A move to unite with the rival Fatah party in a Palestinian government has opened up a split in Hamas.The discord escalated this past weekend as Gaza leader Mahmoud al-Zahar criticized an agreement last week by exiled political chief, Khaled Meshal, to end a five-year rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. The accord named Mr. Abbas head of an interim power-sharing government, instead of naming a prime minister from Gaza, as Hamas initially demanded. Mr. Zahar told Egypt’s official news agency that the pact was mistake.
For Hamas, Khaled Meshaal is the leading orchestrator of the reconciliation effort. Meshaal is trying to reposition Hamas as a “moderate” Islamist party like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (from which Hamas is a spinoff) and move away from the Iranian sphere. But the Gaza leadership, led by Ismail Haniyeh, isn’t on board with this strategy. The WSJ article continues:
“It’s very noticeable that the Hamas leadership in Gaza is drifting away from the Hamas exiled leadership,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political-science professor at Al Azhar Univeristy in Gaza Ctiy. “Meshal has been weakened. He is trying to show some moderation because of the changes in the Middle East. But the Hamas leaders in Gaza Strip are on their own territory and not as affected.”
The bottom line is that resistance to Israel is still the leading strategy for many Palestinians. Some Gaza-based leaders are determined to continue the struggle, if not through an open insurgency, then by scuttling efforts to reconcile with Israel or unite Palestinians behind such an attempt. Peace is not at hand.