The Associated Press reports:
After four years of turbulent rule in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic militant group Hamas is weighing a new strategy of not directly participating in future governments even if it wins elections — an approach aimed at avoiding isolation by the world community and allowing for continued economic aid.
Hamas officials told The Associated Press the idea has gained favor in recent closed meetings of the secretive movement’s leadership in the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt and Syria, and that it helped enable last month’s reconciliation agreement with the rival Fatah group of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Talks on implementing that accord have dragged on, particularly over the makeup of a “unity government.” The agreement envisions a government of nonpolitical technocrats — in line with Hamas’ emerging thinking — but Abbas wants to retain current premier Salam Fayyad, a respected economist viewed by Hamas as a political figure.
The new approach reflects both the group’s rigidity and its pragmatism: On the one hand, Hamas refuses to meet widespread global demands that it accept Israel’s right to exist; on the other, its leaders grasp the price Palestinians would pay if the Islamic militants emerged fully in charge of a future government.