A mass rally held in Gaza City protesting the Annapolis meeting
(Al-Aqsa TV, November 27).
1. The protests of the Annapolis meeting’s opponents in the Palestinian Authority were focused in the Gaza Strip, although there was dissent in Ramallah, Hebron and other locations. The protests in the Strip, which increased in recent days, included the formation of an "rejection committee,” a mass rally and the signing of a covenant opposing concessions at Annapolis . Senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists stressed "the right to return,” making no concessions regarding "all Palestinian land” and continuing and even escalating "the path of resistance” (i.e., terrorism).
2. The participation of Arab League foreign ministers in Annapolis , including the Syrian deputy foreign minister, clearly exposed Iran ‘s isolation in the Arab world . It also illustrated the Iranians’ inability to enlist significant, effective opposition to the meeting. The Iranians sense, as became apparent through their media, that the Annapolis meeting is an American move to form a regional coalition to isolate Iran (the Iranian daily newspaper Kihan , November 25).
The Gazan "rejection committee”
3. On November 26 Hamas convened an "rejection committee” in Gaza City to counter the Annapolis meeting. Calling itself "The Palestinian national committee for the preservation of fundamental principles,” it was composed of senior Hamas and PIJ activists, representatives of the minor terrorist groups and representatives of various bodies operating in the Gaza Strip.
"The Palestinian national committee for the preservation of fundamental principles”
(Palestine-info Website, November 27).
4. The following themes were prominent in the speeches made by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, Osama al-Muzeini and Mahmoud al-Zahar at the rejection committee meeting (Al-Aqsa TV, November 26).
1) Palestinians will not cede an inch of Palestinian soil . " Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [ Jordan ] river [belongs] to the Palestinian people.”
2) Palestinians are faithful to the principle of the refugees’ "right to return ,” which is a "sacred” right; East and West Jerusalem are the capital of Palestine .
3) The goals of the Palestinian people will be advanced by the "resistance,” i.e., violence and terrorism . ( Osama al-Muzeini : "What was taken by force can only be restored by force.”)
4) The Palestinian delegation to Annapolis does not represent the Palestinian people , it has no mandate to negotiate nor does it have the authority to make concessions about the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of the "resistance.” ( Mahmoud al-Zahar : "Whoever opposed the resistance, fights against it, weakens it or collaborates with the occupation against it is a traitor …”)
5) Agreeing to normalization with Israel is forbidden , since it means "providing legitimacy for the occupation” and "a perpetuation of the crumbling of the Palestinian people [and dividing it] into those who support and those who oppose Israel .”
5. Muhammad al-Hindi, PIJ representative, noted the importance of the "paths of jihad and istishhad [death as a martyr for the sake of Allah].” He said that the Israel of today was not the Israel of the past, it could be defeated and its strategic depth could be exposed (Al-Aqsa TV, November 26).
Ismail Haniya: the Palestinians will not cede one inch of Palestinian soil
(Palestine-info Website, November 27).
Signing the covenant against concessions at Annapolis
6. On November 26 Hamas government prime minister Ismail Haniya and Hamas representatives in the Palestinian Legislative Council signed a covenant calling for "adherence to the fundamental principles and resistance to concessions at the Annapolis meeting.”
The covenant signed by the Hamas members
of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
7. Palestinian Legislative Council representatives held a press conference at which Ahmad Baher, acting Council chairman, read the covenant. He stressed "the right of every Palestinian refugee to return to his land” and demanded the release of all the Palestinian prisoners. He said that "not one inch of Palestinian soil can be ceded, nor can its holy places, because they are Wakf [Muslim religious endowment] lands for all Muslims (Qudsnet Website, November 26).
8. On November 26 the Hamas weekly Al-Risala printed the covenant to send a message to the Palestinian and Arab delegations in Annapolis . According to Al-Risala , the covenant is the continuation of the law of "the right to return” which was passed by the Palestinian Legislative Council (convened in the Gaza Strip by Hamas) on November 22.
Mass rally in Gaza City
9. During the afternoon of November 27 Hamas organized a mass rally in Gaza City . Tens of thousands of people attended from all over the Gaza Strip. Speeches were made by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya and senior Hamas and PIJ activists. The Annapolis meeting was denounced and the Arab states were called upon to oppose any recommendation to normalize relations with Israel .
Propaganda in the Hamas media
10. The Hamas-organized rally to oppose the Annapolis meeting was accompanied by a propaganda campaign in the Hamas media, one of whose branches is Al-Aqsa TV. For example, on November 25 there were many programs glorifying the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism and violence), pictures of terrorist operatives training, video tapes of suicide bombers’ "wills,” rockets being launched, side charges being laid and children carrying weapons.
