Israeli far-right Minister Bezalel Smotrich described Hamas as 'asset' in unearthed tweet

Revelation to speculation that Israeli policymakers have sought to strengthen the group over the years to diminish the chance of an independent Palestinian state

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is one of the key figures in Israel's far right. Reuters
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Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich once described Hamas as an “asset” for Israel, in a tweet that was unearthed on Tuesday.

Mr Smotrich, long one of the main players in Israel’s growing far-right, said in the same post on Twitter from 2015 that the Palestinian Authority was a “burden”.

The discovery adds to swirling allegations that Israeli policymakers have over the years been taking decisions that empower Hamas in a bid to weaken the rival PA, which has long been the international community’s preferred governing body in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The PA is supposed to be interim governing body for Palestinians until the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

It lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2006, after Hamas won a shock electoral victory in the enclave. Clashes broke out after the election between Hamas and Fatah, the main faction in the PA, which resulted in Hamas governing Gaza and the PA governing the occupied West Bank.

Despite Hamas’s virulently anti-Israel and Islamist ideology, Israel has been accused of allowing the group to flourish at the expense of the PA in order to decrease the likelihood of the Palestinians ever having an independent state.

EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Friday that Israel financed the creation of Hamas, despite strong denials from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Hamas was financed by the government of Israel in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah," Mr Borrell said in a speech.

“Mr Borrell is wrong. Far from seeking to strengthen Hamas, as the EU foreign policy chief alleged, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit Hamas hard in three large-scale military operations; in 2012, 2014, and 2021,” said Ophir Falk, an adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister, in a statement quoted by Politico.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to destroy Hamas in the ongoing Gaza war, which began when the group led an attack on southern Israel on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people. About 240 others were kidnapped and taken to Gaza.

More than 25,490 Palestinians have since been killed in the war in Gaza.

Updated: January 23, 2024, 5:29 PM