Dim Future in Palestine as Tension Escalates

The situation is Palestine grows worse day by day, and expectations suggest that tomorrow will be worse. Tension, bullets, accusations, anxiety and assassins are in every corner.
Many political analysts sadly suggest that the tension will end up in an explosion in the situation in Palestine.

Fears increase of a civil war between the fighting Palestinian factions.
Some politicians argue that Hamas was not ready for its landslide victory in the elections early this year that brought it to democratic power. Otherwise, it should have paved the way beforehand for a successful mission.

Last week Hamas put its own security force on the streets last week, despite calls from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insistence that all Palestinian security report to him.
Several questions rise up as one watches the events unfold on Al-Jazeera or other news channels.

Is it Hamas that brings all that chaos? If so, does this means that democracy has to be like this in all this chaos?
Is there really a direct Israeli influence on the Palestinian Authority to reject a  Hamas government?
Who is really behind the assassination attempts in Ram Allah?
What is the use of the Hamas police? Will it to contribute to stability and security – or merely add to the disturbance?
What should Hamas do, with international donors having turned off the cash on which they so badly depended? How will it be possible to transfer money from the Arab League to the Authority?

These questions and more were asked in an exclusive interview with Hamas’s Representative in Yemen, Mr. Jamal Issa on Sunday, May 21.
Yemen Observer (YO): What is the story behind the several assassination attempts of prominent Fatah figures, including the recent explosion in the Intelligence Organization?
JAMAL ISSA (JI): First of all, the nature of the field obligates us to read the situation objectively. The Palestinian land is still under the occupation. The Israeli occupation during the long years  created a connection and networks of agents. I can say that Israel is the first to blame for all the troubles in the life and security of the Palestinians. In addition, Israel targets the Mujahidin with coordination with the operatives.
Now we are in a stage of establishing a new government, with an agenda to realize security as one of the priorities. It is natural that there would be Zionist attempts to create disturbance and aggravate indifferences and problems aiming to implant doubt among all concerned parties.
YO: Some say that Hamas doesn’t plan to establish a Palestinian state, but rather to establish an Islamic Caliphate from Afghanistan to Gaza. What do you think about this?
JI: Hamas did not include this in its platform. Hamas says it is a national liberation movement, trying to implement a national project through the declaration of an independent state with full sovereignty and Jerusalem its capital.
 As far as the cultural and civil identity, our people are Arab and Muslim and it is natural to have such Arab and Islamic culture.
As for the religious nature of the state and borders, Hamas did not declare anything of that sort. It is not in our priorities as long as there’s an occupied land. We are concerned to free that land, and develop a national program to make this liberation possible.
YO: Hamas claims that resistance is a “pillar in its foundation”, and for the 18 months we have not heard of any organized operation. Does this mean you have halted your resistance without prior notice?
JI: There are two issues in this regard. The first is that resistance is a project bigger than just firing guns. It is more than using the gun or limiting resistance to it. We are talking about a comprehensive resistance project including all aspects: cultural, political and military.
As for the priorities, we are concerned at this stage to marry the resistance and construction; between the field work and its political cover, which the government has come to embody.
So there is neither compromise nor suspension as far as the resistance is concerned. There’s an expansion to the resistance in its forms and tools. We consider any field action on Palestinian land by any faction as a form of resistance that serves the authority’s project.
The Palestinian authority will provide the political cover to the resistance, regardless of who is doing it.
YO:  Are you part of the Muslim Brotherhood?
JI: We meet with the Muslim Brotherhood on cultural and intellectual grounds. However, we have a clear specialty. We are a political organization with a national liberation project. This project makes us, regardless of our intellectual grounds, an independent project with an independent character.  
YO: To what extent does this match with what the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said in an interview with Al-Jazeera – that Hamas is the branch of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine?
JI: When we talk about the establishment, Hamas was created as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood tree. We talk now about the Islamic movement in Palestine, in which Hamas represents the biggest and most prominent part of it.
Hamas is a political organization with a national liberation project on the basis of the Muslim Brotherhood. 
In a previous meeting you said that there are above 160,000 civil servants, which is a big number in comparison to the needs. How will Hamas handle this issue? What are the alternatives?
JI: Our brothers in Fatah have put burdens on the administrative structure of the authority. It was designed to accommodate 80,000 civil servants. There are now more than 165,000.
 The most affected in the delay in payments is the employees. More than 90% of the employees belong to Fatah. Hence, President Abu Mazin is concerned to open the financial channels to fix this slip, caused by the leadership of Fatah.
We think that Palestine and Palestinians can realize a new struggle, resistance and economic forms. Those forms depend on the construction of a national economy and to become gradually free of the occupation.
The economists who did the planning of the Palestinian economy for the coming phase intended to create a structural economy based on production units, expansion of transformation industry, commercial exchange with Arab states and EU.
There will be a moment when the Palestinian citizen relies on investment and the private sector.
This will help get rid of the choking unemployment.  If a resolution to the situation is made we are assured of, we expect that more job opportunities will be available. 

