Domestic Palestinian Internal chaos and anarchy:
Behind the Veils of Hamas
Khaled Duzdar *
Jerusalem - Once again, the domestic Palestinian
Internal chaos and anarchy has hit the headlines and the hearts of the
Palestinian public. The possibility of the coming Palestinian civil war has
become the focal concern and worry of all analysts and the Palestinian
public. This internal confrontation and challenges to authorities and powers
in Gaza might eventually lead the Palestinians to the worst future they ever
The Palestinian public’s stand should be taken seriously in any dialogue
between the confronting parties, particularly when all public sectors have
taken the initiative and presented their vision for a unified Palestinian
position. All of these initiatives followed the same framework: rejecting
the deterioration of the situation and calling all parties to adopt a joint
political agenda that will achieve a viable, secure, and sustainable
Palestinian state, thus averting civil war.
Various Palestinian individuals, factions and organizations claim that the
two states solution is the only possible acceptable solution and that the
Palestinian National Declaration of Independence from November 1988 is the
best basis for any government. These initiatives are a clear call to the
Hamas government to adopt this Palestinian National vision and nothing else.
President Abbas was very right in stressing the need to go back to public
with a referendum regarding this issue in this sensitive and crucial stage.
The referendum might be the right and only possible tool to alleviate the
internal Palestinian dispute and the conflict between Hamas and Fateh. The
National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners has received wide public
support for presenting a united Palestinian stand, but it lacks vision. It
would be much more significant if the referendum would present a new joint
Palestinian strategic vision, or "a new Palestinian platform," outlining
Palestinian interests that could be used to promote a Palestinian platform
Public opinion polls indicate the preferences of the public’s needs and
insights. The ultimate support of the public was the pedestal behind the
President's statement to the national dialogue opening meeting. The need now
is to reach a consensus on a realistic Palestinian strategy and policies for
The outcome of the National dialogue has apparently not yet brought the
Palestinians anything more than a modest sign of good will between the
different factions. It seems that it did not achieve a consensus on the
basic conflict issues, and it does not look like it will present substantial
and sustainable solutions for the crisis.
At the same time, the new Hamas government and its Minister of Interior are
more determined to bring the situation to a bloody confrontation between the
two heads of the Palestinian Authority. For both Abbas and Haniyeh it is a
matter of "to be or not to be," a chance they should make the best use of.
The Minister of Interior is revisiting his previous wrong decision on
redeploying the so-called "support unit" in the streets of Gaza.
The mistaken decision of using unofficial forces to maintain security in
Gaza is wrong and it will not bring security for the Palestinian public.
This hasty decision came only as a challenge to Fateh and its affiliated
members. The message is that "Hamas and only Hamas are in power and control
the Authority." This has created the worst kind of situation that the
Palestinian public needs these days. The unasked and unanswered questions
remain, why do we need all of these armed militias in Gaza and who exactly
is the enemy there?
Governing the people doesn’t mean deploying armed guerillas in the streets
under the name of "creating security". The enforcement of law and order has
to be carried out by an official, legitimate, constitutionally-recognized
authority, not by those who are themselves considered outlaws.
The deployment of these well-armed guerillas has proven that Hamas has
worked intensively on their army. They have made great efforts to prepare
this army for defending Hamas and its existence. They used the period of
calm with Israel to do all their preparation in training and equipping it
with personnel and arms necessary for ruling the Palestinians. This army was
not prepared to fight the occupation; they were only prepared to fight the
Palestinian leadership and to take over from Fateh, the Palestinian
Authority, and the PLO.
President Abbas should be aware that the Palestinians do not need a new army
or "new Presidential force," which will only bring additional and
unnecessary financial burdens. The solution lies not in hiring more
fighters, certainly not while the Palestinian leadership is unable to pay
the salaries of former forces and incapable of integrating the militias into
The new Hamas government should concentrate more on bringing substantial
solutions for daily public concerns, which is the internal security in its
broadest meaning - not guns in the streets. The Hamas-led government would
be much better off focusing their attention and energies on the financial
and economic solutions for the devastating economic situation. The Hamas-led
government should start thinking of effective, realistic steps to end the
Palestinian crisis. The Palestinian people and their existence should be on
top of their agenda. Sacrifices are needed and the Government should start
by adopting the right policies, not by sacrificing the lives of the people.
Hamas must consider changing its dogmatic stands. First they could
concentrate on how to unify the Palestinian people, and if that isn’t
possible, they should think more on how to prevent a civil war, even if that
requires the government to resign and to call for new elections. This is not
the time to challenge ourselves with dangerous internal wars. The collective
interests of the Palestinian public should always be above the particular
interests of any one group or faction.
Further enhancing the chaos, it seems that Hamas itself isn't unified under
one leadership and one agenda. There seems to be real contradictions between
the positions of the internal Hamas leadership and the external leadership
in Damascus. It is becoming more apparent that there is a growing crisis
inside Hamas. Moreover, it is now obvious that PM Haniyeh has not won with
the full support of the Hamas leadership.
The external leadership of Hamas that controls Hamas’s militia (Al-Qasam
brigades) seems to remains a higher authority than the local leadership. The
local hardliners and the external leadership are working together on a
different agenda which is incompatible with the National Dialogue and that
will lead very soon to serious divisions inside Hamas.
Hamas’s external leadership, which is hosted by the Syrian government, is
playing into the hands of Syria and Iran to serve their regional interests.
This policy will exacerbate the Palestinian position and cause, and once
again, the Palestinian cause will be utilized by outsiders to serve their
own strategic and regional interests.
If the attempts of reaching national consensus fail, the Palestinian
President should think seriously about dissolving the government and calling
for an emergency government. This is not to counter Hamas and its strategy,
but rather for saving the Palestinians from total destruction and an endless
internal conflict. The Palestinian public is patient enough to give Hamas a
limited carte blanche to prove that they are capable, but as long Hamas is
not making progress, they should not forget that they are accountable to the
public and the public will not wait forever while the entire society is
deteriorating. They would be wise to make decisions in the best interests of
securing peace and security for Palestinians and in advancing what most
Palestinians want – the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable
state that will live in peace with its neighbors.
* Khaled Duzdar is the Co-Director of the Strategic
Affairs Unit of IPCRI – the Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and
Information www.ipcri.org. This article is distributed by the Common Ground
News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.
Source: The IPCRI News Service, June 1, 2006.
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