Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blessing in disguise for Hamas

Israel's campaign against Hamas has not broken its resolve or turned the people of Gaza against it

By Azzam Tamimi
(director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought (IIPT), London)
The Guardian

".....A significant outcome of the conference was the endorsement of Hamas as leader of the Palestinian struggle. This is reminiscent of what happened in the late 1960s when, after the Karamah battle in the Jordan valley in August 1968, the Arafat-led Fatah movement rose to prominence, took over the leadership of the PLO and gained recognition from Palestinians and Arabs alike as the legitimate leader of the struggle against Israeli occupation.....

Having shunned Hamas for months, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are now keen to work with the movement to resolve the crisis. Egypt has invited Hamas and Fatah to Cairo for talks and Saudi Arabia invited Khalid Mish'al, Hamas's political bureau chief, to Riyadh where he has had talks with top officials. The primary concern for all parties now is restoring order to the borders between Egypt and Gaza......

The Egyptians know well that if their borders with Gaza were breached once they could be breached many times more should the population of the strip continue to be subjected to sanctions and forced to act in this way. They know well too that Hamas is in charge and that nothing could be done without its involvement. They do, however, wish to see Mahmoud Abbas involved so as to bestow some form of "legitimacy" on what they do......

If - and when - it happens Hamas would be willing to enter into a medium or long-term truce depending on what Israel is willing to give back to the Palestinians. In the meantime, whatever Israel resorts to in order to weaken Hamas is only likely to strengthen it further. This has been the trend since the summer of 1988 that saw the first major mass detention campaign against Hamas by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza. "

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