YO: What are the alternatives in case the tension continues among the Palestinian factions, i.e. Hamas and Fatah in particular?
JI: It is at the climax now. There are indications of the collapse of the sanctions and tensions. Then we will move the to internal construction projects of local economy. 
YO: How do react to the confiscation of the money brought in with Sami Abu Zuhri? What were the justifications of the Palestinian Authority?
JI: This is a rushed action. It also reflects the size of oppression the Palestinian people are being exposed to, through the entries accord that control of the movement of citizens and fund from outside world to the country.
Anyway, this case has been solved and the sum has been released and was returned to Sami Abu Zuhri, who will take it to the destined families and parties. 
YO: The United States announced that it will channel fund to the Palestinians through Abu Mazin’s office not through Hamas’. What’s your comment?
JI: These are ways to escape from the Palestinian government. We trust that there is a specific address to which the fund and support should go.
 But at this particular stage, there is some kind of coordination between the government and Abu Mazin. He [the president] announced that he will move the fund to the Ministry of Finance. We have no problem between us and Abu Mazin.  
YO: How did Sami Abu Zuhri manage to pass through all international ports with that huge sum? And what is the source of the money?
JI: This money was secured by the movement [Hamas]. Abu Zuhri is a Hamas member, who was carrying the money in a bag during the daytime. We deal with everything as clearly as possible. He is like any Palestinian citizen who came with money to hand it over to the deserved people. This is an honorable role. 
YO: Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said in his last Friday’s sermon that he will never retreat –  referring to the newly created police force made up mainly of members of the militant groups. Why at all the deployment of this force? Would it help ease or increase tension?
JI: First of all the Prime Minister was reflecting on an agreement with the president that there’s an urgent necessity to provide a supportive force to the police. That came after the complaints of the Minister of Interior requesting the security apparatus to comply to their jobs.
 The state of disturbance and instability that include kidnapping of citizens, gun shooting, land confiscation and frequent attacks here and there. The regular security force was not able to control the situation.
The president and the prime minister reached an agreement to enhance the performance of the security. There’s no legal or constitutional violation. The only problem was that this force deployed in the streets and was a surprise to the people. That was probably they new police wear different uniform than the regulars.
Now after coordination and cooperation, it is confirmed that those groups are complementing each other.
What has been said about an exchange of fire is untrue, thanks to the field coordination that led to stability, and all citizens witness that. There’s a third party between the two groups trying to escalate tension and shake the confidence by gunshots here and there. 
YO: Some leading figures in Fatah accuse Hamas for the assassination attempt of Tareq Abu Rajab last Saturday. What do you think? How do you respond to such accusations?
JI: According to the statements of the staffers of the intelligence organization, the building is entirely protected. It was built by the CIA. There is a digital surveillance in all its departments, entries and exists.
 If the operation, as they said, was an implantation of explosives in the elevator, it will be very easy to identify the doer(s). Simply, the building is under heavy security supervision. We demanded an immediate handover of the still pictures or footages to the investigation committees for us all to know who is behind it.
Pointing the fingers at Hamas does not rely on an objective bases. What is needed is to find the opponent individuals of the victims and the type of penetration that took place in their departments.
YO: A recent western report says that Hamas and Iran pose a similar growing threat to the survival of the Jordan monarchy. How do comment on that?
JI: This is a joke. It is really a joke more than a political reality.
YO: Have you come across the report?
JI: No, I have not. This comes within the fabrication of stories to maintain tension. This is a heavy joke, because the political and practical reality and military program of Hamas is inside Palestine and for the Palestinians. It is all about resisting the occupation.
I think all what has been said about the relations between Hamas and Jordan came within the justification context for Jordan’s unwilling attitude to advance a practical step towards giving the legitimacy of and real support to the Palestinian government. We pass up this attitude and wish the Jordanians look again into this wrong policy. 
YO: What are the connections between the assassination attempt of Abu Rajab and his visit last week to Jordan to investigate the accusations against Hamas?
JI: We have no idea about the details of this story. It became clear that it is a fabricated one, especially that there are some Jordanians who identified the detainees. It became clear that they have no connections with Hamas.
The citizens themselves were able to identify them and their connections probably to Fatah and other factions.
This creates question marks whether there’s security coordination between Fatah and the Jordanian government, or that the Jordanian Intelligence penetrated Fatah. Generally speaking, the whole issue will be over. 
YO: There is a nationwide campaign in Yemen to support Hamas and the Palestinian people. Have you already received any amount, or is it used for media? 
JI: The President of Yemen thankfully gave instruction to pay all the dues from Yemen to the Palestinian people. The sum was transferred to the Arab League.
Now we are in preparation of a national campaign that involves all people from different backgrounds. However, we have heard about several public initiatives of support from the Yemeni people. 
YO: Do you have a specific figure about the public or official fund allocated for you from Yemen?

