Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
Asharq Alawsat
October 26, 2008 - 7:00pm
http://www.asharqalawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=14535


There is no comfortable solution for the Palestinians to repair their domestic affairs other than the leaders abandoning their ambitions to lead. This is a fact that has been known for a long time. However, the problem is how to convince all these leaders when it's apparent how happy Hamas is with its sovereignty over Gaza, and its readiness to give everything to preserve it; the same applies to the others.

The fact is that the Palestinian president has proposed a negotiations' plan that offers an opportunity for a Palestinian Government without parties or leaders, because he proposed the formation of a technocrat government, i.e. ministers would be experts and not politicians or party members. Therefore, the government would be neither a Fatah nor a Hamas government, and the Palestinians would live in happiness and amicability, and would dedicate themselves to the achievement of two important issues: the first is managing their daily affairs, and the second is leaving the leaders to work on designing a peace plan for themselves, and also a peace plan with the Israelis.

I cannot imagine that this idea, which is assumed to satisfy everybody because it respects everybody, will be approved easily unless Hamas understands that there is only a short way to go on the road along which they are proceeding. Hamas has lived a difficult life, and has tried everything in order to establish a permanent position for itself on the ground; this includes a peace plan that is very generous to the Israelis, with the exception that it calls the plan a truce for 18 years in which it relinquishes Jerusalem, the refugees, and the borders in exchange for the Israelis to leave the Palestinians to fight each other while they live in peace without interference. At the time Hamas held a truce with Israel, it tried to engage in skirmishes with the Egyptians, and to drag them into a confrontation with the Palestinians and the Israelis; this attempt nearly succeeded in changing the map and not only the government in Gaza.

Now Hamas has three options that can give it something better than an isolated government. Either it accepts simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, and leaves it to the Palestinian people in the beginning of the New Year to decide who will be president and who will be prime minister; accepts a technocrat government that in reality represents a major concession by Abu-Mazin who will suffer from the exclusion of his politicians who are ministers from it; or as a last resort accepts the extension of the presidential term of Abu-Mazin for another year so that the election of the new president takes place at the same time as the elections for the Legislative Council.

Most probably the majority of Hamas members will accept all the three solutions if their leadership gives them the opportunity to choose. However, Hamas will not accept this, or rather cannot accept this, because its decision is neither in the hand of Haniyeh, Khalid Mishal, or any other senior leader, but it is in the hand of Damascus and Tehran. These two capitals will sell out the decision-making of Hamas as part of the first concessions demanded by the European or other negotiators. This is because practically Hamas is a cheaper card compared to Lebanon, or to the Israeli nuclear program.

I have heard an individual affiliated to Hamas admitting that they are worried because of the public auction in Syria, and they expect at any moment to be asked to leave for somewhere else away from Damascus. If this were to happen, it would be in the interest of Hamas, because it would restore its control to it, and would allow it to indeed negotiate according to its program on whose basis it fought the Palestinian elections in the beginning, before its decision was hijacked, and its steps became incompatible with its program. Hamas now is in a truce with Israel, at war with Fatah, reconciled with the Iranians, and in a hostile state toward the Egyptians and the Gulf countries.




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