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memri
February 3, 2009 No.
2200

Fatah and P.A. Representatives: What Victory Is Mash'al Talking About?

Representatives of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have harshly criticized Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mash'al for his latest speech,[1] claiming that his demands were not realistic, that he had neither money nor weapons, that his allies had abandoned him, and that in light of the destruction currently being wreaked in Gaza, his claim to victory was unacceptable. They alleged that Mash'al wanted to drag the residents of the West Bank into opening a new front, and that Hamas commanders had gone into hiding instead of leading the battle. They further claimed that Mash'al was ready to sacrifice people's lives in order to safeguard the opening of the crossings, to establish an Emirate in Gaza, and to uphold the anti-Palestinian Authority coup there.

Following are excerpts from some of the articles on this issue:

We Must Hope that Some in Gaza Are More Reasonable, Realistic, and Responsible

Ahmad 'Abd Al-Rahman, Fatah spokesman and advisor to PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, called Mash'al's statements unrealistic: "Khaled Mash'al speaks as if Hamas' tanks surrounded Tel Aviv. It seems that he does not know Gaza and has never been there. He says that Israel has suffered a crushing defeat in Gaza, and does not seem to realize that Israel… has destroyed everything [there]."

Al-Rahman also expressed hope that some of those who are currently suffering under Israel's attacks in Gaza are reasonable people, who view the situation more realistically and whose position is more responsible than Mash'al's.[2]

West Bank Residents Cannot Answer Mash'al's Call to Open Another Front

'Adli Sadeq, PA Foreign Ministry senior official and columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, criticized Hamas members for calling on West Bank residents to open a new front with Israel. He stated: "They assign no importance to the implications of such a war – if we can launch it at all. [True,] the West Bank residents can carry out popular resistance against the wall, against the checkposts, and against the aggression in Gaza. But since the second Intifada, which Fatah carried out to the fullest extent of its capabilities, and during which some of its people lost their lives and others were arrested, it has not been able to light a single fuse, [and if it does,] the fire burns us [all].

"Our friend Mash'al has been calling to start [a fire], but has failed to supply the medicine for the burns [that this will cause]; neither has he brought salvation or victory. This is an error in thinking, and whoever makes it will be punished for his actions."[3]

Gaza Residents Suffer While Hamas Commanders Hide in Tunnels

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist 'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghul, who is also advisor to President 'Abbas, also criticized Mash'al. In response to Mash'al's call to Gaza residents to stand firm, he wrote: "[Mash'al] does not take into account the interests of the [Gaza] residents, who are being sacrificed, while the commanders, who have abandoned the fighting, hide in the tunnels they prepared in advance – although they should be courageously leading the fighters in battle."

Referring to Mash'al's statement that the resistance is still alive and that it has not been defeated, Al-Ghul wrote: "Where is the victory that Mash'al is speaking about, allegedly from the battlefield. Can [Israel's] renewed occupation of Gaza, its division, and the destruction of its infrastructure and its residents' homes [be considered victory]? Can the [fact that] thousands of Palestinians have been killed or wounded, as opposed to [only a few] dozen occupying Israeli soldiers [be considered victory]?..."

The Hamas Elites Enjoin the Fighters to Sacrifice Themselves – For the Opening of the Rafah Crossing

Ghul went on to say: "Fortitude is a stance that has been imposed on our people. The residents of the Gaza districts have no choice but to stand firm and hold their heads high in the face of the indiscriminate and lethal Israeli destruction – because the leadership that was forced on them has been abusing the civilians and the Fatah fighters through the war…

"Hamas wants the Rafah crossing open, irrespective of the cost that this would entail in terms of Palestinian lives. It wants the Emirate [to be established] and to fly a green flag, at the cost of Palestinian blood – although it has made vague allusions that it is willing to talk to the Palestinian leadership."

Referring to Mash'al's calling all international forces that have been deployed in Gaza "occupying forces," Al-Ghul wrote: "Mash'al has forgotten that the [deployment] of international troops as an emergency [measure] spells the end of the Emirate and of the [Hamas's] coup against the PA's legitimacy. Mash'al has demanded that the Israeli aggression stop, that the siege be lifted, that the crossings be opened, and that the agreement on the [Rafah] crossing be amended, so that Hamas [can control it]; however, it has failed to explain to the international community how it is planning to put an immediate end to the Israeli aggression, or how it will ensure that the above-listed demands are fulfilled.

"Isn't it the balance of forces that will determine the outcome of the [current military] campaign? How does the [current] balance of forces enable [Hamas] to achieve its goals? Will Egypt accept Hamas's logic? Will the U.S., Israel, and Europe – [and in particular] France – accept Hamas's position? Do Mash'al or his allies, who have sold him out… have a secret weapon that they can use to achieve these goals?"[4]

PA Broadcasting Authority director Basem Abu Sumaya wrote: "During the Israeli Gaza offensive, I have learned several new facts about Hamas and its leaders, who are dispersed throughout the Arab capitals, from Damascus to Doha… as well as about the local leaders, who disappeared, for security reasons, on the first day of the fighting, and who have since communicated with us only through recordings that they made while in hiding.

"Fact No. 1 – Hamas is a movement that is anchored in principle, and it will not retreat from its positions even if all the Palestinians lose their heads – which is what is happening now.

"Fact No. 2 – Hamas has adhered to the positions of its senior leadership, i.e. Majlis Al-Shura, whose composition… does not equally represent [Hamas members outside the P.A.], those in Gaza, and those in the West Bank.

"If the elites say to the fighters: 'You must die for the sake of a crossing, or even of a tunnel,' they will follow the order without delay… Whoever is in charge of the crossings has control over the pulpits and the people; [besides,] he is in a position to manage government affairs, tax collection, smuggling, and trade. The control of a [single] crossing renders thousands of tunnels unnecessary.

"Hamas does not care if a destructive war is waged against Gaza – such as the one that is going on today. For Hamas, realizing an historic vision for which it has been yearning over many years justifies a heavy toll – as long as what is gained is a land crossing that will enable Hamas members to [transport] the goods and money that they have been hiding. It sees a crossing as the only opening to the outside world, as an umbilical cord [connecting it with the world]…

"Khaled Mash'al's latest statement regarding Hamas's willingness to cooperate with the PA and the Europeans in controlling the [Rafah] crossing is nothing but a tactical device. The PA will very quickly find itself expelled from the crossing, and before long, the European monitors will flee as well, just as it happened during the coup."[5]

Iran and Hizbullah Will Not Come to Hamas's Aid

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Nabil 'Amer wrote: "Where will Mash'al get the money and weapons to overcome the Israeli army? Let it show us his partners, who are [supposed to be] standing by his side in this ordeal, after Iranian fighters were forbidden to leave their country and after all Lebanese elements hastened to shed all responsibility for the missiles fired at Israel from South Lebanon."[6]

Endnotes:

[1] In the speech, Mash'al stated that Hamas would not agree to a long-term calm, since this would deprive the Palestinian people of the right to resist. He objected to the deployment of an international force in Gaza, on the grounds that it would serve to safeguard Israel's security and suppress the resistance. As for the Rafah crossing, Mash'al demanded that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas declare to the world that on this issue, he sought to reach an agreement with Hamas, with the help of Egypt and Europe. Mash'al added that Israel had failed to accomplish any of its goals in its Gaza offensive, and that it had provoked the resistance in every Gaza household. www.palestine-info.info, January 10, 2009.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (P.A.), January 12, 2009.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (P.A.), January 12, 2009.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (P.A.), January 12, 2009.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (P.A.), January 12, 2009.

[6] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), January 12, 2009.