Following the bloody events in Gaza in June many have wondered what next. Hamas position is clear: the government headed by Ismail Haniyeh will keep calling for dialogue. It will work toward this by exhorting Arab, Islamic and other international parties to encourage a Fateh-Hamas dialogue. This dialogue will aim at national reconciliation to end the disagreements and the boycott and install the political partnership that was rejected by influential parties who succeeded in hijacking the Fateh movement and determining its political direction.
We know that the Bush administration is working to obstruct any dialogue between President Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, indeed is planning to expand the rift between Palestinians, and we don t count on any breakthrough in the American position. But we are working with a view to the post-Bush phase by reinforcing our ties with European states even if at the unofficial level and behind the scenes. We have sensed there is a better European understanding of Hamas; that Europeans understand that the movement enjoys credibility and stays away from exercising violence outside the context of its legitimate resistance against the occupation.
Thus it is important to clarify what happened in Gaza during those bloody days in June. First, what happened was not a preplanned matter as some try to claim. It came as a result of the repeated failure of attempts to control the security chaos and the blatant violations against leading figures in and members of Hamas as well as parties sympathetic toward the movement. The escalation was a clear provocation and took on an unacceptable dimension to the point where killings were based on the shape of one s beard or attendance at prayers and there were several violations against mosques and Imams.
The response to these acts overtook attempts by Major General Burhan Hamad and the Egyptian security delegation and the National and Islamic Follow Up Committees, and everyone was drowned in waves of war that no one planned – even if our information reveals that there was a wing inside Fateh that was storing weapons and mobilizing men to confront Hamas and launch a strike at its military wing.
Second, neither logic nor reason underpin the claim that Hamas was manipulating the dialogue in Cairo set up to reform the security apparatuses to undermine national unity. As I recall the events of the past 18 months, whenever we (Fateh and Hamas) approached reconciliation, there was always a party ready to frustrate the understandings. We used to inform President Abbas of the details of these schemes and the identity of the elements behind these plans, and we appealed to him to discharge the elements of corruption and subterfuge in some of the security apparatuses but all our warnings went unheeded.
Third, Hamas had no intention of turning the tables in the region. What happened was a result of rage among Hamas members after which matters developed very quickly at the security level. This was reflected in the collective and mass evacuation of the security headquarters because many members of the National Security Forces and the Presidential Guard didn t view this battle as their battle but considered it as an act taking place outside the national context. But by them departing to their homes, the whole affair appeared as if it were planned by the military wing of Hamas. It was not so. We have said it many times and we still say it: we were not fighting the Fateh movement and Fateh did not fight us. The battle was against elements that were working for external American and Israeli agendas.
Fourth, Hamas has affirmed, through PM Haniyeh, that it will not deviate from the principles it believes in, namely the unity of the homeland, the unity of the political system and respect for all Palestinian perspectives as expressed through the legitimacy of elections and the process of democracy.
Fifth, all issues remain open to dialogue, whether the restructuring of the security services based on professional and national principles, the formation of a national coalition government, or political partnership along with serious efforts to reform and restructure the PLO so that it can act as the legitimate umbrella of our national cause inside the homeland and abroad.
Sixth, all institutions of the Palestinian Authority belong to the Palestinian people and not to Fateh or Hamas. They must remain separate from any factional considerations or disputes.
Mediation efforts will eventually bear fruit, this month or next, and the situation will return to normal in terms of relations between the Palestinian factions and forces because everyone knows that no one can lead the Palestinians to any political or military settlement without national consensus. President Abbas will not succeed at the international conference in the autumn in light of the continued boycott against Hamas. He has to reconcile with Hamas and with the government of Haniyeh so he can negotiate with strong cards in his hands. Otherwise, he will go to the conference empty handed and he will return with neither homeland nor dignity.
Most probably, the November 2008 American elections will bring about the victory of a Democratic presidential candidate. All signs indicate that there will be radical changes in US policy toward better balance with regards to the Arab conflict with Israel. The United States is concerned to protect its strategic interests in the Middle East region, deeply damaged by the reckless policies of a Bush administration that was completely biased toward Israel. Combined with a reactivation of the European role, we are expecting a change in the political atmosphere.
With the efforts of our nation, the justice of our cause and the awakening of the western conscience, we can achieve our independence and freedom and we can establish our state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as its capital.
Ahmed Yusufis an advisor to PM Ismail Haniyeh. This commentary is published by DAILYNEWS EGYPT in collaboration with bitterlemons-international.org