Tue. Mar 20 2018

Thirty years in the company of Hamas

Dec 16 2017

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Since it was established as a Palestinian movement dedicated to fight the Israeli occupation, Hamas is still sticking to its principles and even formed an obstacle to today’s Trump deal of the century.

Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which was created from the womb of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. It was founded, among others, by Shaikh Ahmed Yassin, and all of its leaders and members were also with the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas ideology is derived from the ideology and charter of the Brotherhood. It was the fuel of the First Intifada (Uprising), which inspired the movement to announce its foundation on 14 December 1987.

In his book Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, Palestinian academic and intellectual Dr Azzam Tamimi wrote that the founding statement was written on 9 December 1987, which was the second day of the intifada, five days before it was announced officially. I do not know why the founding of the movement was not announced on that day and was delayed, but perhaps it was for security reasons or due to harassment and hindrance from the late Yasser Arafat, who feared both for Fatah and that the rug would be pulled from under him. He tried many times to prevent the Islamic resistance from emerging. Regardless of the reason, the announcement of the movement was an unprecedented international declaration that caused an earthquake in Israel.

During that time, there was an Islamic awakening within the Muslim states. They were shaking off the effects of the Westernisation that had been imposed on them for almost a century. This period also witnessed the growth and prosperity of other Islamic movements and they were achieving victories, such as the success in Afghanistan against the Soviet invaders. Israel fears those who fight it on the basis of doctrine, especially the doctrine of Islam, so it shook on the day that Hamas declared its establishment, especially during the first days of the intifada, which paralysed the Zionist state’s institutions.

Muslim Brotherhood branches all over the world embraced Hamas and considered it to be their resistance project to liberate all of Palestine, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. They welcomed Hamas, as did many Muslims around the world, who found what they were missing for a long time. The movement went on to offer more sacrifices and martyrs, including Shaikh Ahmed Yassin, Dr Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi and other leaders who were assassinated by the Israelis, the former as he left his local mosque in his wheelchair. Hamas made many sacrifices in order to put the Palestinians back on the right track and reinforce the idea that Palestine is the right of the Muslim Ummah, first and foremost, and that it is the Muslim nation’s top priority, and not only a Palestinian right.

Since the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1965, it has been regarded as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. However, the PLO was a disappointment and it gradually turned the Palestinian cause into an Arab issue, and it was then marginalised and became a purely Palestinian issue that only concerned the Palestinian people. The PLO got caught up in the Oslo Accords and gave the Israeli occupation the legitimacy that it could never have dreamed of having. Meanwhile, the Palestinian people walked away from the Oslo Accords empty-handed and have still not got the Palestinian state that they were promised. Instead, the Israelis have occupied even more Palestinian land and worked to Judaise whatever Palestinian landmarks and historical cities were left, imposing Hebrew names over the past 25 years since Oslo.

Now, by means of a siege, boycott and all forms of extortion, the PLO — led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the head of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority — wants to subjugate Hamas in the same way that it did with Fatah, and drag the movement into negotiations with Israel through the cursed reconciliation between the two major factions, under Egyptian auspices. This reconciliation was clearly achieved for the sake of Israel, not for the sake of Palestinian national unity, as is claimed. After they have pushed Hamas out of the political picture, they want to declaw it and strip it of all sources of power. This is the true purpose of the reconciliation; they want to disarm Hamas and put it under the control and authority of the PA. This has been stated by PA President Abbas several times, and it aligns with the Israeli desires announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is, quite simply, because it is easier to merge Hamas into the Oslo-created PA by means of the agreement imposed by the Trump administration and adopted by several Arab states, which stipulates normalisation with Israel as part of the “deal of the century” scenario.

This is the real dilemma in which Hamas put itself by means of the reconciliation agreement; it is a minefield. This was no secret to anyone, not even to Hamas. Perhaps Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the movement in Gaza — who has made additional concessions to Fatah by giving it more than it demanded, thus tempting it to impose its own conditions and be inflexible in its positions — sees a way to get out of this dilemma. I believe that this will be a very difficult feat.

Hamas can, of course, choose to continue as a resistance movement and stand against Oslo with everything at its disposal to correct the strategic mistake that it has made. This, though, will be difficult now that it has come under the control of the Egyptian intelligence agencies, and given President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s hostile position towards the movement. Al-Sisi will not allow a repeat of the 2007 scenario, when Hamas took full control of Gaza and expelled Fatah, which had planned a coup against the democratically-elected government. If Hamas fails to do this, it stands to become a chapter in the history of the Palestinian resistance that began in the 1920s, and a new resistance group could spring up as the torchbearer of the struggle to liberate all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

“And if you turn away, He will replace you with another people; and they will not be the likes of you.”

Source: Middle East Monitor
Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh

Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh

She is an Egyptian writer and political analyst.

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