Who will do what in the Middle East now?

By Walid Salem (for Safe Democracy)

What motivations made Hamas commit this Coup d’etat now? For what reasons was it so easy for them to take control of the security forces? What should each of the state holders do directly or indirectly within the conflict? In the following you have the responses.

PLUS: Gaza Coup D’etat (Part I), by Walid Salem

Walid Salem is a political analyst and the director of Panorama, the Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development, East Jerusalem office.

WITHOUT ANALYZING THE DIFFERENT Israeli, Arabic, and international reactions maybe it will be more useful to move directly to who should do what?

The main issue is that the PA needs a handle to finish the absurd situation in the Gaza Strip. This task might take a month to be solved, or one or two years as some observers already indicated, or it might not be solved at all.

The one month option is built on what is included in the Basic Law, which gives the president the right to declare a state of Emergency for one month only, if he wants to extend it later on, he must get the approval of the PLC which is already run by Hamas majority. The optimistic scenario in this case will be that Saudi Arabia or Egypt or any other country will be able to get the two sides together, and reach an agreement on the issues that created the crisis: The issue of the political partnership, and the issue of security partnership.

This option is unlikely, for several reasons, one of them that the PA is not ready to get together with Hamas before Hamas bring the situation back to what it was before the coup deta, something that Hamas will not accept, and the second is that even if the two sides will supposedly meet they will not be able to solve the strategic political differentiations between them.

The second option is that it will take one to two years time in order to solve the problem created in Gaza. According to the observers– the Arab mediators and also the Palestinian mediators (such as Islamic Jihad, or PFLP who might volunteer to mediate in addition of possible contacts between people from Fateh and Hamas who believe on the importance of dialogue between the two sides such as Naser Al-Qudwah from Fateh, and Ghazi Hamad from Hamas), will need such a period in order to get the two sides to a new agreement that precedes the last March MECA agreement.

This option is also very difficult because, again, of the absence of a political consensus between the two sides, unless the two sides will reach another vague agreement like the one of MECA, that is by itself a recipe for another future conflict.

Left, then, are two options: One is that there will be no agreement at all, or there will be another new vague agreement that will get the two sides together.

So what should Abu Mazen do?

Abu Mazen should work on two strategies: the First one is to act on the ground as if the agreement with Hamas will not be possible. This option would include building the PA structures, implementing developmental plans in West Bank and Gaza, rebuild a security force in Gaza in cooperation with Fateh and probably other PLO factions, illegitimate all Hamas military wings (and not only the executive force of Hamas as he did), and bring members of Hamas military wings to justice in the West Bank, and the second strategy to prepare for dialogue with Hamas, while sticking to his position of making this dialogue conditional to bringing the situation back to what it was before the last coup de ta in the Gaza Strip.

Eight important steps should be taken by Israel, in addition to its decision to release the Palestinian monies by withdrawing Israel, and to transform them into the new government led by Salam Fayyad:

First: To allow Egypt to redeploy big Egyptian military forces in the borders with Gaza in order to stop smuggling weapons to Hamas. This might require modifications on the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, or a new agreement, but this is still better than calling for an international force to be deployed there, something that Egypt already rejected.

Second: Raise the veto on building the PA security forces and provide them with weapons and ammunition in the West Bank, in order to build the force that will be able to prevent Gaza Coup de ta to be repeated any time after in the West Bank.

Third: Open negotiations with Abu Mazen on the political horizon, and not to exclude support to him on the security and financial issues which will make him look, in the eyes of his people, like a collaborator, unless he gets them tangible political results. These tangible political results cannot be less than an agreement on the destinations (two stats solution) and a plan on how to get there within an agreed-upon timeframe.

Fourth: To facilitate the process of allowing the humanitarian assistance to be brought in the Gaza Strip, and to differentiate between boycotting Hamas, and the need to not boycott the peoples of Gaza, because this boycott would give no other choice to the people in Gaza than supporting Hamas against Israel, while a policy that will help disconnect them from Hamas is badly needed.

Fifth: To keep the crossings to Israel from Gaza open for those who are against Hamas acts, and to allow the new government members in Ramallah to freely travel to Gaza and back when their work will require that.

The crossings will be administered from the Palestinian side from the Palestinian civil servants who work already in Gaza crossing borders.

Sixth: To allow Jordan to send Bader Troops of the Palestinian Liberation Army from Jordan to the West Bank in order to help the Palestinian Security forces, and also to allow Jordan to help train the PA security forces in West Bank.

Seventh: To work with Egypt and the EU on the following about Gaza:
– To rearrange Rafah crossing border to be directed by the Egyptians, and the Europeans in cooperation with the Palestinian civil police.

– To have Egyptian military teams reside in Gaza in order to protect the process of establishing new PA security structures in Gaza.

-To allow having Egyptian and European monitors in the seamline between Gaza and Israel.


As shown earlier, Egypt will have a big role on Rafah crossing borders, inside Gaza in order to help rebuild the Palestinian security forces there, and in the seamlines between Gaza and Israel. Moreover, Egypt has the role of bringing the Palestinians to a new political agreement that fits with the PLO previous agreements with Israel.

A major role is awaiting Jordan to re-train the PA security forces in the West Bank, and to send the Bader troops to the West Bank.

Help bring the Palestinian factions together.
Through international pressure: Get Syria to oust Hamas leaders from Syria, or to pressure them for political shifts in their positions.

If a political process will be created between Syria and Israel, the Syrian move against Hamas, or to moderate its positions might become more likely.

The Arab League and other Arab countries:
Help bring the Palestinian sides together for a new political and security agreement.
Promote more the Arab Peace Initiative, and find formulas in order to create the process towards a Middle Eastern Comprehensive solution.

Boycott Hamas coup de ta Government in Gaza, except for the attempt to influence their positions if still possible through relevant countries such as Turkey.

Help run the Rafah crossing border.

Help rebuilding the PA Security forces in West Bank and Gaza.

Help create a clear peace process between Abu Mazen and Ehud Olmert with a clear agreed upon destination.

Work with Syria in order to pressure Hamas leadership

Create a compressive Middle Eastern Peace Process.