By Khaled Abu Toameh, GATESTONE INSTITUTE
August 5, 2014 at 4:00 am
By strengthening his ties with Hamas, Abbas is burying any chance of a peaceful solution with Israel.
Despite predictions to the contrary, the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas seems not only alive and well, but stronger than ever.
Over the past month, the two parties have been waging separate wars against Israel – one (Hamas) on the battlefield and the second (Fatah) in the international arena.
At the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, political analysts predicted that the unity agreement that was signed between Hamas and Fatah last April would be one of the war’s first victims.
During the war, however, Fatah and Hamas refrained from criticizing each other, as they have been doing ever since they signed the unity agreement.
Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also head of Fatah, took advantage of the war to launch scathing attacks on Israel, accusing it of perpetrating war crimes and genocide.
Nonetheless, Abbas did not criticize Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups for firing rockets and mortars at Israel. Nor did he ever denounce Hamas for breaking several cease-fires with Israel.
Similarly, Hamas’s top political leaders have largely refrained from criticizing Abbas or Fatah throughout the war.
True, at the beginning of the war some Hamas officials expressed discontent over the way Abbas was handling the conflict, especially regarding to his failure quickly to rally the Arab world in solidarity with the Palestinians.
On July 12, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum criticized Abbas for requesting a postponement of an Arab League meeting to discuss the war.
But Hamas has since changed its position, particularly in light of Abbas’s decision to endorse the Islamist movement’s conditions for a cease-fire.
Abbas and his Fatah officials have even chosen to act as unofficial spokesmen for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, often endorsing their statements and positions.
Most of the Hamas political leaders in the Gaza Strip were unable to appear on foreign TV networks out of concern for their safety. Instead, they were replaced with senior Fatah and PLO officials who did their utmost todefend Hamas and hold Israel alone responsible for the war.
The war has also seen Abbas and Hamas work together to coordinate their moves. Last month, Abbas met in Qatar with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to discuss a joint strategy toward the war.
Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President’s Office/Thaer Ghanem)
After the meeting, the two issued a joint statement calling for an end to Israeli “aggression” and lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the meeting, some Palestinian political analysts had predicted that the encounter between the two men would be tense and difficult.
Instead, the meeting between Abbas and Mashaal turned out to be friendly, with the Hamas leader praising the PA president for his anti-Israel campaign in the international arena.
Later, Arab media outlets quoted Mashaal as saying that Abbas’s endorsement …read more