Analysis: Hamas achieves victory, surpasses PA diplomatically

April 1, 2019 by TPS
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Israel and Hamas have agreed on a formula to calm the tensions on the Gaza border which entails Hamas’ cessation of violence in return for broad Israeli humanitarian concessions.

Gaza Photo: Mar-31 Kobi Richter

This new reality has instilled within Hamas a sense of achievement and places it ahead of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the diplomatic representative of the Arabs in Gaza.

Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar stated Sunday that Hamas can now negotiate the issues of Jerusalem and the release of terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails, and will not limit itself to the Gazan issue. The PA is aware that Hamas is bypassing Mahmoud Abbas and that it is positioning itself as a political entity in every aspect.

Egypt is serving as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, and thus Hamas has achieved Egyptian recognition of its status as a central political player, and other Arab states maintain contacts and dialogue with Hamas as well.

Hamas is presenting these latest developments as an achievement in the confrontation with Israel. Hamas said that the weekend’s events were “a test for Israel” and stressed that it would dictate the upcoming developments.

Hamas is showing great satisfaction and self-confidence, and its demands for significant concessions from Israel are growing. Hamas leaders arrived on Friday at the fence and took pictures with the demonstrators, hundreds of meters from IDF snipers.

The Egyptian delegation was invited to the fence to closely observe “restraint and public order” as Hamas deployed about 8,000 security personnel and security officers dressed in orange vests. On Friday, sermons in Gaza’s mosques declared that anyone who reached the border contrary to Hamas’ orders and was killed by IDF fire would not be considered a martyr in the eyes of Allah.

The social networks described these scenes as the pictures of victory. There were voices criticizing Hamas and demands not to participate in the demonstrations, but Hamas has proven that it can rally the public and maintain order on the fence. Hamas will now use its control of the border as leverage to demand that the Egyptians ensure that Israel complies with the conditions of the arrangement.

A senior Hamas figure said that they expect to receive a detailed Israeli timetable on Sunday regarding the easing of economic restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

PA expresses anger

The PA expressed great anger at the understandings being reached between Israel and Hamas. The PA spokesmen distributed propaganda material against what they called the “security coordination between Israel and Hamas” and stated that there is direct coordination taking place at the IDF headquarters at the Erez checkpoint. The PA also published pictures supposedly proving that Hamas members have met with members of the IDF’s Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria. Hamas itself has been known to attack the security coordination between Israel and the PA.

The PA is aware of Hamas’ achievements and is trying to minimize them. PA spokesmen say that some 250 dead and 30,000 wounded during the Gaza border riots have so far yielded no significant achievements. They disparaged Hamas and say that while the PA is responsible for political negotiations on the final status arrangements, “Hamas pays with great blood only to get from Israel another kilometre of fishing and another truckload of vegetables.” The PA is distributing flyers with the word “Hamasrael”, comprised of the words Hamas and Israel.

A Hamas spokesman said over the weekend that it was prepared to negotiate with the US and Europe.  In response, the PA charged that while it was boycotting the US because of its harm to the “Palestinian national interest,” Hamas was willing to meet the Americans.

A Hamas spokesman explained to the Palestinian public that Hamas is now approaching the core issues and that the Marches of Return will not end now, as long as the Palestinians do not achieve “the Right of Return.”

The Palestinian Authority expressed disappointment over the agreement between Israel and Hamas and of its apparent failure of pressure Israel and Hamas into a conflict.

In the weekend demonstrations, the flags of Turkey and Algeria stood out among the demonstrators.

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