Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- a year after Hamas’s military takeover of the Gaza Strip, voices demanding an end to the state of division and estrangement between the two biggest factions, Hamas and Fatah, have not stopped.
This division placed the Palestinians under three authorities – Israeli, Fatah, and Hamas – without their having a homeland or sovereignty. Out of fear of deepening this division, leaderships of the biggest organizations have pushed toward reconciliation and the return of dialogue, even if “under the table,” despite their conviction of the difficulty of reaching a solution. Within Fatah, there were continuous differences in the stances, even in public. Hamas, however, appeared to be united round one man, even with regard to the military resolution issue. But in fact, some of its leaderships, particularly those who belong to the second rank, did not stop applying pressure on their leadership to revert things to what they were like before control of the Strip.
Ghazi Hamad, previous spokesman in the name of the deposed government in the Gaza Strip and one of the advisors to deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “My voice and the voices of others did not stop. They formed a source of pressure that finally yielded fruit.” He added,”Deciding matters through force has caused great losses and harmed the cause.” According to him, a year after the division, everyone became convinced of the need to return to the table of dialogue.”
Hamad does not believe that he and his comrades have paid the price for voicing their opinions sometimes in a difficult reality divided along party lines. He said, “We used to practice and express our convictions. Myself and others from among the Hamas leaderships used to call for dialogue and discuss the need for it amongst ourselves.” He continued, “We know that it is not possible to realize a calm and lift the siege with the division and the tragic situation as is.
We said before that: The best amongst you is the one who starts peace.” Muhammad al-Barghuthi, a leading Hamas figure who used to be minister of labor in two previous governments, one formed by Hamas and the second by the national unity government, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “together with his colleagues the ministers, and some of those considered to belong to Hamas and close to, they applied huge pressures on the movement within the one year in order to end the division and return to dialogue. Al-Barghuthi mentioned that during the crushing battles between the Fatah and Hamas fighters before the most recent control, they threatened more than once to resign from their positions in the case where the infighting continued.
They informed the prime ministry in Gaza at that time of their intention to submit their final resignation hours before the Palestinian president dismissed the national unity government, which was headed by Haniyeh. He added: “We told them that you, in Hamas and Fatah equally, have not respected this government (the unity government.”
According to Al-Barghuthi, this pressure on the Hamas leadership has not stopped at all, even after the Palestinian president called for dialogue. He went saying, “We used to contact them always. Sometimes we used to offer them advice and sometimes we would strongly criticize them. Al-Barghuthi justifies the continuing state of division despite the pressures they applied, saying: “The sound of the bullets was louder than the voices of the sensible people.” The former minister holds Fatah, Hamas, and the Palestinian president responsible for this division, which he sees as having “made the question of Palestine lose the international sympathy it had earned. It also weakened the Palestinian national project, leaving Gaza and the West Bank exposed to any Israeli violation.
Muna Mansur, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas and wife of Jamal Mansur, well-known leading figure in the movement who was assassinated by Israel, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We must return to dialogue. We have not stopped applying pressure in the direction of restoring the dialogue and ending the division.” Despite the fact that Mansur believes that their voices were not loud enough, she says that she and her colleagues in Hamas applied continuous pressures, even if through the telephone only sometimes, in order to push toward reconciliation. She added, “We always wanted to break the ice barrier. I believe that starting dialogue can guarantee that. She held the Palestinian president responsible for delaying the start of dialogue.” Like Mansur, some leaders from among the second ranks of Hamas who had spent years in Israeli jails, also spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat and expressed their rejection of the control by force of the Gaza Strip, and their hopes that things will revert to what they were like before.