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Testing Religious Authority before Negotiation! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The dispute between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and Hamas in Gaza reveals many hidden aspects about the two movements and their alliances. It has illustrated the extent to which they exploit the Palestinian Cause and religion, and the pressure of political finance on their decisions.

The Islamic Jihad movement, which is facing financial deficit, resorted to using the weapon of religion against Hamas, which in return responded with the very same weapon. All of this is happening to consolidate the internal positions in Gaza in front of the supporters of these movements.

What Islamic Jihad and Hamas want is not important; the importance lies in what their disputes have revealed, especially as Gaza is cut off from any impartial media and its inhabitants are scared of speaking the truth. Therefore the battle between the two sides is revealing things that we do not know. According to the report published in Asharq Al-Awsat recently Islamic Jihad is accusing Hamas of detaining its members, attempting to take over its mosques and monopolizing Sunni and Shia financial support, which would explain the financial crisis that Islamic Jihad is currently experiencing (as first revealed by Asharq Al-Awsat a week ago).

The list of accusations made by Hamas against Islamic Jihad includes the charge of promoting the Shia doctrine in Palestinian territories – which Hamas based on the fact that some members of Islamic Jihad opted to follow Shiism – because a picture that showed Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad movement Ramadan Shallah visiting Khomeini’s grave was published.

It is odd that Hamas, internally of course, is attacking Islamic Jihad for its ties to Iran and Hezbollah whilst Hamas itself receives financial support from Iran. In the past we have seen leading figures of Hamas taking part in Friday prayers in Tehran’s mosques in the presence of cameras.

What’s stranger is that when Dr. Yusuf al Qaradawi accused Iran of attempting to spread the Shia doctrine [in Sunni countries] Hamas distanced itself from this accusation, in fact some Hamas supporters, particularly those within the Muslim Brotherhood, had the audacity to confront Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi. However today, following a dispute between Hamas and Islamic Jihad over money and power, Hamas has embarked upon attacking Islamic Jihad from the pulpits of the mosques in Gaza based on the pretext that it is spreading the Shia doctrine within the Palestinian territories.

The dispute over finance is understandable, in fact it was expected, especially considering Iran’s internal situation at present. However, this dispute has revealed the extent to which both parties exploit religion politically within the Palestinian territories, especially when it comes to the issue of negotiations with the US and Israel. The Mufti of Hamas [Yunus al Astal] explained, “The ambivalence towards those conducting the dialogue as well as the power they have to exert pressure is what prevents talks being held with Israel. The government has abandoned all of these pressure issues, and those conducting the talks do not have any national or religious authority.”

This is the level that the absurdity of Islamic Jihad and Hamas has reached as the Mufti of Hamas said that the negotiations held by the Palestinian Authority have no religious or national authority. This means that Hamas has reduced religion to its own vision, and that the rest of the Palestinians must adhere to it; for example Hamas has completely ignored the fact that the Christians are part of the Palestinian nation and have also made many sacrifices.

All of this is clear proof of the extent to which these movements exploit the Palestinian Cause and of the magnitude of financial corruption regardless of the sources of finance and the way it is used. It is also evidence of the amount of political absurdity and exploitation of religion. There’s nothing left for Hamas to do but test every Palestinian negotiator to examine the level of his religious authority!

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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