Radical Islamism has been boosted by the turn against Hamas by Arab states. Linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is now cast as the disruptive force in most Arab countries, thus accepting the Israeli version of its attack on Gaza. Where Palestine once united Arab states it now adds to the divisions writes Maged Mandour.
Still in 1999 there was a vigorous peace camp in Israel. Since the 2nd intifada it has diminished to a dedicated, and unpopular, core abandoned by the centre ground for various reasons including the belief that Hamas does not want peace. Despite David Grossman’s pleas, says Mazal Mualem, the middle ground is set against Hamas, and peace.
Serious proposals from Jimmy Carter, former US President, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights. As they say, ending this war in Gaza begins with recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political actor; the international community’s initial goal should be the full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt, and the sea – and more…
In first of three articles, Meredith Tax looks at the symbiotic relationship of the Israeli fundamentalists to their counterparts in Hamas. “Israel’s destruction of Gaza helps keep the Muslim Right in power in Gaza; Hamas’s rockets strengthen the hold of the Right in Israel.” New voices and analyses are urgently needed and thoughts on these will appear in Tax’s follow-ups.
The IDF claim last month that it had intercepted a ship carrying weapons for Hamas, or another terrorist group in Gaza, received wide publicity – and some scepticism. Now military analysts suspect the destination was more likely to have been a jihadist group in Sinai, which the IDF knew at the time. Hamas has been a force for stability in the region – but it is losing income, allies and power.
It seems that anything other than treating Gaza, the place, its people, its government, as an irredeemable pariah is regarded by Israel’s defence elite as the soft face of terrorism. Thus the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a non-secretive NGO with the aim of organizing visits to the oPt by European policy-makers, has been ‘outlawed’ by Israel’s defence minister making its funds liable to seizure and officers liable to arrest in Israel.
As B’Tselem points out when issuing new statistics, the death penalty is not banned under international law. However it is regarded as such an egregiously cruel punishment that it is an absolute requirement on any court which issues this punishment that it is punctilious about due process. Neither the Fatah nor Hamas governments observe this due process. Because Hamas sees itself as in a state of war it condemns ‘collaborators’ to a traitor’s death.
The growth of Salafism causes horror in both Palestine and Israel. This Islamist tendency is now seen as associated with violence and intolerance. It is also understood as a response to the failure of both Hamas and the peaceful PA to secure a Palestinian state. Salafism has no association with nationalism and is against democracy and for a Muslim emirate, not a Palestinian nation.Who Salafi are is a cause of dispute among Muslims.
Hamas has many powerful enemies – aka Hamas has no friends – so that it’s hard to assess the weight of these reports about the Tamarod challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza. Rumours swirl that Tamarod Palestine is a front for Israel or the Egyptian military. There is no evidence that it is, and so far no evidence either that it represents popular discontent in Gaza – although anger amongst the young at stultifying rules of conduct is evident. We will have to wait and see what the planned mass demonstration on November 11 produces.
For decades Syria has been a refuge for Palestinans, hosting the Hamas leaders and housing several hundred thousand in camps supported by UNWRA. But since Hamas abandoned Syria and President Assad in 2012 and successive regime attacks on Yarmouk refugee camp, Palestinians tend to have sided with the Syrian rebels in the name of pan-Arab liberation. Now the threat of western intervention has silenced the Palestinian critics of Assad.
The initial target of the Egyptian clamp-down on crossings and tunnels appeared to be Hamas and terrorist groups, but now seems to have developed into a wider anti-Palestinian – especially in Gaza – drive. Palestinians in Egypt report a high level of hostility towards them and a complete disregard for the effects of denying access to Egypt. Hamas protests its innocence but seems to tolerate the Sinai jihadists.
Protests by Hamas that they are not involved in Egypt’s internal politics have not appeased the hostility of the army towards them and Palestinians in general. Having consulted with the Israelis in advance, General al-Sisi has made it clear that security is his top concern. The smuggling tunnels have been closed so Hamas has lost both its income and its Muslim Brotherhood ally. The Israel/Egypt security paradigm has won.
Hamas has again tried to shut up journalists in Gaza, this time by closing the offices of several news outlets including Ma’an and al-Arabiya. The news they object to is anything which ‘weakens the resistance’ – this time news of contacts between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and people in Gaza and with Israeli sources of information. Their action has prompted protests from Palestinian journalists and human rights groups.
Tentative and unpublicised moves between EU and Hamas representatives have been proceeding since 2011 when the Arab uprisings threw out the EU’s old chums and officials had to hastily rethink who they had relations with in Arab countries. This was an opening for Hamas who have taken the initiative in try to reverse its label as a ‘terrorist organisation’ which thus prohibits diplomatic relations. The sticking point is Hamas’s refusal to reocognise the state of Israel – although its acceptance of a 2-state solution is a de facto recognition.
Israel prevents anything arriving in the Gaza strip by sea or air and allows has just one land crossing. There is a 2nd opening at Rafah, under Egypt’s control.Trade is thus effectively illegal – creating a huge black market in which nappies and headache pills are as likely to be smuggled through the many tunnels from Sinai as weapons and cement. The trade has of course created honest entrepreurs and criminal bosses and done much to make the Sinai a land of lawless gangs. Hence the Israel/Egypt security co-operation (see next posting).
The dramatic loss of the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity in Egypt as well as of its reputation as ex-President Morsi packed state positions with Muslim Brotherhood officials will have an impact on Hamas. Hamas leaders made it clear they expected a close economic and politicial relationship with Morsi’s Egypt. Al Monitor writers say Hamas will pay a price for this. Plus how Egyptians turned against Hamas.
From Gaza Youth Break Out, a fresh and energetic voice, pushing aside the stale declamations and sectarian conflict of their elders. They want, above all, an end to the occupation which deforms the lives of Palestinians and Israelis; they want freedom and dignity and their own voice which Fatah and Hamas deny them. They want support.
Professor Rashid Khalid is not afraid of making enemies – which is fortunate as he has a lot, especially in the US. In this wide ranging interview he speaks sharply of the Palestinians, Saudis, Qataris, the vast settlement-industrial complex and his old friend Obama. And why a peace process based on Begin’s idea of autonomy can’t work. Recorded 18 months ago, it is remarkably fresh – except that then he only fears a civil war in Syria might begin.
Last February Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas left Syria to live – via his first, brief, visit to Gaza – in Doha. There, in the Qatari capital, he is interviewed by Foreign Policy magazine. He gives brief explanations on why Hamas left Syria, and his opposition to making any concessions until Israel shows itself ready to end the occupation. It is less revealing than other interviews he has given but is, perhaps, a message to an American audience that he is a human being who believes in democracy and human rights – but is unflinching about the priority of ending the occupation.
Steps to change, from bottom to top. (5) the PA allows Hamas to hold an anniversary rally in Nablus, Dec. 14; (4) Hamas goes back on an agreement to allow Fatah to hold its celebration in Gaza, Dec.16; (3) Fatah announces it will hold the celebration in Gaza City’s al-Saraya square Dec 28, the venue offered by Hamas. (2) Dec. 31, Fatah celebration begins. (1) Fatah flags fly in Gaza.