Haniyeh and the ‘Terror List’

The US does not want moderate Palestinians: only capitulators or terrorists.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The placing of Hamas Political Bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh on the US’ terrorist list is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people. It shuts all the doors of peace in their face to drive them to despair and desparation, and is an encouragement to radical elements among them to carry out acts of revenge of a violent or terrorist nature. America does not want us on the face of this earth. It wants to totally erase our identity and our existence.

It is beyond comprehension how Hamas – starved and besieged in the Gaza Strip along with the two million Palestinians it governs – can be “threatening stability in the Middle East” or “undermining the peace process with Israel,” as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson maintained. Every act of resistance Hamas has ever carried out has been within occupied Palestinian territory. Not once since its inception has the movement staged an attack abroad against the occupation state, nor against the US that backs its aggression, although it is capable of doing so. This despite the fact that the Israelis and their security agencies like Mossad have made numerous assassination attempts against Hamas figures in other countries, most recently the car bombing which targeted Muhammad Hamdan in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

By casting Haniyeh, a conciliatory and moderate figure, as a ‘global terrorist’ and blacklisting him, the US is equating him with Islamic State (IS)’s Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi and the heads of other hardline Islamist groups. Ironically, this unwarranted and provocative American decision comes less than a year after Hamas amended its Charter to accept a Palestinian state confined to the territories occupied in 1967, signed a reconciliation agreement with Fateh, and handed all Gaza’s crossing-points and government premises over to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It is as though the current US administration is telling Haniyeh and through him Hamas: We don’t want you to be moderate. We would rather you were extremist terrorists who blow up Israel embassies and assassinate American diplomats abroad, and join the ranks of Syrian and Iraqi resistors fighting against US forces in the region.

The US does not want moderate Palestinians. It wants only two types of Palestinians. Either cringing and submissive Palestinians who go down on their knees to kiss the boots of the Israeli occupier, and praise the Lord day and night in gratitude for the blessings of the occupation, colonization, oppression, siege, and humiliation meted out at checkpoints and behind bars Or Palestinians who put on explosive belts and blow themselves up in the world’s airports, sports stadiums and tourist reports.

In this ugly American age, it has become impermissible for a Palestinian to describe Israel as the enemy, to utter the word ‘resistance’, to criticize the settlements or to liken Israel’s racism to its South African or Rhodesian equivalents. Anyone who does becomes a terrorist, anti-Semite and enemy of peace.

What did the US, leader of the free world, offer Palestinian President (PA) Mahmoud Abbas after he engineered the Oslo Accords, deemed security cooperation to protect Israeli settlers to be a sacrosanct achievement that should never be abandoned, renounced his own and his family’s right to return to his birthplace of Safad, and was reduced to a travel agent for the occupation state: urging Arabs and Muslims to visit occupied Jerusalem when he himself is unable to visit the city or pray in its al-Aqsa Mosque?

What was the reward given by President Trump for the valuable services Abbas rendered him by preventing armed resistance or a mass uprising and maintaining security cooperation with Israel? Trump’s recognition of the Holy City as the eternal capital of Israel, and a pledge to move the US embassy there by the end of next year. This was followed by the cutting off of $65 million in aid to UNRWA — which means depriving 5.5 million Palestinians in the refugee camps in the camps in the Occupied Territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, putting some 20,000 teachers out of work, and jeopardizing their very modest heath and education services.

The hardline wing of Hamas, along with any other group that sees Palestinians facing the threat of looming death through hunger or disease, could well conclude: So long as we have already been put on the terrorist list, why don’t we rise to the level of the accusation and become actual terrorists? Isn’t that what America wants?

We used to complain about Israeli racism towards the Palestinians and now we must also confront American racism that is filled with hatred and malice and wants us to be exterminated politically and existentially.

With such malevolent racist policies in support of Israel oppression, it is the US that is threatening peace and security and fuelling violence in the Middle East, not Ismail Haniyeh or Hamas.