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Mishal, Why Don't You Kick-Start the Issue? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The recent comments made by the head of the Hamas movement’s political bureau, Khalid Mishal, were perplexing. The exiled leader of Hamas said that the Arabs should not abandon the sea to foreigners, and slammed all Arab states for not sending ships across the sea to Gaza to break the blockade.

He said that he wanted unity to bring an end to Palestinian division, and made accusations against those in the Fatah movement who had laid down their weapons. He then commented on Egyptian efforts of initiating dialogue between the Palestinian ranks, saying that Hamas welcomed these efforts and was responsive to them, but that Hamas had refused due to two measures ‘the first that we confer with the Palestinian negotiator; and the second that the Gaza truce is extended into a strategic step’.

What is so bewildering here is that Khalid Mishal, who is in exile in Syria, made these comments faulting Arab states for not breaking the Gaza blockade during the ‘Right to Return’ conference in Damascus. Why didn’t Mishal call for Syria to be the first of the Arab countries to break the blockade? Why does Mishal himself not break the blockade and see the suffering of the people of Gaza for himself, since they are trapped, and cannot travel to Tehran, or meet Hassan Nasrallah, or travel to Sudan, as Mishal is able to do freely.

If Mishal had called for Syria or Iran to break the blockade, we would have line up behind him and called for Riyadh and Cairo and others to do the same? Why didn’t Mishal do this? Was that out of fear of disturbing Syrian-Israeli negotiations?

The confusion surrounding the comments made by the head of Hamas’s Political Bureau is evident when he speaks of unifying the Palestinian ranks, but who caused that division? Bearing in mind that President Mahmoud Abbas has been consistently vocal about the need for reconciliation, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia have done their best to achieve this.

Yet why did Hamas boycott the Cairo conference? Why have they not implemented the Mecca agreement? An easier question to answer would be; if Hamas were truly concerned for the welfare of the people of Gaza and the Palestinian cause, why don’t they withdraw from the 2007 Gaza coup d’état and call for early elections?

In addition to accusing Fatah of surrendering the option of armed resistance, Mishal also accused Egypt of wanting to make a strategic truce with Israel. But the question is who really surrendered the option of armed conflict which resulted in a truce with Israel? Didn’t Hamas also recently announce that it will hunt down anyone who fires rockets from Gaza?

And who but Hamas extended this truce with Israel time and time again? And what has changed today that makes Egypt’s truce efforts a betrayal, worthy condemnation? What about the attempts to portray Hamas as refusing a ‘humiliating’ truce, yet wasn’t this the same truce that was purported to be in the interests of the people of Gaza yesterday? The results say no, that it only protected the Hamas leadership.

Hamas has strengthened its ranks not to fight a battle of liberation, but for the petty reason of protecting its control of the Gaza strip, and at the expense of the Palestinian state as a whole. Just as the truce helped others to strengthen their negotiating position in the region.

If Khalid Mishal believes that resistance is the answer, then why won’t he return to Gaza and kick-start this issue against Israel, opening the eyes of the Arabs to the reality of the situation, and using Syrian and Iranian support, especially since Hams considers this alliance beneficial to the Palestinian cause.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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