsky
Dmitry Shumsky
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Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents in his office in Gaza City, May 10, 2018.
Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents in his office in Gaza City, May 10, 2018.Credit: Khalil Hamra / AP
Dmitry Shumsky
Dmitry Shumsky

Most Israelis are unaware of the reason underlying the extreme brazenness of Hamas, which is spearheading rocket attacks taking a toll on our lives like never before. The reason is that the leaders of this terror organization know that Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t only reluctant to end Hamas’ hold in the Gaza Strip, it wants to preserve it.

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Ever since Netanyahu came to power in 2009, he signed “an unwritten pact with Hamas,” in the words of Haim Ramon, a former deputy prime minister and justice minister. The deal was designed to thwart the Palestinian Authority and its leader, perpetuating the rift between Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank in order to weaken President Mahmoud Abbas and maintain the diplomatic freeze, based on the claim that the PA doesn’t represent all Palestinians.

Netanyahu stuck to this stance during the November 2012 air offensive and the 2014 Gaza war, during which Hamas was offered a cease-fire no less than 10 times. Moreover, since 2012, Netanyahu has let Qatar transfer $1 billion to Gaza, at least half of which has gone to Hamas, including its military wing.

For Netanyahu, there is reason to keeping Israel’s citizens hostage to Hamas: so that the PA doesn’t return to rule Gaza. This will ensure that the “disastrous” diplomatic process doesn’t resume.

In his Hebrew-language book “Against the Wind,” Haim Ramon provides fascinating evidence that supports his claim about this unwritten pact between Netanyahu and Hamas. Netanyahu’s motives are related to his commitment to the idea of an undivided Land of Israel and his striving to prevent circumstances that would allow a Palestinian state to be established.

The Jerusalem Post reported on March 12, 2019 that Netanyahu, speaking to Likud’s Knesset caucus, said that “whoever is against a Palestinian state should be for” – as the paper then described it in its own words – “transferring the funds to Gaza, because maintaining a separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza helps prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.” (This is on page 417 of Ramon’s book.)

In an interview with the Ynet website on May 5, 2019, a close associate of the prime minister, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, said that “the truth must be stated: Netanyahu’s strategy is to prevent a two-state option, so he has made Hamas his closest partner. Overtly, Hamas is the enemy. Covertly, it’s an ally.”

Ramon also notes a tweet by Channel 13 News on May 20, 2019 that quotes former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: “Netanyahu does not want a two-state solution, preferring a separation between Gaza and the West Bank, as he told me in 2010.” Mubarak said this in an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba.

Undoubtedly, Netanyahu’s court pyromaniac, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana – under the quiet guidance of his boss or on his own initiative to please his revered master – acted in a calculated way to stoke police provocations on the Temple Mount and in East Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan. The idea was that the conflagration would scorch any hope of forming a pro-change government, dragging the country into a fifth election, with the right wing ensured a staggering victory following the public’s radicalization after a new bloody round in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To thwart this malevolent plan, the center-left must open the public’s eyes and flood Israelis with firm evidence that the bolstering of Hamas’ rule in Gaza is part and parcel of Netanyahu’s diplomatic strategy, which aims to prevent even a trace of a chance of returning to the negotiating table with a moderate Palestinian leadership.

The public must recognize this simple equation: The continued rule of Netanyahu, as well as of any right-wing coalition that opposes a diplomatic solution and a dividing of the land, means the continued flourishing of a Hamas government and further routine, lethal rocket fire against Israel. Bibi needs a strong Hamas; this should be the new slogan of Netanyahu’s opponents.

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