“A Palestinian case against Hamas” – Bassem Eid in AIJAC webinar

June 9, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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With the conduct of Hamas and Jewish-Arab relations in Israel very much front of mind, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) turned to Bassem Eid for its latest webinar. Eid, a Jerusalem-based political analyst, and a pioneer of Palestinian human rights outlined a  “Palestinian Case Against Hamas.”

Bassam Eid

He began by stating there is a lot of misinformation about the violence, and the international community has shown by talking about reconstruction rather than the ceasefire that it hasn’t learnt its lesson – they will reconstruct Gaza and in three to five more years, it will be destroyed again in further fighting.

The international community, he said, is not really trying to help the Palestinians, instead people are using the Palestinians for their own political agendas. His friends in Gaza tell him they want Israel to get rid of Hamas, and say there will only be a “Gaza spring” if there is an “Iranian spring”. They feel they are hostages of Hamas and feel hopeless.

He said people should survey Gaza civilians about their needs because the media only reports what Hamas demands – there is “huge censorship.” He blamed the whole catastrophe on Hamas, pointing out that Hamas shot six rockets towards Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), and that Israel never shoots, it just reacts.

He said the Sheikh Jarrah dispute is “out of the issue”, but that Hamas used it and the violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for politics. He pointed out that Hamas claimed it was defending houses in Sheikh Jarrah, but 1,500 houses were destroyed in Gaza, so, he asked, what is the victory? He said he wants to see Hamas have a victory on water, electricity, sewage and power for Gazans.

He noted that after the violence, Hamas leaders made statements that Israel has no right to exist, so everyone knows the ceasefire is temporary, and the question is how to reach something permanent. His advice is that Israel must be very tough and make it clear that next time will be the end of Hamas rule – only Israel can end Hamas rockets.

He stated, “In my opinion, the Hamas is using its own people, the Hamas is sacrificing is own people. We saw recently how … Hamas leaders hiding themselves in the tunnels, they have shelters to protect themselves. But the other 2 million civilians, they have no shelters…  Hamas is not caring about his people. Hamas … much more care about their own political agenda, how to gain power, and how to gain riches.”

He said the Palestinian Authority (PA) is very weak, and can’t provide anything for Gaza, but wants any reconstruction funds to go through it. The PA, he said, is right now “preparing its pockets” for millions of dollars – much of the Gaza aid that comes to it will be stolen.

He said the cancellation of the Palestinian election played an important role because Hamas then decided to try to achieve through violence what it had hoped to achieve through the election.

On the Sheikh Jarrah controversy, he said the people who moved when the Jews were thrown out in 1948 never tried to register ownership of the land, so it remained in the names of the Jewish owners, so “Now the issue is in front of the court. So it is a legal issue rather than… a political issue,” but Hamas is “trying to climb on it politically.”

He added that Hamas and Fatah are competing with each other to escalate the situation in Jerusalem.

If Hamas had success in the violence, Eid said, it was to destroy co-existence between Jews and Arabs in mixed cities. He said something is broken, and to repair it will take more than a year and will need leaders from both sides.

He pleaded, “I think that the Jews and the Israeli Arabs should have to start realising that this is our country, and we have no other place to live. We should have to live together in peace, in security, in coexistence, in a kind of the best relationship that it could be.”

He added that neighbours burning synagogues and beating and stabbing their neighbours would not solve the Middle East’s problem, and “if there is anyone who can solve the Middle East problems it will be only the Jews and the Arabs, no other third party can do so.”

He described Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas as a real leader who could help rebuild co-existence.

He said lots of organisations benefit from the conflict, which, he said, is like an ATM for those who call for Israel to be destroyed, adding, “ I don’t think that I … as a Palestinian… benefit from destroying Israel.”

Asked about claims that Israel is an apartheid state, he said, “I don’t know how these people can reach the conclusion that Israel is an apartheid,” suggesting that people who thought that way must not have visited Israel and must have been influenced by the media like the New York Times which, he said, are trying to mislead their readers rather than providing information.

He noted that Iran is behind Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, spending millions of dollars every month on them. Iran announced there are three factories in tunnels in Gaza making rockets, and Eid believes there are Iranian engineers there making the rockets.

He added that some people in Gaza allow Hamas to dig tunnels under their houses, or hang pictures of Qassem Soleimani on their walls because Hamas pays them to. He said Trump stopped financing the PA and UNRWA because he knew they were corrupt, so if Biden wants to renew the funding, he should make it conditional on accountability, as the Palestinian people don’t benefit otherwise.

Asked why the intercommunal violence only happened now, he said it was because the Israeli Arabs were incited, including by the Islamic Movement in Israel, and once the streets started flaming, Hamas added oil. He added that there are just a couple of thousand people participating, with only hundreds rioting and demonstrating, but the rest are too scared to speak out against it.

He said he never thought the Palestinian elections would go ahead, because Mahmoud Abbas was under Egyptian and Jordanian pressure to stop them due to the likely success of Hamas, and just wants the status quo to remain.  Eid didn’t think Hamas would have won in the West Bank anyway, because it has no presence there.

To prevent Hamas incitement from working, Eid said, Israeli Arabs need to understand that they have a better life than Palestinians anywhere in the Middle East, and the Israeli government also needs to be more receptive to Arab concerns, such as high unemployment.

Eid said the Abraham Accords still exist and he is very happy about them and thinks they will be very helpful in achieving a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The wealth of the UAE and Bahrain can contribute to both economies, and the UAE has announced it wants to contribute to Gaza’s reconstruction, but not through Hamas.

He said the Palestinian refugees have become hostages to UNRWA, which is trying to defend its own income by inciting Palestinian refugees against Israel. The school curriculum is “horrible”, and has been criticised by Europe. Joe Biden should also make any aid to UNRWA conditional on it improving the curriculum.

Finally, he said a country like Australia should help the Palestinians by focussing on civil projects, donate to the economy and contribute to Gaza’s reconstruction, but not through Hamas.



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