TEL AVIV – Hamas and Iran-backed Islamic Jihad announced that they will collaborate to halt a French-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
“Hamas and Islamic Jihad will step up cooperation between them to defend the Palestinian cause from initiatives that are meant to undermine it, including the French effort, which we reject,” they said in an unusual joint statement.
Dr Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas’ deputy diplomatic leader, as well as Ramadan Shallah (pictured) and Ziad Nahaleh, Islamic Jihad’s secretary-general and his deputy, held a coordination meeting in Beirut dedicated to opposing the French initiative.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they prioritize the intra-Palestinian reconciliation process, “in order to decide on a single national strategy for dealing with the occupation.”
Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad’s joint statement comes in the wake of a statement issued by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the second-largest member of the PLO, that “the Palestinians will not be committed to the resolutions made at the Paris conference, because they are a new manifestation of the West’s long-held Zionist bias.”
“Kick-starting the peace process,” the alleged goal of the Paris conference, is “yet another effort to reassign international and regional roles based on the same diplomatic principles that have guided the American government in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue,” the PFLP said.
They also rejected French President Francois Hollande’s statement that both sides need to make concessions for the advancement of the peace process.
“These comments only reward the occupation, and encourage it to continue its crimes and terror, while the Palestinians are subjected to security and economic restrictions,” the statement said.
Despite its own lingering problem of domestic Islamic extremism, France has turned its sights on attempting to solve the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict, holding a “peace” summit last Friday without the participation of either Israel or the Palestinian Authority.
Hollande kicked off the conference by strongly implying that the failure to create a Palestinian state is at the heart of all the problems of the Middle East.
“Violence is growing and hope is fading — that’s why we want to try and revive the peace process. We must work to realize that in the regional context a diplomatic vacuum will be filled by extremism and terror,” Hollande stated.
“Considerable progress has been made, but there is still no peace,” Hollande said. “France doesn’t seek anything for itself. Its sole purpose is to foster peace.”
Hollande seemed to be glossing over sectarian violence in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and beyond, conflicts that do not center around Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Ignoring rampant Palestinian terrorism and official Palestinian Authority incitement to violence, the French Foreign Ministry explained one day before a summit on the proposal that Mideast peace is under threat, “particularly with regard to continued settlement activities.”
In other words, in the French view, Jewish construction projects in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank are the main impediment to peace, and not the Palestinians’ support for terrorism or their decades-long refusal to reach a final-status deal despite Israeli willingness to do so.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has refused repeated Israeli offers to begin negotiations and has not responded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unprecedented gestures to jumpstart talks, including a temporary freeze on settlements and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Abbas also walked away from the offer of a state from then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2007. Yasser Arafat rejected U.S.-mediated talks at Camp David in 2000, instead returning to the West Bank to launch an intifada, or terror war, targeting Israelis.
The Camp David talks offered Arafat a generous state in Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem, including authority over the Temple Mount, according to reports.