Should Abu Mazen surmise from the recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah that he is now the recognized leader of all Palestinians? Hell, no! Will Hamas put its tail between its legs and whimper? No way. Should Israel and the world believe that they are now going to discuss peace? That’s highly unlikely.
Yet Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political chief, has announced that his organization, the Islamic terrorist group that controls Gaza and which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a champion of wars and terrorist attacks, is ready to speak of reconciliation without any preconditions and that it will dissolve its government. They will form a unity government; hold legislative and presidential elections, and stop killing and imprisoning each another.
Of course, the immediate request is that Abu Mazen puts an end to a series of very severe economic sanctions that have brought the Gaza Strip to its knees over the past few months: the salaries of civil servants were reduced by 30 percent, electricity was cut, and 7,000 people were forced into early retirement, or rather their families were condemned to starvation.
Hamas didn’t give it its best shot as it generally does during the dog days of summer: surprise terrorist attacks, abduction attempts, deadly bombing sprees that in the past led to wars. This year none of the latter was seen. That said, Hamas certainly neither lacked any of its own terrorists in relation to random attacks with knives, cars and firearms, nor did it miss an opportunity to either praise or take credit for any of them. After all, even Abu Mazen glorified terror. But that wasn’t his central focus.
We find the explanation for the new agreement in Tehran: during the summer, while Hezbollah backed with arms and money from Iran fought on the Syrian border, Hamas set its sights on strengthening itself by regaining a relationship with Iran. Within the latter’s broad hegemonic vision of the Middle East, it also accepted Hamas with its new leader, Yahya Sinwar, back into the fold.
The ideological leader of the rapprochement is the Scarlet Pimpernel Muhammad Deif, who, as a military leader, has always seen the future of Hamas in his relationship with Iran despite Tehran being Shiite, and the Palestinians Sunni. However, the Ayatollahs have opened their wallets with tens of millions of dollars, while Sunni Egypt, notwithstanding its recent effort to mediate the keep it quiet puttig it under the wing of Abu mazen, considers Hamas an enemy of President Al Sisi, who defeated the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas, while pretending to accept Abu Mazen leadership, is looking for space and time for its new strategic perspective. Abu Mazen, in need of revamping his image is fine with the new turn: Hamas, a wolf with sharp teeth, will keep its mouth shut for a while, while Abbas will strengthen his international position.
Meanwhile, his political foe Mohammed Dahlan does his best to keep Hamas within the Sunni realm, seeing the risk of the Shiite drift while Abu Mazen wants the deal in order to be serene. He will now hold one of his angry and hate-filled speeches at the UN, as always, while still delivering the usual bait to pacifists throughout the world in the same time when he pays a salary to terrorists. Nothing new.
Not even the fact that Abu Mazen can’t possibly forget that when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, his men were thrown from the tallest buildings.
Translation by Emy Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (September 18, 2017)