Converging Toward Hamas

December 21, 2012 4:25 pm 1 comment

Fatah and Hamas appear to have more that unites them than divides them. Photo: Suhaib Salem-Pool.

There are many points of disagreement between Fatah and Hamas; so many that they fought an ugly civil war in 2007, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. It is a mistake, however, to conclude from their often violent enmity, that Fatah, the so-called “moderate” faction, is or can be a partner to Israel in “peacemaking” or in finding the “two state solution” so beloved of Western politicians.

It is also a mistake for the U.S. and the West to push Israel toward concessions to Mahmoud Abbas in the hope of strengthening Fatah against Hamas.

The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. It is entirely possible for two parties to hate each other, but to agree they hate you more. And so it is in this case. Hamas and Fatah are not opposite ends of some mythical Palestinian political spectrum – they are merely different approaches to the same end.

Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, rooted in Sunni expansionism but aligned with Iran for purposes of money, training and weapons. This is another instance in which two parties (Sunnis and Shiites) can be at war at one level, but agree to make war together on a third party (Israel). Fatah is open to a (very temporary) political settlement with Israel as long as it brings millions of Arabs into Israel over whom Israel would exercise no functional control.

For both Fatah and Hamas, the bottom line is that the establishment of Israel in 1948, with the blessing of the United Nations, was a mistake by the international community that needs to be corrected.

It was a Western delusion to believe that the parameters of the deal the U.S. and Israel were pursuing was also the goal the Palestinians were pursuing. President Obama, in one of his first speeches on the subject (2009) as president, said:

Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world… That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.

The President was asserting that the Palestinians agreed that their national aspirations could be satisfied with a split, rump state wedged between a hostile Israel and an even more hostile Jordan.

The Palestinians never agreed to original division of the British Mandate into Jordan under a Hashemite King (77%) and west-of-the-Jordan (23%) for the Jews. The Palestinians also never agreed that west-of-the-Jordan could be further subdivided to give the Jews a permanent, legitimate, sovereign piece of land . Obama was mistaken. Palestinian leadership has yet to be bribed or forced to agree that Israel is a legitimate, permanent player in the region.

Israel seeks recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and Mr. Obama appears to agree, having said only a few months ago, “The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish State of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.”

Abbas demurs. “I do not accept it. [Israel as a "Jewish state"] It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic – it’s none of my business.” Later he said, “Israel can call itself…the Jewish-Zionist Empire.” Last year he said, “Let me make something clear about the story of the ‘Jewish state’… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.’”

This is not a semantic problem. If the United States is wrong about the outline of a future deal, it also wrong about Palestinian internal politics. Hamas and Fatah are seeking “unity;” where they converge is in agreeing that political advances for the Palestinians put Israel at a disadvantage (the Fatah position), and that military advances for the Palestinians also put Israel at a disadvantage (the Hamas position).

So, in an uneasy alliance, Fatah pursues one and Hamas the other.

Unity, however, should not be confused with shared power. Only one faction will ultimately speak for the Palestinians, and Hamas is presently on course to swallow Fatah despite the loss of patronage from Syria.

Fatah’s political advances, including UN General Assembly recognition of “Palestine” as a “non-member state,” attracted little visible enthusiasm from the public, and Abbas’s PA is mired economic disarray compounded by corruption.

Hamas, on the other hand, is basking in local glory for its attacks on Israel and its breakout from diplomatic isolation.

Abbas and company understand that Hamas may ultimately succeed in taking control of the Palestinian Authority. For example, Hamas rallies were permitted on the West Bank for the first time since the civil war. Abbas is discussing a possible future confederation with Jordan. Fatah has been curtailing security cooperation with the IDF and there are those who believe a third “intifada” has already begun. [Leaving an odd problem for Israel – would the IDF try to save Abbas and his corrupt administration in the face of popular enthusiasm for Hamas?] Even partial success in allowing Hamas to accede to power with minimal internecine killing might allow Fatah officials to escape to a safe haven — their money having probably already escaped.

Abbas has flown in the face of each request by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for movement toward an agreement with Israel. It was inevitable because they — and Israel — were asking for something he does not wish to deliver: not a “two state solution,” but a Fatah-Israel alliance against Hamas.

All the years, all the dollars, all the military training and assistance including stewardship by three American generals, all the political acceptance — including an “embassy” in Washington and diplomatic status — could not buy the United States one iota of political clout where it counted. It is an enormous American failure of understanding to think those things would trump the natural morphing of Palestinian leadership toward the convergence of politics, religion and “national origin” against the “foreign.” Rather than face their lack of insight and the concomitant failure of their vision, the default position of the Administration and its European allies is to blame Israel – for a lack of “empathy” and “generosity,” and for “provocation” of Palestinian irritation.

If the Palestinian leadership continues to unify under Hamas, the question will be whether the U.S. and Israel will finally be able to admit the inherent limitations of the “peace process,” or whether the West will continue to push for a “two state solution” at Israel’s expense.

This article by Shoshana Bryen was originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.