Likud officials are reporting that during a Monday meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued in favor of continuing to allow funding to be transferred to Hamas, arguing that it is the bes way to keep the Palestinians divided.
This seems to fall neatly into the category of Israeli policies that have fairly obviously been in place, but which officials don’t publicly talk about. With the election looming, Netanyahu is increasingly frank about his efforts to undercut Palestinian statehood, and his conviction that Israeli is not a state for all of its people, but only for Jews.
Indeed, Netanyahu argued in this case that those opposed to Palestinian statehood should be in favor of continuing to fund Hamas, as it keeps them and the Palestinian Authority divided. This division is often cited by Israel as a reason Palestine can’t exist.
Palestinian division is not something Israel just sort of favors, but rather something that’s been pursued as formal policy for decades. Indeed, the early groundwork in founding Hamas was heavily lain by Israel themselves, with an eye toward splitting the Palestinians along secularist and Islamist lines.
This is a major reason why every international attempt at Palestinian unity, and talk of a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement with free elections in the occupied territories is met with Israeli opposition. It’s not, as officials would claim, that Hamas is untrustworthy. Rather, it is that if Hamas is part of a united Palestine, they aren’t doing the job Israel created them for.
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