The son of a founding member of Hamas, who worked as a spy forIsrael’s security service for a decade, has denounced Palestinian state-building as nothing more than a “fantasy”.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, the eldest son and expected heir to Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of Hamas’ foremost leaders in the West Bank, said that governments pushing for a Palestinian state are “playing with fire”.
Mr Yousef, 36, was nick-named the “Green Prince” after he was recruited to work for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, age 17.
He was considered to be one of Israel’s most valuable sources operating from inside the Hamas leadership, and his recruitment was kept a secret even within the Shin Bet.
But after emigrating to America in 2007, where he claimed political asylum, Mr Yousef decided to reveal his identity and publish his memoirs.
“The goal was to share what I witnessed,” he told The Telegraph.
”I know that it is very hard for the average person to see clearly what is happening.
”I came from the heart of the leadership of Hamas, the heart of the Palestinian decision making. I sat down with Yasser Arafat, with all the top leaders of the Palestinian factions.
“On the other hand I worked with the Israeli intelligence. I saw the other side. I saw their struggle as well.
”How many other people in that region see the truth from different sides? It was a crime not to share my story.”
Mosab Hassan Yousef in the documentary film The Green Prince, which is based on his real life story and is coming out in UK cinemas in December
Mr Yousef, who was in London this week on a fundraising trip with One Family UK, a charity which supports victims of terror, condemned the reaction of Arab leaders to the most recent spate of violence in Israel as “deluded”.
Speaking about the axe attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem this week, he said: “We had four righteous people going to a synagogue, a house of worship. They got killed.
”And you see the Jordanian parliament are praising the killers, praying for them, and encouraging people to follow their footsteps.
“This is the Arab culture: they hate Israel for religious reasons, for ideological reasons. This needs to stop; they need to wake up from their delusion.”
Mr Yousef grew up in Ramallah, in the West Bank, and said that as a child he viewed Israel as the “enemy”.
For most of his childhood his father was locked away in Israeli prisons, and Mr Yousef was left to fend for his family.
At one point his father returned home after spending one-and-a-half years in prison, only to be arrested and taken away again six hours later.
“I had all the reasons in the world to hate Israel. My first motive was to take revenge on Israel and that is why I agreed to work for them,” he said.
But after witnessing Hamas supporters torturing Palestinians who they suspected of collaborating with Israel, he began to question his beliefs about who the enemy was.
Mr Yousef agreed to work for the Shin Bet, and from 1997 to 2007 he masqueraded as his father’s protégé, while all the time reporting back to the Israelis and in doing so, foiled numerous terrorist attacks.
He told The Telegraph: “Pushing for a Palestinian state is a fantasy. It is impossible. Israel is not going to give Palestinians free borders because no Israelis will agree to another holocaust.
“Why push for things that are not going to take place, and [in doing so] encourage terrorism and violence?
“In the mean time, instead of dreaming about impossible things, how about we build a Palestinian economy, schools and infrastructure?
“Let’s try to avoid Hamas, let Israel finish the job of fighting them, and leave the Palestinian people out of this problem. To go and push for a Palestinian state right now – this is playing with fire.”
Despite risking his life to spy for Israel, Mr Yousef said he would be “the biggest fool in the world” to be serving them now.
When Mr Yousef applied for asylum in America, his application was initially denied on the grounds that he has engaged in acts of terror.
He insisted that he had infiltrated the Hamas leadership in order to spy for Israel and prevent the terror attacks, but the Shin Bet refused to confirm his account.
“The Israeli government turned their back on me,” he said. “I was facing deportation, I was facing death. And unfortunately I was face to face with bureaucracy.”
But after his former intelligence handler, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, defied the Shin Bet’s strict code of secrecy and revealed his own identity in order to testify on behalf of Mr Yousef at an immigration hearing, the objections to asylum were suddenly dropped.
“When things started to become very dangerous, Gonen came. And for the first time in the history of the agency, the Israeli intelligence did not punish him.”