The most important issue today is stopping Israeli aggression and saving Gaza, where the circumstances on the ground, and the political situation, have become more complicated.
A source close to an Arab leader told me that the Iranians are saying, “We were victorious until last Thursday; Hamas is resisting and the Saudis and the Egyptians are being subjected to a smear campaign, which is what we want; but the weakness of Hamas on the ground came as a shock to us.”
In the West, some people are saying that what Israel is doing in Gaza is making America and the West avoid a military confrontation with Iran. Others propagate that it has brought an end to the idea of a Palestinian state and accordingly, Gaza will be annexed to Egypt and the West Bank will join Jordan, and this is what the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit had warned against quite early on.
In our part of the world, Qatar and Syria are calling for another Arab summit. Damascus says let there be a summit for all the countries that will attend whilst other Arabs are saying that Hamas will not listen to us and is not taking the reality on the ground into account, therefore, what can we do about Israel or the international community?
One of the Arab ministers in New York said, “The situation is more difficult than you can imagine.” A source close to another minister said, “I doubt they will get anywhere in New York.” Therefore, any Arab summit would be one of empty slogans, casting accusations and one-upmanship. We don’t need any of this.
After all that, one fact remains: the victims of what is happening today are the people of Gaza and the entire Palestinian cause. The question is: what is the solution?
I believe that the one solution lies in the hands of the Hamas leadership. An immediate inter-Palestinian meeting must be held in Cairo under the auspices of Egypt in which Hamas should acknowledge that the legitimate representative of the Palestinians is President Mahmoud Abbas and where a national unity government should be formed granting Abbas the right to negotiate with Israel and to take the decision for a ceasefire and an end to the rockets.
Consequently, Abu Mazen, along with Egyptians, would be the guarantor for Hamas, and that would include an end to the launching of rockets, the presence of international observers in Gaza and the sorting of the issue of the crossings in accordance with international agreements. After that, the Palestinian Authority and an Arab commission would initiate international efforts to guarantee that Israel would take responsibility for atrocities that took place in Gaza, even financially.
Some might say that this would mean that the Palestinian president is raising the white flag on behalf of Hamas or that this is an implicit indication that Hamas has surrendered. This is nonsense. The so-called “divine victory” of Hezbollah in the 2006 war was not what brought an end to the aggression; the end of the aggression came with the Seven-Point Plan that was presented by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. After that Hezbollah authorized the Lebanese government to negotiate and take responsibility. Immediately after, the party retreated to behind the Litani River and for the first time in almost thirty years, the Lebanese army was deployed in the south and international forces of diverse ethnicities appeared.
That is what happened in Lebanon despite that the divine party’s claimed victory, and without a single Arab summit involved. Ironically, the Lebanese government saved face for Hezbollah at the time and protected Lebanon and this was the main concern. However, Hezbollah went on to stage the May 7 Beirut coup.
Today, the role of Abu Mazen is to save the Palestinians after the Hamas coup in Gaza. This does not mean saving face for Hamas; it is more important than that. It means saving the Palestinian cause, which is being threatened to a large and dangerous degree.