Ismail Haniyeh offered to give up his post in exchange for reaching an agreement between Palestinian factions, which are locked in a dispute over power. It is a generous offer and a moral and national stand but it has come at the wrong time and was made by the wrong person.
If Haniyeh gave up his premiership and the Palestinian Authority accepted his resignation, this would have harmed the Palestinian state. Haniyeh became prime minister through legitimate elections; he was voted in by the majority. If he renounced his post, he would have given up on his duty and Hamas would have let down the Palestinian people. It is crucial Haniyeh (or any other leader Hamas chooses) remain in power in order to build a fully functioning state. The premiership is not just a post to haggle over, in order to reach a political solution; it can’t be sold because of the actions of Fatah who has launched a war on Hamas after it lost the elections.
Retaining Haniyeh as prime minister serves three objectives: it will create an institutional regime and will introduce the principle of the transfer of power. It will also oblige the winner in elections to fulfill his duties instead of running away from them during times of crisis. In addition, keeping Hamas in power and Fatah on the street is the best way to rid Fatah of the corruption that is widespread in its organs. If Haniyeh renounces his post and Fatah returns to the government, disorder, stealing and the misuse of privileges will return with it.
Keeping Haniyeh in power is in Fatah’s best interest because it will force its leaders to rid the party of its ill practices and fix their negative reputation. Until now, Fatah has only done two things: cried over its electoral losses and provoked turmoil in the Palestinian street.
Even if Haniyeh gave up his post to a neutral technocrat, this will defeat the political process, as the Palestinians had wanted it, and will be a nail in the coffin of the first principle of democratic practices: the transition of power according to election results. Yes, Hamas has made a number of mistakes by rejecting internationally recognized agreements and refusing to engage in peaceful negotiations. It has caused great harm to its people. But Hamas can claim it has practiced its right and that voters elected it. This is, indeed, true.
The question remains: Why is Haniyeh generous with his post and ready to renounce what is rightfully his? Is it because he is unable to govern? Or is the lack of funds to blame? Is he trying to run away from unavoidable future political challenges, such as recognizing what has already been signed and negotiating the rest at a later date?
Either war, the Palestinians need to keep Haniyeh as prime minister and Hamas in government. This is necessary for correct political work in order to establish a sound “republic” which will later be the driving force to reach a final solution to the Palestinian issue, according to the Palestinian people’s wishes and not those of a governing party or the opposition.