Fatah and Hamas or the hypocrisy of crying over spilt milk

Hamas’s experience of ruling Gaza is proof that Islamists are incompetent to rule wherever they are.
Sunday 15/07/2018
Hamas security forces arrest a member of the  Fatah movement (2nd L) during clashes in Gaza. (Reuters)
Blamestorming. Hamas security forces arrest a member of the Fatah movement (2nd L) during clashes in Gaza. (Reuters)

Both sides of the Palestinian family feud in Ramallah and Gaza are feeling the first winds of the impending regional and international political storm carrying Israel’s plans for a settlement with the Palestinians.

For years, both sides of the Palestinian feud have been acting as if they were not concerned with the threat and preferred to spend time and energy on the smaller details of deciding who should be boss and how.

Before the storm kicked off, the biggest issue for the Palestinians was the so-called reconciliation. It was urgent to restore unity to the Palestinian political entity based on respect of the constitutional rules and a commonsensical, balanced and clear national political vision.

It was also urgent to break with the practice of restricting the decision-making process to a handful of people and the inner circle of the president’s advisers. There was a need for setting clear and transparent frameworks for policies and for following political guidelines set by the relevant institutions.

Finally, it was urgent that Hamas stop contradicting the national policy and give up relying on wild promises to the beleaguered Palestinian population in Gaza.

Both sides of the feud are guilty of driving the Palestinian cause to the ground and of creating conditions of desperation among the Palestinians. All the Americans and Israelis had to do was jump on these conditions and turn them into the Palestinian cause itself, the central issue of sorts that bears potentially dangerous repercussions for the Palestinians and for the region. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and that of Hamas in Gaza discover only now that they cannot afford to keep the status quo.

The most skilful side will be the one that forms a consensus government with full powers, then organise fully democratic and open elections, without exclusionary preconditions. The practices of manoeuvring the electoral process in favour of one side or the other have been shown to be futile. The Palestinian people have rebuked their political elite whether from Fatah, Hamas or any other political entity.

Undeclared Egyptian efforts are taking place to pre-empt projects for a solution based on definitively separating Gaza and the West Bank being advanced under the guise of saving Gaza from its misery. Indeed, short-sighted solutions will be reaching Gaza soon.

By examining the latest missions of US envoys, it looks like the “deal of the century” will take place in two phases. The first involves spinning the problem of Gaza and keeping it alive. Then Gaza will be enticed with specially tailored solutions that the beleaguered Gazans will find hard to resist. Of course, talk about the unity of the Palestinian state and the integrity of its territories will continue but will have no concrete effect.

The second phase of the plan involves a virtual gutting of the Palestinian national project. The fundamental facts and political arguments supporting this project will be removed. Hamas and Fatah can find all the excuses they want for their previous disastrous political and social policies. The coming winds of change, however, say differently and point them out as the direct cause for the emergence of these plans aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.

Indeed, the just Palestinian cause is the least of everybody’s concerns. The urgency has shifted to how to keep life going as naturally as possible in Gaza so people stay and do not migrate to escape hunger, poverty, unemployment, military siege and the absence of basic services. The cause of the century will become nothing more than a topic for poetic sagas and dramas.

A Fatah spokesman recently warned against “any talks or negotiations about the humanitarian situation in Gaza” because such negotiations constitute “attempts to drown the national (Palestinian) cause in favour of the deal of the century.”

Unfortunately, this same spokesman omitted to ask himself about the causes behind the human drama in Gaza. He forgot to mention that it was this same Palestinian Authority that encouraged Israel to cut power in Gaza and encouraged Egypt to close Gaza’s only land access to the world.

Hamas has felt the imminent threat. A Hamas leader reacted by insisting that “Gaza will not be a party to projects aiming at liquidating the Palestinian cause because the unity of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank and Gaza District cannot be torn asunder.” What he should have added is that this kind of talk makes sense only if Hamas changes its behaviour.

The situation with Hamas is surreal. It is as if those wishing to liquidate the Palestinian cause are engaged in an oratory joust with Hamas and Hamas is acting as if it had nothing to do with causing Gaza’s misery.

The fact remains, however, that Hamas failed miserably in offering the Palestinian people the right model for a fair national rule. Its experience of ruling Gaza is proof that Islamists are incompetent to rule wherever they are.