CAIRO: The continuing rift between Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and long-time politicos Fatah is a cause for concern for many Egyptians who are divided on how Arabs should deal with Israel.
Last week, rival factions seemed closer than ever to all out war when Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya was prevented from entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt by Israel which said he was carrying illicit monies for the cash-strapped government.
When Haniya’s bodyguards tried to force their way, a shootout ensued and left one dead and one wounded.
Hamas blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and in the days that followed deadly armed battles between militia belonging to both factions left many dead.
Neighboring Arab countries have been quick to try and resolve the crisis but many in the region believe the Palestinian issue may be unresolved indefinitely.
And external forces seem to be tapping into that frustration.
While the US and Israel have openly endorsed the beleagured Fatah faction led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri’s has outright criticized calls for early elections in war-ravaged and urged a jihad against the Jewish State.
“It doesn’t help Muslims of course, it works against them, said carpenter Ayman Ahmed, of a Zawahri video broadcast yesterday on Al-Jazeera.
In the tape, Al-Qaeda’s second man is seen condemning Abbas’ call for early elections to resolve the now deadly impasse with Hamas.
He said the only way to free the Palestinian people was through armed struggle. “Any way other than holy war will lead us only to loss and defeat, he said.
“Those who are trying to liberate the Islamic territories through elections based on secular constitutions, or on decisions to hand over Palestine to the Jews, will not liberate one grain of sand of Palestine.
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Ahmed and shopkeeper Saiid Ramadan agreed with the content of Al-Zawahri’s statement. “There are no other solutions, Ramadan said.
“We did elections already, we shouldn’t keep doing more elections, said Ahmed, adding that “we are not supposed to be dealing with [Israel] to begin with.
He is especially bothered by the idea of all the money “that will get thrown away in elections, while there were Palestinians that could benefit from the much-needed funds.
But painter Wael Saiid does not see a problem with repeating elections since they are unable to resolve the conflict.
“There has to be a political solution. Though he says he is not sure who’s at fault, Hamas or Fatah, he says the victims are caught in the middle.
Political scientist Walid Kazziha of the American University in Cairo “doubt[s] very much that elections will take place. He says that while many Palestinians do not support Abbas, including members from his own faction, he has a lot of external support.
In the end, Kazziha, like the others, does not think that Al-Zawahri’s tape will have much effect in terms of mobilizing action. He is, though “an additional voice to the other voices that the Palestinians are . hearing, which stress that Palestinians must not deal with Israel.