Leaders of Islamist movements from Palestine and Lebanon, such as al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya [the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood], Hizbullah, Hamas and Hizb-ut-Tahrir are reported to have met in order to discuss the current situation in the region, focusing on the attempts for reconciliation and President Obama’s upcoming plan to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Islamist leaders who attended the meeting are reported to have agreed that ‘the new American plan aspires to liquidate the Palestinian problem, and poses one of the most dangerous American plans in the region. Therefore it needs to be opposed in all possible forms, in particular by increasing acts of resistance [muqawama] and opposing Israeli efforts towards a normalisation of their relations with Arab countries as well as American involvement in such initiatives.’
The report goes on to inform us that these Islamist parties will be organizing two meetings: one to plot against the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the other to ‘encourage the choice of resistance against American plans in the region’.
This isn’t the first time the Brotherhood and Hamas have sought to serve as spoilers (see this2007 NEFA Foundation report). President Obama has invested a lot of political capital into hisoutreach to the Muslim world, which may include Islamists, but what happens when we discover yet again that the Brotherhood, Hamas, and friends are not interested in a two-state solution? And not interested in anything short of the establishment of Islamic governments, except as an interim measure?
I am convinced that any peace deal would need to include Hamas in some way, and much noise has been made over Hamas’ supposed willingness to accept a peace deal at the 1967 borders. Yet this meeting in Beirut indicates that Hamas remains intent on sabotaging a peace deal. Hamas does speak in two voices, but their actions are less ambiguous.
The lesson? We should not put so much stock in the public statements of Islamist leaders – their ‘private’ actions must be considered as well.