Ac­cord leaves is­sue of Ha­mas mil­i­tary wing un­solved

The Irish Times - - World News - Michael Jansen

The Egyp­tian-bro­kered Fatah-Ha­mas ac­cord, por­trayed as a break­through after a decade of bit­ter division, is par­tial rather than com­pre­hen­sive – with make-or-break is­sues of Ha­mas’s mil­i­tary wing and fate of Ha­mas-ap­pointed civil ser­vants re­main­ing to be re­solved.

Both sides are un­der strong pres­sure from Egypt, the US and Is­rael to col­lect Ha­mas’s weapons, de­mo­bilise Ha­mas’s mil­i­tary units, re­strict Ha­mas’s role in a na­tional unity gov­ern­ment and re­duce the pres­ence of Ha­mas civil ser­vants in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Fatah is, how­ever, un­der coun­ter­vail­ing pres­sure from Pales­tini­ans to reach com­pro­mises on these is­sues. Even Fatah mem­bers favour main­tain­ing Ha­mas’s mil­i­tary wing while putting it un­der the con­trol of the unity gov­ern­ment.

‘Col­lec­tive na­tional de­ci­sion’

Fatah of­fi­cial Ab­bas Zaki told the daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat: “We be­lieve that the weapons are needed and re­sis­tance is a duty, but we are seek­ing an agree­ment over the need for a col­lec­tive na­tional de­ci­sion as the ba­sis for the use of those weapons.”

He ar­gued that Fatah had not re­nounced the armed strug­gle, but said it should be based on na­tional con­sen­sus.

Hav­ing suf­fered un­der Fatah’s harsh and cor­rupt rule un­til 2007, Gazans want bal­ance in both the unity gov­ern­ment and Gaza’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. They also de­mand an early end to sanc­tions im­posed on Gaza that have cut the flow of elec­tric­ity and re­duced es­sen­tial med­i­cal sup­plies.

Fatah and Ha­mas are ne­go­ti­at­ing at a time of ex­treme weak­ness. Fatah has failed to se­cure through ne­go­ti­a­tions the promised Pales­tinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Ha­mas’s at­tempts to em­ploy mil­i­tary lever­age on Is­rael to ef­fect with­drawal from oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory have prompted dev­as­tat­ing Is­raeli wars in 2008-09 and 2014.

Their weak­ness has en­cour­aged Egypt’s pres­i­dent, Abed al-Fat­tah al-Sisi, to mount this rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ef­fort, the 13th since 2005.

Although Is­rael is said to sup­port rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, prime min­is­ter Binyamin Ne­tanyahu makes im­pos­si­ble de­mands of both Fatah and Ha­mas as the price of ac­cep­tance. He in­sists on the dis­band­ment of Ha­mas’s armed wing.

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