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Hamas and the other factions must act to stop Abbas destroying the Palestinian cause

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77, from the Egypt to Palestine at the United Nations Headquarter in New York, United States on 15 January 2018. [Atılgan Özdil - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77, from the Egypt to Palestine at the United Nations Headquarter in New York, United States on 15 January 2018. [Atılgan Özdil - Anadolu Agency]

The positions of the Palestinian factions, including that of Hamas, do not live up to the seriousness of the situation following the decision by the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority to resume security cooperation with Israel. The PA announced this move at the same time that the factions were meeting in Cairo with representatives of the Fatah movement as part of the farcical "reconciliation efforts".

Condemnation and rejection of this crime, without forming a comprehensive national strategy to confront its dangers, means that these factions, including Hamas, will bear the consequences of what Abbas has done. Before getting into the details of what must be done in response to Abbas's miserable decision, though, it is of utmost importance to review how serious it is.

The decision represents a clear statement that Arab normalisation with Israel, which helps the occupation state to damage the Palestinian cause, now enjoys the support of Abbas and his authority. The evidence for this is that soon after announcing the resumption of security coordination, Abbas sent his ambassadors back to both the UAE and Bahrain.

Moreover, the resumption of security cooperation — which I doubt was ever really suspended — lends credibility to my belief that Abbas was using the reconciliation efforts to buy time until the outcome of the US presidential election became clear. In the event of a win for the Democratic candidate, he would turn his back on reconciliation. And that is exactly what he has done.

Abbas is extremely keen to appease US President-elect Joe Biden. Israeli Channel Kan revealed that he has sent a message to Biden's team pledging to counter incitement (against Israel) in the Palestinian education curricula and not join international organisations.

READ: President Abbas awards late US activist Rachel Corrie 'Freedom Star' award

He is doing this in order to reassure Israel that the Palestinian Authority will not seek its prosecution at the International Criminal Court for the war crimes it has committed and continues to commit. The PA leader has also pledged to reform the system of paying financial stipends for prisoners held by Israel, as well as those wounded by the Israelis and the families of martyrs. Although it was not clarified what he means by "reform", it is likely that he intends to meet some of Israel's conditions to stop these allowances altogether.

In light of the above, the Palestinian factions, specifically the largest, Hamas, will bear responsibility for Abbas's policies if they do not adopt a comprehensive strategy to bring the curtain down on the Abbas era. Those who stand with him also need to be stripped of any legitimacy that they might once have enjoyed.

Abbas's move back towards the Israelis was rejected by the Palestinian people and the factions, with the exception of Fatah. It suggests, therefore, that we must change our terminology so that we no longer refer to the "Fatah-Hamas split", but to the "Abbas team's split from the Palestinian people".

This requires the factions, particularly Hamas, to end the charade of reconciliation, not least because Abbas is no longer concerned about it. Merely engaging in this absurd path means granting national legitimacy to the wrongs that he commits, with which the factions who are in dialogue with him will be associated.

If he stays at the leadership helm, it will lead to the further collapse of the Palestinian position. Hamas and the other factions must act soon, otherwise they will be complicit in the creation of an environment in which Abbas is allowed to continue to target the cause of our people.

READ: The EU reaction to settlements and security coordination reflects the PA betrayal of Palestine

Translated from Thenewkhalij, 29 November 2020

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

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