Ramallah: Healing the internal Palestinian rift seems to be unachievable despite the impact of the serious reduction in Iranian financial aid to Hamas and the departure of the Islamist group’s headquarters out of Syria.
The latest issue of contention between Hamas and Fatah is Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s move to appoint a new prime minister to fill the vacuum left with the resignation of caretaker premier Salam Fayyad.
Hamas rulers in Gaza pay the salaries of 50,000 workers and troops, which presents a financial hardship for the Islamist group similar to that faced by the Ramallah-based Palestinian National Authority.
“Hamas can handle the financial difficulties and compensate for the Iranian financial aid with a strict tax system, the tunnel trade, and financial aid from some Arab states,” said Hani Habib, a Gaza-based commentator and political analyst in an interview with Gulf News.
Western financial aid for the PNA is not unlike Iranian financial aid to Hamas, and is often connected to the political agendas of the donors, he said.
Iran had dramatically reduced its financial aid to Hamas after the Islamist group refused to support the Syrian regime led by Bashar Al Assad. “This Iranian attitude had basically disclosed that the Axis of Resistance connects the financial aid to loyalty,” said Habib, referring to the term used to refer to Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Syrian regime’s enmity to Israel.
Palestinian observers had expected that an end of Iranian financial aid to Hamas would facilitate a healing of the internal rift between the two rivals, Fatah and Hamas.
“This is an illusion as Hamas does not suffer a serious financial difficulty,” said Habib.
“It has become clear that Palestinian internal reconciliation is not connected with the Iranian financial aid to Hamas.”
The Islamist group of Hamas is no longer confronting with the Israeli occupation forces in the field, a stance which resulted in deterioration in the support of the Muslim world, according to Dr Ebrahim Ebrashi, who heads the Political Science Department at Al Azhar University in Gaza and is the former Palestinian Culture Minister.
“Hamas has become an authority and government which held a truce with Israel,” he said.
Ebrashi believes that Palestinian internal reconciliation is a bigger issue than Fatah and Hamas.
“Reconciliation has to do with geography which is totally and solely controlled by Israel,” he told Gulf News. “Palestinians should not dream of forming a national unity government this August.”
Hamas has moved from the arena of resistance to the arena of politics and that shift in Hamas strategy includes losses that Hamas must bear.
“It is true that Hamas has lost the Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah support, but Hamas’ leadership in Gaza and abroad believe that they can make it up,” he said.
“Hamas honestly seeks reconciliation with its rival Fatah under the Islamist group’s terms and conditions which secure Hamas a prominent role in representing the Palestinian people,” he said.
“Hamas is looking forward to representing the entire Palestinian people and take advantage of the reconciliation to achieve that goal.”
Commentators argued that the departure of the headquarters of Hamas from Syria remains the only pressing point for the Islamist group as it seeks to address Palestinian reconciliation.
“Hamas always wants its offices to be close to the Palestinian communities of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Egypt,” said Habib.