Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Ghassan Kadi
4 November 2012

It is not a secret that Palestinians have two leaderships. It is not unusual to have two major parties in a democracy. What is peculiar to Palestine is that the geographic segregation that is imposed by Israel has “allowed” both parties to rule; each in its territory of majority.

The two parties in any democracy will have bi-partisanship on many issues. The US Republicans and Democrats would only argue about who is going to give more support to the Israel Lobby; not the support itself. They (ie the two parties) will always disagree about domestic policy issues, and for a country like Palestine, the list of domestic issues will have to longer than that of any other country.

But with the recent turn of events in the region, especially after the emergence of the so-called Arab Spring, the dividing lines and the bi-partisanship issues between the PA and Hamas are becoming muddled and instead of seeing black and white, the vision is turning into more shades of grey.

On the surface, both parties make it appear that the only issue they agree to is that AlQuds is the capital of Palestine. In reality however, their policies are getting closer and closer; with the PA taking the initiative of being the party to declare its sell-out policy.

Abbas has taken his last plunge thus far with his stand regarding the “right of return”. This certainly reflects an overt new direction, which was obvious to the keen observer earlier, but perhaps Abbas too ashamed to bring this topic to the agenda till recently.

But let us not get too emotional here and presume that Hamas is on a much better track. Until recently, Hamas has seen able to transcend its fundamentalist ideology and prioritize its national interests. Until recently, Hamas was able to clearly see the dividing line between the camp of resistance as opposed to the camp of submission.

The Arab Spring however has sent Hamas into an ideological spin in which all cards were shuffled and Hamas opted to reinvent itself. Whilst its military apparatus seems to literally continue to stick to its guns, its political leaders seem to have denigrated themselves to be bought by the highest Sunni bidder.

Money is very lucrative, and oil money is perhaps even better lubricated than most. Hamas did not only abandon its former Syrian and Iranian allies, but it is now going cahoots with Qatar. And whilst the leadership of Hamas was always critical of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, it seems to be much more tolerant to the Morsi-led Egyptian blockades of the Rafah gate than those of its predecessor.

Hamas finds it very easy to ignore the fact that Morsi wrote to Perez calling him a dear friend, and to welcome and shake hands with the Prince of Qatar who has an undeclared state of recognition of the state of Israel in his country and has hosted the US to invade Iraq.

It would be absolutely foolish to imagine that the leaders of Hamas do not know those facts. But it is quite obvious that Hamas is more interested in being a part of a Sunni pact and prioritizing it over the national interests of Palestine and its people.

Erdogan on the other hand has been huffing and puffing about Gaza for nearly four years. He now realizes that the Prince of Qatar has stolen the limelight by visiting Gaza before he did. Erdogan’s visit is now becoming both more imminent and more redundant. But what is he going to achieve, or what would he like to achieve?

It seems unlikely that Erdogan is interested in the Saudi/Qatari led attempts to establish a Sunni alliance. As a matter of fact, several reports indicate that the Saudis and the Qataris are not in full accord either. In any event, this alliance is at best a Sunni alliance that will also be one that is Arabic. Erdogan has a different and bigger fish to fry. He sees himself as the new Caliph and he wants to restore Turkey’s regional hegemony. He will not accept to be an equal partner with the Saudis and Qataris.

It would appear that the Hamas leadership sees the case for Gaza as a subject that is hip, especially in the Muslim world. And with the rising global interest and support to end the siege on the people of Gaza, the Hamas leadership is acting in a manner that indicates that it sees itself as a leadership the appeasement of which is in high demand. Perhaps the leadership of Hamas is seeing itself as a chooser, not a begger, but in the sad reality of practise, it is portraying itself to be up for sale by any rising Sunni alliance and any rising Sunni star. No deal on any such offer is a no-deal for its leadership.

If anything, at least Abbas is coming clean and his sell-out is obvious. Hamas is selling out, and selling out in stealth. Perhaps this is the only major difference left between the policies of the PA and Hamas.

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