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Should we bid Hamas farewell?

October 3, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah receives a warm welcome in Gaza on 2 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

I will not criticise Hamas or our people in the Gaza Strip any further. They bore what no other humans could, including three wars in ten years waged by Israel and a suffocating economic siege imposed by the Israeli enemy and their brothers in Egypt who control the Rafah crossing and have prevented aid provided by countries around the world from entering. They have suffered a shortage of medicine, food and construction materials, while the treacherous PA – led by Mahmoud Abbas – cut the salaries of employees and did not pay the electricity bills to the occupation, thus cutting off the electricity in the Gaza Strip. This has caused the Gazans to live in pitch-black darkness, while the machines in hospitals and vital institutions were not powered.

The Gazans live a difficult life, and despite this, they have stood by their government, governed by Hamas, who they elected, even though the entire world stood against Hamas and accused it of terrorism. This was the card played by the coup-led government in Egypt in order to degrade Hamas and force it to adhere to its conditions for the reconciliation with Fatah, i.e. stepping aside and allowing the PA to govern the Gaza Strip.

Head of Gaza's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh meets Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Khaled Fawzy in Gaza on 3 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Head of Gaza’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh meets Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Khaled Fawzy in Gaza on 3 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

It is a well-known fact that Al-Sisi hates the Muslim Brotherhood and considered Hamas a part of the Brotherhood, thus explaining his hostility towards the movement and his efforts to intensify the siege imposed on Gaza. He did so to push the Gazans to revolt against Hamas and overthrow them, but when this did not happen, he resorted to the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and holding new elections through which Hamas can be overthrown. He resorted to this despite the past efforts to reconcile the two parties, including the attempts in Jeddah during the rule of the late King Abdullah, known as the Jeddah agreement, and the other attempts in Cairo and Qatar, both of which ended in failure.

What has changed that would lead to the success of the reconciliation, which is undoubtedly needed and desired by all? First, the international environment has completely changed. Furthermore, the success of the counter-revolutions and Hamas’ position on the Syrian revolution and its rejection of the war against its people has impacted it relations with Iran, the main supporter of the revolution. This has left Hamas alone to face the world’s plots against it.

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Moreover, the change in leadership, Ismail Haniyeh’s appointment as head of the political bureau, and Yahya Sinwar’s appointment as head of the movement in the Gaza Strip has caused a change in the movement’s policies. Hamas has also played on the conflict between Mahmoud Abbas and Muhamad Dahlan, seeming more open to him. He played a serious role in achieving this reconciliation, which was implemented yesterday with the arrival of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to the Gaza Strip and his receipt of power after Hamas dissolved the administrative committee through which it governed the Gaza Strip. Of course, control of the crossings will be handed over from Egypt to Israel, which is an Egyptian desire more than an Israeli one.

In my opinion, the most important point, which the reconciliation did not address, is Hamas’ military force, i.e. the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Of course the delusional Egyptian government and PA want to dismantle the Qassam Brigades and disarm it, which is also an Israel and American demand, as there is no way that the US and Israel would support the reconciliation efforts, as they claim, without a promise from Al-Sisi and Abbas to achieve this important achievement. They were not disappointed, for as soon as the Palestinian prime minister arrived in Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas immediately issued a statement saying he would not allow weapons to exist outside the authority of the state.

Herein lies the danger of the reconciliation and it raises questions about that the real purpose of it is to actually eliminate Hamas as a resistance movement and disarm it. This is what I fear.

Will eliminating the Qassam Brigades be so simple, when Israel’s army and equipment were unable to defeat it, thus prompting Israel to hand the task over to the Palestinians themselves so they can fight each other, thus causing a Palestinian-Palestinian war, similar to those in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya? Is this the new plan to get rid of the nation’s last form of resistance against the Israeli occupation? Will Hamas destroy itself with this reconciliation? These questions and more will be answered in the coming days. We will not bid Hamas farewell yet, but will say we hope to see you again soon.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.