According to a report Tuesday by the New York Times, diplomatic sources in Israel have revealed that US and Israeli officials have been meeting to discuss ways to ‘destabilize’ the recently elected Hamas leadership in Israeli-occupied Palestine.
The report asserted that the US-Israeli plan was to ‘starve the Hamas-led Authority of cash’ to destabilize the regime and allow Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (considered an ‘acceptable’ leader) to call for new elections.
Despite having been democratically elected in what observers have termed ‘the most free and fair elections in the Middle East’ on January 25th, the Hamas Party has come under fire since that time from US, European Union and international funding bodies like the World Bank, who have frozen assets and refused continued funding to a Hamas-led Palestinian government.
A US State Department official, Sean McCormack, denied the report, saying, "There is no plan, there is no plot," and repeated the US demands on Hamas: that Hamas recognise Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror and accept past agreements the Palestinians reached with the Israelis.
Hamas officials in Palestine blew off the report, calling it "insidious and expected".
Aziz Duwaik, a Hamas legislator, asked, in an interview with al-Jazeera television last week, "Which Israel do they want us to recognise? Is it Israel with the West Bank, Israel with the Golan Heights, Israel with East Jerusalem, Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates? Let Israel show us its borders, and then we talk about mutual recognition."
Moussa Abu Marzouk, another Hamas leader, reiterated this position, saying, ""Where are the borders of the Israel we are supposed to recognise?" said Mr Marzouk. "Are the settlements included in the borders of Israel? … Is the return of the refugees acceptable to Israel? Until these questions are answered, it is not possible to propose [recognition]".
Mark Regev, a representative of the Israeli foreign ministry, described as "rubbish" Hamas’s argument that it is unfair and illogical to ask the movement to recognise Israel without a reciprocal Israeli recognition of Palestine, adding, "Israel recognises the Palestinian people’s self-determination and we will negotiate the final borders."
Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Parliament, challenged the Israeli government’s reluctance to recognize the Hamas leadership, saying, "Israel must negotiate with whatever Palestinian leadership is elected by the Palestinian people. As in every conflict throughout history, one does not elect the leadership of the opponent – first, because the opponent will not accept this, and, just as importantly, because an agreement made with such a leadership will not hold."