JI: In fact we had no idea up till this moment. What reaches us here to the headquarters of the movement reflects the generosity of the Yemeni people.
How do you evaluate the Arabic reaction and support to Hamas’s victory and government?
JI: We think that Hamas was able to register a presence for the Palestinian case in the Arab and Islamic world. That was embodied in the political openness and the many visits to the Arab and Islamic capitals.
In addition, the donation campaigns at the official and public levels, through which Hamas succeeded in collecting enough money to break down the crisis. The obstacle is not with the donors or the governments; it is now at the hand of some banks that need a political decision to breakdown the unjust American sanction.
YO: This means the support is incomplete?

JI: It is positive. There’s a party under a difficult test. It must choose either to get implicated by the continuation of the sanctions, or to respond positively to the needs of our people by submitting that money. 
YO: Hamas the movement and Hamas the government – is there a major difference?
JI: Hamas remains an open-minded movement with open strategy. It has working fields outside the country as well as international relations within a strategic vision related to regaining our rights in Palestine and the return of the refugees to their home.
The government is subjected to the political arena within a frame of official function. It is a sort of government that operates under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza regions.
The political horizon is limited. The government is not concerned about the negotiation and/or acknowledgement of Israel. 
Do you think that Hamas will not ultimately give in and compromise by acknowledging Israel?
There are some firm issues. We have proven that from political and legal aspects, it is not logical or acceptable to acknowledge the legitimacy of the occupation.
This means the elimination of our rights in our country. This also means the elimination of our rights in resistance. This is not accepted logically and practically. If we acknowledge it, there is no justification for the resistance and the conflict. 
YO: This means the tension will, although hopefully not, escalate. There is a wing in Fatah that presses the president to dissolve the government. In case President Abu Mazin decided to take the step and call for early elections, what would be your reaction?
JI: There’s nobody calling for this. There are some voices and are limited to a small group connected to the Oslo accords. The majority in Fatah doesn’t adopt this attitude. President Abu Mazin understands that Hamas is a public reality.
This government is elected by the Palestinian people through a democratic operation. He understands that there’s nothing that can lead to the cancellation of the government. This means complicating the situation, not giving a solution. The political dialogue between the cabinet and the authority is the right solution to and exit of this crisis created by Israel.  
YO: A final word?
JI: We can say that we are in a difficult situation. Israel is playing in a square of contradictions and irregularities. But this state is not sustainable.
We should manage our internal affairs on the basis of national dialogue. We are satisfied that we will bring about a new national equation, which can be used by Abu Mazin to negotiate with other partners in the way that enhances our national rights.

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