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Hamas Minister Vows to Protect Terrorists: No Arrests

Hamas has appointed their new Interior Minister, Saeed Seyam, who arrived on the scene leaving few questions regarding the Hamas approach to internal security. “The day will never come when any Palestinian would be arrested because of his political affiliation or because of resisting the occupation,” he said in an interview. He swore to protect Palestinian terror groups in the name of resistance proclaiming, “Saeed Seyam did not come to the government to revive any security cooperation or to protect the occupation and their settlers. I came to protect our people and their fighters, to protect their trees, their properties and their capabilities.” Sayem pronounced that, under his watch, the various Palestinian groups, rather than be arrested for attacks on Israelis, will be coordinated with for ‘day-to-day’ security issues.

This is the character that can be expected from a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, and the principal reason that Israel has sealed their borders to the point of even blocking Palestinians who have held permits to work in Israel. Hamas’ character is not serving the Palestinian people on the economic front in this regard, and Hamas remains unapologetic in its uncompromising approach to confrontation with Israel. The Palestinian Authority – and the Palestinian people it serves – remains dependent on Israel. Fully 21% of the Palestinian economy is already constituted by outside aid. Another significant segment of their economy relies upon cross-border trade with and employment within the very Jewish state which Hamas vows to destroy in both its charter and in its regular rhetoric.

This presents no small measure of irony as Palestinians decry border closures that happen after attacks or threats on their people, yet demand that the very state under constant, violent, bloody attack must allow the attacking society access to their stated enemy’s booming economy. Perhaps the Palestinians should either choose peace and economic access or bloody warfare and the resultant total self-sufficiency. As Israel has denied access to Palestinian workers, it appears Israel has made this choice for them.

Yet, just as Hamas puts forth an openly contentious front, Mahmoud Abbas and the defeated Fatah leadership continue to resist the Hamas elected majority, including recent revelations of plans for secret peace talks with Israel and the US. Said Abbas, “I am convinced that within less than a year, we will be able to sign an agreement.” But Israel doubts, regardless of Abbas’ intentions, that Fatah has any power with which to bring any such negotiations and their potential resultant agreements to fruition within the Palestinian Authority.

Increasingly, the division between Hamas and Fatah is not limited to battles between Abbas and the Hamas-led parliament and can be seen clearly in towns like Kalkilya in the Territories, where the Hamas mayor has come under attack on numerous occasions, including the late night drive-by shooting that pounded his car parked in his driveway. Like most incidents, these are intended to send a message. Some Palestinians have already begun to ask, ‘What has Hamas done for us?’ So goes the uncomfortable transition from battle cry to governance.

So, while the US has delayed a decision on Palestinian aid until after the Palestinian cabinet is officially formed Sunday, the eventual decision can be foreshadowed with reliable accuracy by listening to the rhetoric of the men nominated to become ministers. If the Interior Minister will not arrest terrorists after attacking Israeli civilians and goes so far as to defend them and protect the ‘fighters’, there is little room for nuance from the West or taqiyyah from Hamas.


Hamas ought to realize that the world is watching every move and every word.

To be taken seriously and to avoid the threat of isolation and failure Hamas must accept previously agreed accords and agreements. It must recognize Israel and declare its readiness to negotiate peace with Israel. It must distance itself from Tehran and renounce violence as a means to achieve political end.

It has to transform itself into a responsible political party and act in the best interests of the people who voted for it.

Making irresponsible and contradictory statements do not serve the Palestinian people. Hamas must decide whether it is a genuine political party or a a satellite of Tehran.

Israel however must engage with Hamas and stop dodging, weaving and prevaricating as it did with the secular Arafat and the moderate Abbas.
Undermining Abbas, helped Hamas to win power.

Both sides need each other to make real and lasting peace.

nehad ismail
commentator on Middle Eastern Affairs, based in UK