Hamas and Reconciliation

Hamas and Reconciliation

The Egyptian efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian National Authority (along with the Fatah movement) and Hamas have reached their natural conclusion. This is because the reconciliation [efforts] had assumed that there are disagreements related to the sharing of political representation in the Palestinian institutions, and that coexistence can be indeed achieved within an environment of balance between two main forces that are active today on the Palestinian scene. However, the main issue seems to have boiled down to a new proposal by Hamas, built on the ruins of the Palestinian National Authority, and its party Fatah.

In fact, ever since “the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]” decided to run for the legislative elections, all while adhering to the rejection of the Oslo accords and their ramifications, a sharp contradiction arose between its declared stances regarding the national unity with the party that signed these accords on one hand, and Hamas’s efforts to subvert the standing Palestinian equations on the other hand. In other words, Hamas focused its efforts on clutching on to its gains in both the elections, and on the ground in the Gaza strip, as its indispensable means to invalidate the [Oslo] accords, and as a vital part of its political grand scheme.

The above explains why all domestic negotiations regarding the formation of a national unity cabinet failed, along with the failure to implement the Mecca agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia, then the conclusive military victory in Gaza and Hamas’s unilateral control of the strip, and finally the crisis of the Egyptian mediation. In fact, all these efforts had been thwarted by Hamas’s method in running the negotiations, which is mainly aimed at covering up its rejection of the items placed on the negotiation table. This was very clearly evident from the justifications offered [by Hamas] in not signing the Egyptian document.

Furthermore, Hamas was betting on the factors of time, and further aggravation, sometimes with the Palestinian Authority and others with Israel, and sometimes even with the mediators themselves, in order to delay the [national] unity agreement – as Hamas believes that such a unity must be under its own leadership, which it wants to share with no one else.

However, does Hamas have the ability to enter into an agreement of national unity with the Palestinian Authority, and still maintain its identity as an Islamist movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood Organization? Can Hamas enter into such an agreement, while still maintaining its regional alliances, which are the source of its actual strength, especially on the financial and military levels? Is Hamas capable of reconciliation, regardless of the latter’s stipulations and the identity of its sponsor, while preserving its very nature, without having to reconsider its political agenda?

So far, the answers to these questions seem to be negative. In fact, Hamas often twists the discussion about these issues into discussing procedural issues and matters of principle. Even in this aspect, generalized notions dominate the contents [of the discussions], along with a certain fixation on the need to condemn the Palestinian Authority, instead of scrutinizing any of these notions.

The repercussions of the Goldstone Report and the Egyptian document have all provided a clear evidence of the above-mentioned approach. For instance, in its belated eagerness to pursue this report, which was full of condemnations for the Palestinian Authority, Hamas did not stop to check the contents of the report that accused Hamas itself of war crimes.

It was obvious for Hamas, with its declared support for the Goldstone report, to announce its willingness to investigate the charges made against it, not only in targeting Israeli civilians, but also in what regards its role in imposing such wars against the population in Gaza, as well as the tragedies and the human and economic catastrophes that followed.

Meanwhile, in what pertains to the reconciliation document, the need to adhere to national principles is often reiterated; the goal behind this is in fact to show that the other party to the reconciliation has abandoned those principles in the course of the negotiations with Israel. However, the reality on the ground shows that with the exception of the issue of settlements, which Israel imposes against everybody’s will, the Palestinian Authority has not signed any agreement that is related to the national principles, especially in what regards Jerusalem, the refugees and the borders. As for the right of armed resistance, to which Hamas is holding on, this is an issue that is unrelated to the negotiations with Israel, but rather to how to manage the conflict with the latter. Also, the present calm on the Gaza front – where Hamas rules – gives the impression that armed resistance is only a tactic for Hamas, instead of being one of its principles.

As for the international resolutions, which Hamas brings into play from time to time, especially when talking about the right of return and the withdrawal to the June 4 lines, these also include resolutions that support the Oslo accords, the peaceful solution with Israel and the Arab Peace Initiative. Up until this moment however, Hamas is yet to announce its approval of the international resolutions related to these issues.

For the reasons detailed above, Hamas will not be able to sign any reconciliation agreements unless it reconsiders its goals and its grand scheme. Even if the agreement is to be signed – in order to salvage Hamas’s vital relation with Egypt – and no matter what will be agreed upon, this agreement will ultimately share the same fate of its predecessors.