Sunday , 21 April 2024

Palestinians: ‘Revitalized’ Means Unity with Hamas Terrorists

gatestoneinstitute.org – For [Palestinian] leaders, revamping the Palestinian Authority means forging an alliance with Hamas by inviting the terror group to be part of a new governing body that would rule the Gaza Strip in the post-war era.

From Biden’s perspective, it is as though Netanyahu and the Israelis are responsible for the devastation in the Middle East since Hamas’s October 7 carnage, and not Iran, and Hamas’s main sponsor, Qatar, whose “protection money” evidently came “without protection.” As such, it would be no surprise if the Biden administration were to welcome a “Palestinian unity” agreement between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas – a deal that would be no doubt presented to the world as the US-made revitalization plan; in reality, just a tee-up for the next war.

Would the Biden administration like to stop the war this week?

All the US would have to do is to inform Qatar that it was cancelling the agreement the Biden administration signed in January — in return for nothing -– to extend for another ten years America’s use of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the forward headquarters of CENTCOM, and move it to a Middle Eastern country that does not, as Qatar does, have record of supporting Islamic State (ISIS/Da’esh), Hezbollah, al Shabab, the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda as well as Hamas.

In addition, the United States could simply tell Qatar that, regrettably, the US has no choice but officially to change Qatar’s designation from “major non-NATO ally,” which it is not, to State Sponsor of Terrorism, which it is. The US could have the war over and all the hostages — not just the Americans — released in a minute.

The Biden administration — or simply concerned citizens — could also demonstrate with placards advertising Qatar’s support for terrorism, a public relations campaign it might not relish.

By stationing its forces at Al Udeid Air Base, the US is doing Qatar a monumental favor, not the other way around. Without the US airbase, Qatar is just a rich, extremely vulnerable sandbar, as its rulers are undoubtedly aware.

For Palestinian leaders, revamping the Palestinian Authority means forging an alliance with Hamas by inviting the terror group to be part of a new governing body that would rule the Gaza Strip in the post-war era. Pictured: Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (R) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) are hosted by Qatar’s then Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani at a ceremony in Doha, Qatar on February 6, 2012. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

The US administration believes that the Palestinian Authority (PA) should be “revitalized” before it is handed control over the Gaza Strip after the Iran-backed Hamas terror group is removed from power. The US administration, however, has not clarified what it means when it talks about the “revitalization” of the PA. It can be assumed that it implies implementing — and enforcing — comprehensive reforms and ending the rampant financial and administrative corruption in Palestinian governing institutions.

PA leaders, meanwhile, seem to have a different interpretation of the “revitalization” proposal. For these leaders, revamping the PA means forging an alliance with Hamas by inviting the terror group to be part of a new governing body that would rule the Gaza Strip in the post-war era.

Instead of distancing themselves from Hamas, especially in the aftermath of the massacre of Israelis on October 7, 2023, the PA leaders in the West Bank continue to view the terror group as a key and legitimate actor in the Palestinian political landscape. This assumption is why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never condemned the massacre, which resulted in the murder of 1,200 Israelis and the wounding of more than 5,000, in addition to the abduction of 240 others as hostages. That is also why senior PA officials continue to view Hamas as central to Palestinian society and politics.

According to Hussam Zomlot, the PA envoy to Britain:

“We see that the Hamas organization plays an integral part in the national, political, and social issues of Palestinian citizens. They [Hamas] are part of us. We refuse to describe any Palestinian party as a terrorist organization. We refuse to describe the Palestinian struggle as terrorism. We refuse to describe any Palestinian activity as terrorism.”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the PA was ready to work with Hamas. “We need Palestinian unity,” he said. “Hamas is part of the Palestinian political arena.”

Jibril Rajoub, Secretary-General of the PA’s ruling Fatah faction, revealed that he recently met with senior Hamas officials and offered them the idea of forming a Palestinian unity government. “National unity requires a common political approach for Fatah and Hamas,” Rajoub said.

“We consider Hamas to be part of the Palestinian national fabric. We need to reach agreement with Hamas on everything related to forming a [new] government and the political situation. Our priority is to reform the Palestinian political system.”

Earlier, Rajoub had also said that the PA leadership’s contacts with “our brothers in Hamas” never stopped. “We are seeking ways to achieve a common political strategy,” he stated. Rajoub dismissed the US administration’s demand for revamping the PA:

“We the Palestinians do not accept meddling in our internal affairs…. We know what is good for us and how to resolve our problems, including the implementation of reforms.”

