When it tore down part of the wall at Rafah, Hamas was acting for the party’s own benefit, in an attempt to implement its Islamic Revolution program at the expense of unity between Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The author argues that Israel should lift the sanctions imposed upon Gaza and negotiate a comprehensive peace plan with Palestinian President Abu Mazen for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Neighboring countries such as Egypt should partake in the dialog, and Hamas and other factions must also comply with the peace process.
(From East Jerusalem) THE VIOLENT REOPENING OF the border crossing at Rafah, Egypt during the end of last month was seen as the beginning of the Gaza Strip’s angry response to the Israeli-imposed sanctions, which have essentially thrown all Gazans into a big prison, since all contact with the world outside of this very small strip (only 360 square kilometers) has essentially been cut off. A few days after the wall was breached, there was a change in the observers’ perceptions of what had happened: the entire world realized that Hamas had not acted for the good of the people, but instead for the party’s own benefit. The party had profited from the sanctions, and now Hamas is trying to reap political rewards from the breach in the wall.
FROM AN ISLAMIC SOCIETY TO A PALESTINIAN STATE
By using the money that it continued to smuggle through the tunnels between Rafah and Egypt, Hamas was able to feed its members and pay their employees and those in the military wing while the sanctions were in place. The party also continued to collect different types of taxes from the Gazans, and forced the tunnel smugglers to pay fees, as a way of raising more funds.
“Mazen has made it clear that the problems surrounding all of the border crossings around Gaza (including those that link Gaza to the West Bank via Israel) must be addressed, and not just the Rafah border crossing” And now, by tearing down part of the wall, Hamas is hoping to implement its Islamic Revolution program, at the expense of unity between Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are the three components of the Palestinian state to be established.
For this reason, Hamas wants to be on the Egyptian border. On one hand, it is hoping to attain Arabic legitimization of its imposed rule in Gaza; on the other hand, Hamas took this step in order to create a model for the spread of Islam.
This is the very first time that the Muslim Brotherhood to which Hamas belongs has been in power, and hence the organization is encouraging Hamas to create an Islamic Emirate in Gaza that will generate links between the different Islamic organizations in the world and influence them to make changes. This is just what Hamas has succeeded in doing.
Of course, this strategy has implications for the unification of the West Bank and Gaza, which is the basis for the PLO’s Palestinian national project. Hamas’ goal is to establish an Islamic Society upon which the Palestinian state will later be built, and not vice versa.
Consequently, this goal implies that opening the doors to potential neighboring Islamic countries is the first step towards building the Islamic society, and that, in accordance with this strategy, the Palestinian State would then come later.
MAZEN LEADS THE WAY
So then, what should the Palestinian President Abu Mazen, the Arab Countries, and especially Egypt do?
“Egypt should coordinate its initiatives towards Gaza with Mazen; this includes devising a plan to reopen the Rafah border crossing and following the previous agreements, cooperating to protect Egypt’s national security, and bringing Hamas, as well as other factions, to comply with the peace with Israel”Furthermore, what should Israel do? Well, as for President Mazen, he has already begun to tackle the issue in many ways, with the first among them being his repeated call to get the EU monitors back to the Rafah border crossing, in order to reopen it and run it under the previous agreements made with Israel. Hamas has already rejected this proposal because it is not included in the crossing and it gives Israel the right to monitor the border with cameras.
Secondly, Mazen has made it clear that the problems surrounding all of the border crossings around Gaza (including those that link Gaza to the West Bank via Israel) must be addressed, and not just the Rafah border crossing. To that end, Mazen has called upon Israel to agree to a plan to open all of these border crossings and put them under the control of his own Presidential Guards. In this way, Gaza and the West Bank would be linked together.
Of course, for it to work, Israel would have to accept the plan and reopen border crossings and lift the sanctions that hurt the poor Gazans; not Hamas, which continues to smuggle what they want in spite of the sanctions.
A COMPREHENSIVE PEACE PLAN FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED
Finally, Mazen is trying to reach an agreement with Israel for a comprehensive peace deal that would involve both the West Bank and Gaza territories. Therefore, the negotiations for peace will not exclude Hamas in the sense that Israel will not deal with the group through Egypt and other parties, given that the continuation of these indirect contacts with Hamas will make said party unwilling to accept Mazen’s conditions for returning to the negotiating table. But why does there need to be dialog with Mazen so that he can become the mediator between Hamas and the Arab and international community, when this can be done without him? This is exactly what Hamas’ leaders will ask.
With all of that said, it seems that Israel should lift the sanctions imposed upon Gaza and negotiate a comprehensive peace plan with Abu Mazen for both the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, it should finally address the issue of Gilaad Shalit, the Israeli soldier being held captive in Gaza, with Mazen, and not Hamas. In turn, Egypt should coordinate its initiatives towards Gaza with Mazen; this includes devising a plan to reopen the Rafah border crossing and following the previous agreements, cooperating to protect Egypt’s national security, and bringing Hamas, as well as other factions, such as the Islamic Jihad, to comply with the peace with Israel. Egypt also needs to discuss the Gilaad Shalit matter with Abu Mazen, and the agreement that coordinates his release should either be signed by Mazen, or at least fully coordinated with him. As for the EU, they will bring back the Rafah border crossing monitors when the local sides agree.
If everything hereto mentioned is combined with a clear plan for the development of Gaza and implemented with direct cooperation with the people there, then the Palestinian nationalism will be revived, and Palestinian statehood will be on the way.