Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Fighting in the West Bank | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Discussions in the past few days focused on Hamas’s threat of halting talks in Cairo because of the fighting that took place between its armed men and members of the Palestinian Authority [PA] forces in the City of Qalqiliyah in the West Bank.

In fact, this is not the issue, even though Hamas succeeded in turning the focus on the dialogue rather than on that useless fighting. The issue is the appearance of Hamas’s armed men in the PA stronghold. What is it that prompted them to appear armed in an area controlled by the PA and, in turn, be drawn into a confrontation during which Palestinians from both sides were killed?

Who is responsible for this serious development, the appearance of Hamas’s armed men in the West Bank? This development is a sign that a war worse than that, which happened in Gaza, may take place in the West Bank. If such a war breaks out, alarm bells will be sounded in many capitals to warn that a Palestinian civil war is closer than all those who are concerned over the situation in our region had thought.

Regardless of the details of this crime, which brothers committed against one another, no one can justify the violation of the existing involuntary truce. This truce between Hamas and the PA is based on dividing the occupied Palestinian territories between two authorities, with each authority being happy with its land, government, forces, intelligence agencies, prisons, publicity, and foreign relations. These two authorities are separated by Israel.

Even though their separation is bad, at least it put an end to the fighting in Gaza and the West Bank when the PA personnel left Gaza following the famous coup that Hamas carried out. During this coup, Hamas forces seized [Fatah Movement] security centers in the city where blood flowed in the streets in an ugly form the like of which was not seen before in the history of the Palestinian movement.

The appearance of the Hamas fighters in the cities of the West Bank, which is under the PA rule, came as a warning of a greater danger, the danger of the start of new battles that will put a stop to the peace talks and disrupt the work of the Palestinian Government. Abu-Mazin [PA President Mahmud Abbas] designated Salam Fayyad again to lead this government, instead of waiting until Hamas officials agree to participate in a national government.

President Mahmud Abbas says that it is a caretaker government and it will be dissolved when the brothers in Hamas agree to participate in a government and, therefore, there is no reason to reject it. The West Bank residents need a government to run their municipal affairs and provide the various services, and it is the duty of the PA to resume its work, instead of waiting in the hope that they will reach an agreement in Cairo after many months of repeated trips to Cairo.

If my suspicions are valid, Hamas is angry at its failure and jealous of the PA’s dominance. It will not let the discussions that were held by the fireplace in the White House between Abu-Mazin and Obama go without undermining them.

Perhaps, Hamas is looking for a battle as an excuse to sabotage the PA’s comfortable situation in the West Bank and compel various forces, states of the region, big powers, armed factions, political groups, and ordinary citizens to include it in every move and not ignore it.

If that is the goal, Hamas will practically succeed in entering the arena as an acceptable player. In fact, it will succeed in ruining the West Bank, foiling the peace plan, satisfying Iran, disrupting the work of the Fayyad government, and relieving Israel of the pressure of US President Barack Obama and the international community.

Therefore, Hamas has to revise its calculations well because this will not be like the Gaza war with Israel. Rather, it will be more like Hezbollah’s war on west Beirut. Hezbollah was disgraced in the Arab world after that war, and Hamas will make the same mistake.