Opinion| Palestinian blood and sharing of gains between Hamas and Fatah

Hatem Sadek
8 Min Read

The situation before us is complex and troubling, reflecting the challenges faced by the Palestinian people. This is not solely due to the conflict with Israel but also stems from internal disputes among some leaders who seem to prioritize personal interests over the well-being of their people.

Observers note that without a unified strategy for post-conflict recovery and the future of the Gaza Strip, progress remains elusive. The Hamas movement recognizes the repercussions of its actions on 7 October. Consequently, it appears willing to employ delay tactics and create crises to maintain its relevance in negotiations.

This explains the violent and sudden clashes currently occurring between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the formation of a new government, which had been agreed upon as part of a comprehensive vision for the aftermath of the Gaza war. The crisis erupted after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appointed his economic advisor to form a new government, which the movement deemed in a statement as “a waste of time and an endeavour to foster national division, and that the priority is to confront the war of annihilation waged by Israel in Gaza.” This response might have been effective if Israel had initiated the conflict. This is precisely what the Authority and the Fatah movement relied on in response to the Hamas statement, which characterized the movement’s attack in October as an adventure that led to a catastrophe more horrific and cruel than the catastrophe of 1948.

Hamas’s history with Fatah is built on suspicion and conflict. This is because the former realizes that it does not possess regional or international legitimacy like what Fatah possesses as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Therefore, this region has become exclusive to Fatah, and it will have no choice but to play on other cards, some of which are old and abandoned under regional and international agreements, and others with understandings agreed upon between the parties to the crisis, such as armed conflict and the legal adaptation of the occupation formula. Thus, what remained for Hamas was the religious cover that could give it a special legitimacy linked to faith and Islam, and in fact, this gave Hamas moral, material, and political support as well. As for Fatah, it realizes that Hamas’ religious cover has begun to fade under the blows that political Islam has received over the past ten years and that continuing to link Hamas to this religious concept will backfire on it. So, it is only a matter of time before everyone abandons it and then realizes that its legitimacy must extend from the ambition of the Palestinian people, whose hopes are currently limited to living in safety and stability.

Israel has consistently regarded the Gaza Strip as a nuisance, with leaders such as David Ben-Gurion and Ariel Sharon viewing it as a financial drain and vulnerability that required a bold decision to abandon. In 2005, Sharon took this step and unilaterally withdrew from the Strip, leaving it to the Palestinians and the Ramallah authority. The following year, Hamas won the Palestinian elections and formed a new government comprising 24 ministers, including 14 from the West Bank and 10 from the Gaza Strip. However, this government did not include any members from other factions after three weeks of negotiations failed due to disagreements over the movement’s programme.

The Battle of Gaza in June 2007, also known as the Hamas coup, marked the peak of the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas. At that time, Hamas fighters gained control of the Gaza Strip, ousting Fatah officials. Since then, Hamas has promoted the narrative that it liberated the Gaza Strip and forced Israel to retreat, arguing that its approach should be adopted in the conflict with Israel, not the negotiations favored by Fatah. However, the reality is that the Gaza battle resulted in the dissolution of the unity government and the division of the Palestinian territories into two de facto entities: the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian National Authority, and Gaza, controlled by Hamas.

The most dangerous and most important reason for the prolongation of the Palestinian problem lies in the multiplicity of visions. There are more than 36 Palestinian resistance or jihadist factions living inside and outside the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, each of them has its perception and a vision behind which its successors are entrenched to restore Palestinian rights, and all of them receive financial or moral support from external parties. What appears to be among these factions are the Jihad and Hamas movements, which are searching for a political and military role, and possess an ambition through which they have succeeded in presenting themselves regionally as a strong and potential competitor to the Fatah movement, which is considered the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This legitimacy is what confuses everyone’s calculations and is the real obstacle to its dreams of jumping to ruling power and managing the future of these people.

The current events in Gaza are an episode in the series of the ongoing conflict between the Palestinian factions. As for Israel, it will forever remain the sole and definitive beneficiary of this conflict, and its justification for disavowing any agreement that has already been made or will be made is “Give us a Palestinian party to negotiate with,” and Benjamin Netanyahu will exploit this dispute as a justification to enter Rafah to eradicate what remains of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This is of course without considering the suffering of the Palestinian people, as long as a temporary ceasefire and prisoner exchange plan is not agreed upon.

Surely, the existence of absolute truth is not a certainty, and there are multiple perspectives and viewpoints. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the Arab-Israeli conflict has consistently featured a pattern of Israeli trends that can be observed and monitored, with which negotiations can be conducted to achieve or not achieve solutions. Often, agreements are reached. On the other hand, it is challenging to identify a single, unified Palestinian stance that can be negotiated, and this has been the weakness of this historical issue. This challenge is compounded by the concerns of the Palestinian people, who are now primarily focused on finding sustenance and stability after being exploited by various parties. The question remains: how long will the Palestinian division continue to dominate the situation?

Dr. Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University

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