While Hamas and Fatah continue to battle for control of Gaza, they are united in their war against President Trump.
By: Khaled Abu Toameh, The Gatestone Institute
Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction are continuing to contest control of the Gaza Strip.
However, the two rival parties are prepared to lay aside their differences and work together to foil US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, the details of which remain unknown.
Thwarting Trump’s peace plan has become a top priority for Hamas and Fatah. This is a mission that seems to be much more important than alleviating the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where 65% of families live under the poverty line.
Although the details of the Trump plan still have not been made public, Palestinians across the political spectrum say they will never accept any peace initiative presented by the Trump administration. Whatever the peace plan will be, the answer is No.
In the eyes of the Palestinian leaders, the US administration has shown unprecedented “hostility” towards the Palestinians.
The Palestinians are not only voicing strong opposition to Trump’s plan, which is known as the “deal of the century,” Hamas and Fatah are now saying that they will do their utmost to thwart it.
They say they see the plan as a “conspiracy aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause and national rights.” It is not clear why the Palestinians are opposed to a plan the details of which have not yet been made public.
Rejection of US plan, sight unseen
The Palestinian rejection of the plan is evidently based on unconfirmed media reports and rumors.
In any event, the Palestinians know that no US peace plan would comply with their demands.
Abbas’s Fatah is demanding 100% of the territories Israel secured in 1967, namely the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, for its part, is demanding 100% of everything, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. As Hamas leaders repeatedly affirm, the goal is to “liberate all of Palestine,” meaning all of Israel.
The Palestinians have not presented precisely how they intend to foil Trump’s plan, if and when it is made public. At the very least, street protests and strong condemnations of the US, Israel and any Arab country that accepts the peace plan can be expected.
Hamas and Fatah, however, are still quarreling over the “reconciliation” agreement they signed in Cairo in November 2017.
According to Hamas, the agreement has failed because of Abbas’s refusal to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.
The sanctions include the forced retirement of thousands of Palestinian Authority civil servants and the suspension of social assistance to hundreds of families. In addition, Abbas has refused to pay Israel for electricity and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Turning the tables, however, Abbas and his government hold Hamas responsible for hindering the implementation of the “reconciliation” accord, which was achieved under the auspices of Egypt.
Hamas’s refusal to disarm and cede military and political control of the Gaza Strip is the main obstacle threatening to sabotage the agreement, they charge.
Evidently, Hamas and Fatah care more about their wrangling for power than about the well-being of their people in the Gaza Strip.
No progress for Palestinians
The arm-twisting between the two rival parties is spurring intense suffering in the Gaza Strip, where a number of hospitals have been forced to close down as a result of severe shortage in medicine and generator fuel.
While Fatah and Hamas are continuing to hurl abuses at each other, however, they see eye to eye on the issue of Trump’s “deal of the century.”
Hamas and Fatah are willing to support each other and join forces in the war on the US administration’s plan.
Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has gone so far as to praise Abbas for his staunch opposition to the “deal of the century.” The former Hamas leader said that his movement would even support Abbas in a standoff with the US administration.
In statements published on February 17, Mashal said that Abbas was “the strongest party that is obstructing” Trump’s plan. The Palestinians, Mashal added, will be the only ones to stand against the plan.
Mashal said that he was even prepared to forgive Abbas for punishing the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip — all for the sake of thwarting the US peace plan.
“In spite of the measures he’s imposing against the Gaza Strip and Hamas, the best solution would be to support Abbas in his opposition to the plan,” he said. “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ won’t pass as long as the Palestinians categorically reject it.”
Mashal’s remarks echo those of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other radical Palestinian groups that have also emphasized that Trump’s peace plan “won’t pass.” His remarks are also compatible with those made by Abbas and Fatah, who in the past few weeks have used every platform to express their rejection of the plan.
Take, for example, a recent statement issued by Fatah regarding the plan:
“Without Palestinian compliance, the ‘deal of the century’ won’t pass. The Palestinians reject it. They (the Trump administration) won’t find one Arab who will agree to betray Jerusalem and the Palestinian people.”
In recent weeks, Abbas himself has also come out against Trump’s plan – a move that has clearly earned him the backing of the former Hamas leader. Abbas says that he sees the plan as an attempt by the US administration to “impose dictates” on the Palestinians.
“We don’t take instructions from anyone,” Abbas was quoted as saying. ” We have said ‘no’ to Trump and we won’t accept his plan. We say ‘no’ and 1,000 ‘nos’ when it comes to our fate, cause and people. We don’t accept the US as a broker between us and Israel.”
The Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip who are dying for lack of proper medical treatment care little about Trump — or about any peace plan. Neither do the thousands of employees who have been deprived of their salaries or the students who are unable to leave the Gaza Strip because of the continued closure (by Egypt) of the Rafah border crossing. For them, this is a battle of survival.
Hamas and Fatah leaders, meanwhile, are engaged in a rather different battle of survival: that of their leaders to retain their power.
They are prepared to continue fighting each other to the last Palestinian. It may be true that the Egyptians, in the “reconciliation” their brokered, failed to achieve Palestinian unity. The Trump administration has apparently succeeded where the Egyptians failed: in uniting Hamas and Fatah against an initiative for peace.