Many media outlets, especially Palestinian media outlets, have been talking about secret and indirect talks held in Qatar between the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas and Israel under European-Qatari auspices. These outlets also said that an agreement between the two sides is on the verge of being announced, in accordance with which Hamas will declare a long-term peace treaty that may last five years. In exchange, Israel will allow for the establishment of a floating port off the coast of Gaza and will ease the siege imposed on it in order to make the lives of the Gazans easier. These media sources did not talk about the security details that the two sides indirectly agreed upon. For example, they did not mention whether or not the Israelis have stipulated the disarmament of Hamas, stopping the digging of tunnels, or the persecution of other resistance groups.
We have become accustomed to media chaos and disorder, and the media has often misled the Palestinian public opinion for many reasons. One of the most important reasons for this is the political disputes in the Palestinian arena. Therefore, I worked on monitoring the situation and finding the truth, and I found that the issue is no more than ideas proposed by the UN representative in Gaza, whose term is over, and by some European countries. I also discovered that Hamas was merely listening to these ideas and did not submit any written responses to any of the proposals.
Hamas is fully dedicated to lifting the siege on Gaza and is aware that the Palestinian people in Gaza are suffering under harsh living conditions. Everyone has closed their doors in the face of the Gazans, especially on the Egyptian side which is being put under international pressure to relieve the suffering of the Gazan people. Hamas is willing to listen to the ideas that aim to lift the blockade on Gaza, or at least ease it, and open the Rafah crossing. However, the achievements made in this regard are very weak.
Israel is also concerned with easing the intensity of the blockade imposed on Gaza because it realises that raising the pressure in Gaza could lead to a blow up in its face. However, it has taken many complex security precautions that prevent it from easing the blockade. It is worth noting that the aims of the blockade, which Israel shares with a number of Western and Arab countries, include changing the political situation in Gaza, containing the Palestinian resistance and eliminating it. This is carried out by pushing for a popular uprise against Hamas and the resistance in general. According to the theory of those imposing the blockade on Gaza, the pressure caused by the blockade may push the people to hold the resistance responsible for the harsh living conditions, driving them to revolt against the resistance, destroy its pillars, and call for the return of the PA to the Gaza Strip. Once this is achieved, negotiations between Israel and the PA can resume on the basis of the negotiations including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, rather than the current situation in which only the West Bank is being negotiated. According to some international parties and Israel, the negotiations are useless if they do not lead to a final settlement that includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Until now, the negotiations have failed to change the political situation in Gaza and therefore the negotiations are at a standstill.
The Europeans are also concerned with either lifting the blockade or alleviating it because they are afraid of the international crisis that it may cause. The Gazans caused a crisis in 2008 when they raided the Palestinian-Egyptian border and put the Egyptian regime, led by Hosni Mubarak at the time, on the spot, along with the rest of the world powers who supported his siege on Gaza. The Gazans provoked the international media outlets in order to get them to cover the events, thus exposing the blockade and those besieging Gaza. This forced the UN and international human rights organisations to intervene and put the blame on the world superpowers, the Security Council, and the Arab countries.
The world learned a lesson in 2008; they learned that too much pressure does actually cause an explosion. This is both a physics and social law. However, it is difficult to predict the level of pressure needed to cause a social explosion. The Europeans believe that the current situation in Gaza cannot go on, and they are looking for ways to alleviate and decrease the pressure in order not to cause a new situation in the region instigated by another military confrontation between the resistance and Israel, or a new crisis caused by the resistance in the international arena.
Therefore the Europeans are working hard to find ideas that aim to alleviate or end the blockade in order to avoid the effects of a crisis that will inevitably affect them. In this context, the Europeans are proposing ideas to Hamas, and it is very likely that they are proposing the same ideas as the Israelis, in an effort to find a way out. This is the true story that is being manipulated by the media in order to poison the Palestinian public opinion. The Palestinian resistance has not submitted any written documents or responses to these ideas nor did they agree to any of the European proposals.
However, it is strange that the Gazans still have not caused a crisis that has made any noise in the international arena. The harsh living conditions in Gaza require a special act that will have a large impact, thus deterring the countries who are working on intensifying the siege. It is not possible for the situation to remain the same without causing movements in the stagnant waters. There have been suggestions and thoughts about organising a boat protest that would cross the naval limits imposed by Israel, thus putting the issue before the eyes of the world, especially the Security Council. Moreover, we have not seen any role played by Russia or China in this regard, and it is not clear whether or not the resistance factions are trying to expand the circle of those concerned with lifting the siege on Gaza. The resistance should involve Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and all other countries that may understand the Palestinians’ aspirations for liberty, freedom and independence.
I would like to conclude by saying that there are neither secret nor indirect negotiations being held in Qatar between Hamas and the Israelis. However, the ideas are not being confined and restricted to one particular geographical spot and, although the Europeans expanded their field of ideas, it does not mean that the Palestinian resistance is sitting at the negotiating table.
Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 22 June 2015.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.