In late February, representatives of Fatah and Hamas met in Moscow to discuss ways of achieving “national unity.” Hussein Hamayel, a senior Fatah official, said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the formation of a new Palestinian unity government.

On the eve of the Fatah-Hamas talks at the end of February, several Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip urged the two sides to agree on the formation of a Palestinian “national unity government.” The groups also called on Fatah and Hamas to reach agreement on a “unified strategy for comprehensive resistance” against Israel.

The PA has so far shown no signs that it is serious about embarking on any plan to reform its political, economic and security institutions. All that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has done so far is to ask his prime minister, Shtayyeh, to resign. Abbas is reportedly planning to replace the outgoing prime minister with another one of his loyalists, indistinguishable from Shtayyeh: Mohammad Mustafa.

If Abbas does not appoint Mustafa, he will undoubtedly select another one of his loyalists for the job. Replacing one crony with another is certainly not what the Palestinians need.

The Palestinians need new, young leaders with a vision of Palestinian-Israeli peace and coexistence. The PA needs an institutional overhaul, starting from the top to the bottom. Palestinians want to see those responsible for financial and administrative corruption removed from power.

The 88-year-old Abbas, however, seems convinced that reforms include a unity deal with an Islamist terror group, Hamas, whose charter calls for Jihad (holy war) and the elimination of Israel. “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it,” Hamas’s charter states, calling on Muslims to raise the banner of Jihad.

Attempts by the PA leadership to forge unity with Hamas are not new. Three months before the October 7 massacre, Fatah and Hamas leaders met in Egypt to discuss establishing a Palestinian unity government. Since then, representatives of the two parties have met on a regular basis to pursue the idea of unity.

One would think that Abbas would not only have condemned Hamas after its horrific atrocities against Israelis, but that he would at least hold the terror group responsible for the catastrophe it has brought on the residents of the Gaza Strip as a result of its October 7 attack. Instead, Abbas and his cohorts are chasing Hamas and begging its leaders to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.

All this is happening under the watchful eye of the US administration, which does not appear to oppose the idea of unity between Fatah and Hamas. Instead of pressing Abbas to “revitalize” the Palestinian Authority, the US administration is trying to stop Israel from eliminating the remaining Hamas terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip. Instead of denouncing Abbas for playing the Americans for fools, US President Joe Biden is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “hurting Israel more than helping.”

From Biden’s perspective, it is as though Netanyahu and the Israelis are responsible for the devastation in the Middle East since Hamas’s October 7 carnage, and not Iran, and Hamas’s main sponsor, Qatar, whose “protection money” evidently came “without protection.” As such, it would be no surprise if the Biden administration were to welcome a “Palestinian unity” agreement between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas – a deal that would be no doubt presented to the world as the US-made revitalization plan; in reality, just a tee-up for the next war.

Only this week, Qatar, presumably at the insistence of the US, reportedly told its Hamas guests to release the hostages or leave Qatar. Since the collapse of negotiations, however, this deal, if it was ever even real and not a “wink-wink,” may have fallen by the wayside. The problem could have been the lack of an “incentive” for Qatar.

All the US would have to do is to inform Qatar that it was cancelling the agreement the Biden administration signed in January — in return for nothing -– to extend for another ten years America’s use of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the forward headquarters of CENTCOM, and move it to a Middle Eastern country that does not, as Qatar does, have record of supporting Islamic State (ISIS/Da’esh), Hezbollahal Shabab, the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda as well as Hamas.

In addition, the United States could simply tell Qatar that, regrettably, the US has no choice but officially to change Qatar’s designation from “major non-NATO ally,” which it is not, to State Sponsor of Terrorism, which it is (see herehereherehere and here). The US could have the war over and all the hostages — not just the Americans — released in a minute.

The Biden administration — or simply concerned citizens — could also demonstrate with placards advertising Qatar’s support for terrorism, a public relations campaign it might not relish.

Claiming that Qatar is an ally because it is supposedly helping to negotiate the release of the hostages is as hare-brained as having Russia negotiate on behalf of the United States for the “Iran nuclear deal” in Vienna while Putin was invading Ukraine. Qatar does not want the hostages released and does not want Hamas defeated: Hamas is Qatar’s pet. The US should just leave Al Udeid Air Base — or seriously threaten to, not a “wink-wink.” By stationing its forces there, the US is doing Qatar a monumental favor, not the other way around. Without the US airbase, Qatar is just a rich, extremely vulnerable sandbar, as its rulers are undoubtedly aware.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

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