The decision of Arab foreign ministers to ask Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “continue assuming responsibility as the head of the Palestinian Authority” until national reconciliation is achieved and until a date for new presidential and legislative elections is set represents clear Arab support for Abbas.
It is evidence that the Arabs are voting against Hamas. This is an important and courageous decision that the Arabs have long avoided, which pushed Hamas to continue to divide the Palestinian rank and weaken it in the confrontation against Israel.
During his speech that he delivered at the Arab Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cairo, Saudi Prince Saud al Faisal said, “If our fear of deepening the Palestinian rift prevents casting accusations against one of the two disputing political parties, then we must remind them of an irrefutable fact that they, and all of us, should always bear in mind; the sole beneficiary of conflict within the Palestinian leadership is Israel.”
However, the situation of the Palestinians now and the extent of interference from external forces, Iran and Syria in particular, in exploiting the Palestinian cause, make it necessary to call things what they really are. In the past, the Arabs failed to pin the blame on Fatah and today they will fail if they are not firm enough in criticizing Hamas.
It was also important to confront some of the procrastinating Arab positions towards the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian rift. Dr Saeb Erakat did well to confront requests to invite Hamas to [future] Arab Foreign Ministers’ meetings.
Therefore, the Arab backing of Mahmoud Abbas means that the ministers have taken a step in the right direction in making their position clear and holding Hamas responsible, as we cannot shed crocodile tears over Gaza whilst forgetting who is causing its suffering.
Hamas is always twisting the facts and blaming the Arabs for its own mistakes, therefore it is important for Arabs to call things by what they really are so that every party takes responsibility in face of public opinion.
The decision of the ministers to support Abbas, from now on, should be reflected in important Arab positions to call things by what they really are and to block smear campaigns. In this regard, real positions would be revealed to public opinion.
The simplest example of this is Hamas’ comments in response to the Arab decision [to support Abbas]. Hamas stated that the decision was illegitimate but the real question for Hamas is: is the armed occupation of Gaza legitimate?
Without doubt, Hamas’ distortions will not stop but they are being revealed everyday. It considered the decision to extend Abbas’ term the weakening of motivation for reconciliation “by the other side, just as it deepens the rift.”
This statement can be considered a clear example of Hamas’ blunders and lack of commitment as Hamas has shown no interest in Palestinian national reconciliation except in its verbal statements.
The importance of the Arab foreign ministers lending their support to Mahmoud Abbas is apparent through its keenness to protect the Palestinian cause from Hamas’ absurdity and demonstrates an Arab position that reflects awareness of the importance of timing and of the international situation.
It is odd that the Iranians and Syrians are speaking positively about the [upcoming] Obama period and that their allies in Hezbollah are silent whilst Hamas pushes to mix up the playing cards. It is as if Damascus and Tehran are sending a message to Washington that reads: Hamas is a card in the pocket…just talk to us and we will make it see reason!