Islamic Jihad chief denounces normalization talks with Israel

Middle East Monitor  /  October 6, 2023

The head of Islamic Jihad denounced Arab attempts to normalize relations with Israel on Friday, as the group staged demonstrations in the Palestinian Territories and neighbouring states amid Israeli efforts to make peace with Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports.

“Those who rush towards normalization with the Zionist project must know, and they do know, that this is their acknowledgment that Palestine is not ours, and that Jerusalem with its mosque is not ours.”

Ziad al-Nakhala, who is wanted by Israel and designated a terrorist by the United States and others, said in the video address.

The remarks were broadcast to demonstrators in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria, who marked the 36th anniversary of the founding of the movement.

Armed and masked militants attended the Gaza rally dressed in military style uniforms. Organizers placed two giant flags of Israel and the United States for participants to step on as they arrived at the gathering at an open-air field.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which seeks the destruction of Israel, has fought repeated battles with the Israeli military in recent years and has always rejected any political compromise. It is based in Gaza, a strip of territory controlled by rival group, Hamas, and also has foreign headquarters in Beirut and Damascus.

US President Joe Biden has encouraged Saudi Arabia and Israel to seek an agreement that would build on earlier accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Morocco and Sudan. Any deal is seen as some way off, with the status of the Palestinians among the key issues to be decided.

Al-Nakhala also condemned the Palestinian Authority, the body born out of the Oslo Accords 30 years ago, which exercises limited governance in the Occupied West Bank, as its security forces clashed briefly with Islamic Jihad militants at a rally in the town of Tulkarm.

“Israel kills us with American weapons, and the so-called security services chase us and arrest us upon American decision, too,” he said, demanding the PA release all Palestinian prisoners it held in detention.

Hours after his comments, unidentified gunmen in the northern West Bank city of Jenin opened fire on the local headquarters of the Palestinian administration.

Al-Nakhala said Islamic Jihad remained opposed not only to normalizing relations with Israel, but also to the entire peace process that started with the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

“We affirm that our resistance continues, and the Islamic Jihad Movement, born from the spirit of Islam, still perseveres in its path. It has not compromised and will not surrender to delusions,” he said.