Hamas Splintering Over Israel Recognition?
On the same day that it was released by Israel that two Hamas terrorists were caught trying to enter Israel to establish a terror cell and carry out attacks on Israelis, Hamas spokesman Khaled Suleiman announced that Hamas is prepared to not only recognize previous PA-Israel agreements, but actually recognize the Israeli state within the confines of the 1967 borders.
What is being called the Barghouti peace plan was signed by jailed leaders of various Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The document was signed by Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, Hamas’s Abdel Khaleq al-Natsheh, Islamic Jihad’s Bassam al-Sa’di, the Democratic Front’s Mustafa Badarneh and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abdel Rahim Malouh.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman described the letter as good and serious and called on all Palestinian factions to respond positively.
That it was signed by leaders who are all jailed in Israeli prisons indicates direct Israeli involvement in the effort beyond the bright lights of the media & official spokesmen and isolated from the violent clashes between the battling factions of Fatah and Hamas vying for power within the Palestinian Authority.
It is no coincidence that, on the heels of this development that Israel has decided to release millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA but withheld since Hamas’ election victory and simultaneously resume fuel shipments to Palestinians. Gulf News states that Israel has caved to international pressure, but viewing the events within the same context properly, it is clear that the Israeli actions were in response to an at least symbolic moderation among the most violent among the Palestinians.
But not all Hamas members are on board with the recognition of Israel and the moderation expressed, and surely not all of the members of the other signatory groups are either.
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ political leader exiled and working from Damascus, Syria, pleaded with the region to send arms, money and new recruits in a speech delivered while the Barghouti draft was being finalized. In an effort to appeal to the widest audience, Meshaal said, “We ask all the people in surrounding Arab countries, the Muslim world and everyone who wants to support us to send weapons, money and men. You should not shy away from of this. This is resistance, not terrorism.” But images of the shells of commuter buses and the shattered bodies destroyed by Hamas in the past belie this message. If some of Hamas is willing to moderate, clearly Meshaal is not among them.
We may be seeing the beginning of the splintering of Hamas into two distinctly different groups. The same can be said of the other groups as well, with, for example, the non-compliant members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade driven farther from the abiding signatory members of Barghouti’s Fatah.
The upside of this development is huge, while the downside is simply business as usual. If the Barghouti peace Plan proves to be sincere substance and not merely advantageous short-term symbolism, this is an important step. Given the history of the groups, that is a big ‘if’.
But most substantive change begins with a gesture. Could this be that gesture? Time will tell.