Hamas’s Gaza prime minister on Tuesday outlined the movement’s next goal in its struggle: the West Bank.
After eight days of intense fighting in Israel, the strip’s Islamist rulers emerged in the Palestinian narrative as victorious against Israel, managing to sideline Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the Arab street and reignite talks of unification between the factions.
Hamas has historically been only a marginal force in the West Bank, but with its newfound popularity, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said his group was looking to expand its reach into the Palestinian heartland in its bid to lay claim to the land.
“The West Bank will be central in deciding the struggle with the occupation,” Ismail Haniyeh declared during a ceremony honoring the victims of Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.“[The West Bank] is central for its historic and geographic value, as well as its proximity to the enemy’s occupied cities.”...Haniyeh defined the present days as an intermediate stage between two historic phases; the first including “preparation and development” and the second characterized by “mobilization and liberation of our land and our Jerusalem.”
The land in question, Haniyeh stressed, is not merely Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem — a subtle reference to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent Channel 2 interview in which he acknowledged all land beyond the Green Line as “Israel” — but rather “Palestine as we know it, whose borders were drawn by our heroes from Ras Al-Naqoura to Rafah and from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River.”
Ras al Naqoura is the Arab name for the northern Israeli town of Rosh Hanikra."