NEWS & ANALYSIS: Trusting Hamas

All power to Hamas …

During the years 2000-2006, Hamas obtained all the war medals it needed by steering what has become called the al-Aqsa Intifada. There was no higher reward for the leaders of Hamas than an esteemed reputation in the Islamic world, the ability to inflict pain on Israel, discredit Yasser Arafat, and achieve martyrdom; the ultimate goal of jihadis worldwide. By 2006, it was clear that something was still missing for Hamas. It was the opportunity to rule; the chance to dictate policy and be recognized not only by Arabs and Muslims but by the international community as well.

That, of course, in addition to their conviction that they could run a state, combat corruption and find jobs for the Palestinians. They sincerely believed – and still do – that they can deliver if given the chance. This is actually why they were voted into office in 2006. Palestinians did not vote for them because they promised to annihilate the state of Israel. They actually did not use that during their parliamentary race but rather, campaigned on a social agenda, banking on the bankruptcy of Fatah and the numerous shortcomings that surfaced after the death of Arafat in November 2004. It was a pragmatic victory rather than an ideological one. The Palestinians voted for Hamas because they promised better schools, more security, less bureaucracy and no corruption. Voters included seculars and Christians.

Giving them the full burden of government would have sidelined them from the resistance – the way it did to Fatah after 1993. They would have been too busy cleaning up house in the civil service, inspecting schools, and building roads, to lead a proper resistance. They made several important gestures towards Israel and the Americans, however, crying “Uncle” without actually saying it, because they wanted recognition as statesmen rather than guerilla warriors. Decision-makers in Washington, however, refused to listen, seeing Hamas as no different from al-Qaeda, because of its Islamic program. Instead of taking advantage of the situation, Israel brought Hamas back to the fold of the resistance (what they know how to do best). [complete article]

Egypt: Hamas, Fatah should control Gaza border together

Cairo wants Hamas and Fatah to jointly operate the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, a spokesman for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the border was closed yesterday by mutual agreement of Egypt and Hamas, 12 days after the Islamic organization blew up the wall that sealed it.

Speaking after a meeting between Mubarak and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said that Egypt would not allow the border to reopen. “Egypt is a respectable country,” he said. “You can’t break open its borders and throw stones at its soldiers.”

What Egypt would prefer, he said, is for the Rafah crossing to reopen under the same arrangements that were in place before Hamas took over Gaza last June – namely, under Palestinian control alongside EU monitors. The monitors left after the Hamas takeover, causing the crossing to be shut. Now, said Awad, “the ball is in the Europeans’ court.” [complete article]

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