The Al Aqsa intifada was marked with escalating rhetoric of resistance by Hamas, overshadowing the attempt by Abbas to address violations embedded within the conflict since the Oslo agreements. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank commemorated the anniversary of the second intifada, triggered by Ariel Sharon’s visit in 2000, by staging protests against Zionist violence and control over the holy site.
The acts of remembrance in Palestinian collective memory were framed within two diverging expressions of authority. While Hamas affirmed its refusal to recognise the Israeli occupation, Abbas maintained a milder stance in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, calling for a cessation of Israeli attacks upon Palestinian worshippers. Apart from the immediate disparity between Abbas’ pleas and the assertion of Hamas, the difference between both viewpoints lies in the maintained political stances. While Abbas pursues a continuation of conformity with Israel and its imperial allies in the name of security concerns, Hamas entrenches its discourse within the right of resistance.
According to Abbas, “There must be an end to the near-daily attacks on the religious sites in occupied al-Quds, at the forefront of which is al-Aqsa Mosque, where the continuation of such attacks will have dire consequences”. These words, spoken at the international institution renowned for its support of the illegal occupation, are unlikely to generate any sentiment further than a fleeting sympathy. The al-Aqsa intifada symbolises a particular phase of Palestinian resistance against Zionist violence. However, isolating the violence inflicted upon Palestinians at al-Aqsa from the reality of the occupation enforces a disassociation between history and the present. Abbas’ declaration against violence should have maintained recognition of the events which prompted the second intifada, as well as a declaration against the illegal occupation and its intent to eradicate every semblance of Palestinian history and identity. Warning against dire consequences is a reality which, at the same time, generates an element of betrayal for Palestinians, whose rights should be at the forefront of any speech made by a governmental representative, instead of being relegated to the bargaining narrative in return for consolidating the rhetoric of security.
Conversely, the declaration of resistance asserted by Hamas did not embody any disassociation from the history of the illegal occupation. Asserting Palestinians’ right to ‘all of Palestine’, as opposed to the fabricated two state solution does not grant any semblance of legitimacy to Israel, affirming Palestinian rights to land and nationhood. The call for resistance acknowledged the symbolism of al-Aqsa and Zionist intentions to Judaize Jerusalem, which takes into consideration not only the anniversary and the symbolism associated with al-Aqsa, but also the crimes committed by Zionists in the holy site as part of a greater plan of oppression and eradication of heritage. The movement retained and renewed its previous stance against security coordination between Israel and Fatah, thus disassociating itself constantly from the betrayal of Palestinian people with calls for autonomy as opposed to negotiations favouring Israel. “We urge the Palestinian forces to reject the absurd negotiation course, which has proven to be fruitless and has failed to realise the aspirations of our people.” Hamas has articulated what Fatah fails to acknowledge – the illusory peace talks, and rhetoric of concern about violations in light of the alleged progress has served the objective of strengthening Israel’s imperialist-aided supremacy.
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