Cartoon from the Hamas newspaper Felesteen: the caption reads "Winds from the autumn conference” [i.e., the Annapolis meeting]. The leaves are inscribed "return,” "resistance” and " Jerusalem ” (November 27).
Terrorist organization spokesmen threaten terrorist attack escalation
11. Abu Abir , spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, announced the beginning of an operation called "Autumn Storm,” in which the organization would launch rockets at western Negev settlements during the Annapolis meeting. He also said that the rockets would carry the message to the whole world that the meeting did not represent the Palestinian people, "and our rockets, which we began firing this morning at Sderot and [Kibbutz] Nahal Oz, are the language we choose to send our messages and to respond to the meeting and to the intention to waive the rights of the Palestinians, and to sell them to further Israeli interests” (Interview conducted by Ali Waked, Ynet correspondent, November 27).
12. The PRC in fact announced they would fire mortar shells and rockets on the morning of November 27 as part of operation "Autumn Storms” (Muqawamah Website, November 27). In point of fact, on November 27 (as of 4 p.m. ) five mortar shells were launched from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel and the Gaza Strip outskirts. The PRC and Fatah claimed responsibility. In addition, during the evening a few rockets were fired into Israel . (No further details available at this time.)
13. Hamas deputy prime minister, Dr. Mussa Abu Marzuq , said that after the Annapolis meeting "resistance actions would escalate,” in every way and by every means, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Palestine-info Website, November 23). He repeated the statement at a preparatory session for the Islamic political party meeting which was held in Tehran on November 24 (IRNA, November 25).
14. At the main ceremony for the anniversary of the founding of the Basij forces (a voluntary paramilitary force), Iranian leader Ali Khamenei said that all the politicians in the world were aware that the Annapolis meeting was doomed to failure. He said that the Americans hoped to use it to prop up "the rapacious, artificial Zionist government” and thus to compensate themselves for past failures. He said he expected the meeting to fail because of the "awareness” of the Palestinian and other peoples, especially the Iranians (Khabar TV, November 26).
Iranian leader Ali Khamenei reviewing the Basij troops
( Iran Daily, November 27).
15. Senior Iranian figures and the Iranian media criticized the Arab states participating at Annapolis :
1) On November 25 Iranian president Ahmadinejad held a telephone conversation with the Saudi Arabian king, during which he told him that "the United States , which is an accomplice to the crimes of Zionism, cannot serve as a mediator and host the Annapolis meeting.” He said that " hopefully the name of Saudi Arabia will not be listed in the group [of Arab states] participating in the Annapolis meeting ”(Fars News Agency, November 25).
2) Ahmadinejad’s advisor, Hussein Shariat Madari , denounced Syria ‘s participation at Annapolis . He said that Iran was surprised by the Syrian position and described Syrian participation as a mistaken decision . He also said that the Palestinian delegation did not represent the Palestinian people: they had elected Hamas, which was not participating in the meeting ( Al-Sharq Al-Awsat , November 27).
3) On November 26 the daily Gumhouri criticized the Egyptian regime, calling it the "Camp David regime,” for its participation in the Annapolis meeting. It accused Hosni Mubarak of being part of an American-Zionist "plot” in which he expressed his willingness to go to Tel Aviv to resolve the disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians ( Gumhouri , November 26).
4) Hundreds of university students in Tehran demonstrated in front of the Jordanian embassy to protest the Annapolis meeting. Their shouted slogans were "Death to the United States ,” "Death to Israel ,” "Death to the compromisers,” " Syria , Syria , shame, shame ” and "We fight, we die, we do not agree to compromise.” The students were confronted by internal security forces (Aasr Iran Website, November 26).
16. The " rejection committee ” which was supposed to meet in Damascus did not do so . "Palestinian sources” in Damascus reported to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam that Syria refused to hold the meeting "because it did not want to seem to be supporting one Palestinian side at the expense of the other” ( Al-Ayyam , November 25. The real reason was probably Syria ‘s participation at Annapolis . According to Al-Hayat ‘s Tehran correspondent, within a few days Iran is expected to host ten Palestinian organizations opposing Annapolis ( Al-Hayat , November 27).
17. In the same context, "Palestinian sources” told the Al-Hayat correspondent in Damascus that on November 26, Walid al-Mualem, the Syrian foreign minister, met with Khaled Mashal, head Hamas’ political bureau, located in Damascus. He had previously met with Hassan Akhtari, the Iranian ambassador to Damascus . The same sources said that al-Mualem explained that’s Syria ‘s main reason for participating in the Annapolis meeting was the supreme national priority of the Golan Heights issue ( Al-Hayat , November 27).