Hamas’ Catch-22

Hamas’ Catch-22, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, June 29, 2017

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

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The voices rising from Gaza are not of war and certainly not of triumph, but of distress. It has been 10 years since its people took Gaza by force, and Hamas is not only looking at a dead end, but a Catch-22. Even as Qatar, its primary benefactor, is under a diplomatic barrage from its neighbors; the cries of despair are still emanating from Gaza, where residents are paying the price for Hamas’ isolation in the Arab world.

These are no longer the days of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, when Turkey and Qatar did as they pleased across the Arab world, and when Hamas leaders freely globe-trotted from capital to capital. Now, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is caged in; forced to wait until his Egyptian guard feels like letting him out.

Cairo has its own grudge against Hamas. It wants to see action first and foremost, such as the buffer zone being built along Gaza’s border with Egypt, intended to prevent terrorists from Islamic State’s Sinai branch from finding shelter inside Gaza under Hamas’ blind eye.

Thus, bereft of outside support and facing boiling distress at home, the Strip is convulsing from one crisis to the next. With so many people struggling to keep their heads barely above water (in the dark no less), Hamas is now even willing to consider waiving a white flag and handing over the keys to Mohammed Dahlan — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ detested political rival — who could very well be the only one capable of turning things around in Gaza.

Hamas hopes that Dahlan will suffice with the symbolic and powerless position of prime minister. But Dahlan is not a child, and with backing from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — and perhaps with a wink and a nod from Israel, as well — he can pull the rug out from under Hamas.

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

Explore posts in the same categories: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Qatar

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