Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Hamas and the Art of Time-Wasting | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An official Egyptian statement released the day before yesterday expressed regret over Hamas’s decision to boycott the reconciliation talks with Fatah in Cairo and in the process wasting an opportunity for national unity, despite the strenuous efforts exerted by the Egyptians the statement said.

But the question here is; what’s new about that?

This is Hamas, and the way its leaders operate. Hamas has not fulfilled a single promise to date, except those made to Iran, Syria, and Israel. They have never been critical of Damascus, while at the same time dwelling within Tehran’s political sphere. Hamas has committed to a truce with Tel Aviv that does not bring peace, and has not improved the quality of life for the people in Gaza.

Besides this, Hamas has thrown away many other opportunities, including backing out on the Mecca Agreement, using arms to take over the Gaza strip and in the process splitting Palestinian ranks. Moreover, Hamas’s leader Khalid Mishal only remembers his fellow Arabs when the Israeli military machine targeted him, and then he appeared on our screens wearing a mufti turban trying to reconcile the Arab world, recalling stories of doom and gloom.

Hamas had already withdrawn from what was called at the time the Yemeni Initiative, finding a plethora of excuses to do this while always blaming the Palestinian government. And why not, since nothing prevents Mishal and his associates from backing out of agreements and covenants with Arab nations, while no one holds their credibility into account.

Hamas were not going to Cairo to negotiate, but rather attempt to buy more time for its political maneuvering, bearing in mind that all it wants to do is improve its image on the Arab Street. As for Hamas’s excuse for backing out of the negotiations, namely political prisoners held by Fatah, this is merely a smoke screen at best.

And even if this excuse was true, wasn’t it Hamas’s obligation to meet with the Palestinian government and attempt to resolve these outstanding problems? Negotiations do not usually take place between friends; but rather between those who have problems with each other. Wasn’t it enough that Fatah had agreed to meet with Khalid Mishal and Hamas even though they were forcibly overthrown by them in Gaza through use of arms!

Since Hamas began negotiating with the Egyptians in Cairo, several elements within the movement have called for a foreign non-Egyptian mediator, more in line with the German mediation between Israel and Hezbollah.

By calling for foreign mediation, Hamas is simply trying to buy more time, which is in line with the Iranian policy seen in the last three months, which compromises of keeping a low-profile, allowing them to gain international legitimacy which in turn won them internal legitimacy, and an international breakthrough.

The signature of Hamas has always been that of missed opportunities, and disengaging from Arab countries. Prolonging negotiations with Hamas is nothing more than a waste of time, as the group has chosen a lifeboat other than an Arab lifeboat, and a plan that takes a route other than an Arab one. What Hamas is doing is nothing more than political extortion; they are walking a line between Damascus and Tehran, and making a truce with Israel, while at the same time remaining friendly with the Arab world.

And so it is up to the Arabs- and this is for the best- not to waste their time with Hamas, and to support the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the legitimate Palestinian government, since Abbas is a politician who does not gamble, and sticks to the important regional issues.