August 4, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5816

Fatah Member And Pundit Hafez Al-Barghouti: The Palestinians Should Have Gone To Cairo Sooner; It Is Hamas' Military Wing, Influenced By Iran, That Takes Decisions In The Movement

August 4, 2014
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5816

Fatah member Hafez Al-Barghouti, the former editor of the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote in this daily on August 5, 2014 that the Palestinians should have gone to Cairo sooner for negotiations on the Egyptian initiative in order to stop the fighting in Gaza, instead of busying themselves with inter-Arab politics. He stated that today, having withdrawn its troops from Gaza, Israel is in a convenient position in the negotiations, and therefore it is trying to impose its own terms while refusing the Palestinians' terms. He also stressed that, in the course of the war, it emerged that Hamas' military wing, rather than the political wing, was the one making decisions in the movement, and that Iran may be the only element with any influence over this military wing, not Qatar or Turkey.

Al-Barghouti called on the Arab countries and the leaders of the Palestinian factions to give priority to ending the Israeli aggression against Gaza and to refrain from encouraging false celebrations of victory, because Gaza is unwilling to suffer death and destruction without limit.

The following is a translation of the article:

Hafez Al-Barghouti

"I think we arrived in Cairo late. The [Palestinian] factions should have found their way to Cairo weeks ago, not now. Egypt remains [the country on] Gaza's Western border; Gaza shares no borders with Turkey or Qatar. The decision whether or not to go to Cairo would not have been delayed had we been interested, from the start, in ending the violence and realizing our demands, not in the sparring of the superpowers, in scenes of censure and condemnation [against Israel], and in a media polemic that obscures [Israel's] murderous aggression in Gaza.

'The Hamas [political] leadership placed the decision to cease fire in the hands of the Hamas military command in the field, while [Islamic] Jihad took a moderate position based on more cautious Palestinian principles. In practice, it emerged that decision-making in Hamas is the exclusive prerogative of its [military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades, and that the political leadership has only limited influence upon it. The Al-Qassam Brigades have [their own] direct alliances with external [elements] and their own military academies. It is possible that Iran has not cut its ties with Hamas' military wing and continues to back it financially, despite its [Iran's] bad relations with [Hamas'] political wing. This means that Iran alone has influence over the Al-Qassam Brigades, not Qatar or Turkey, which tried to play a role in extinguishing [the flames in the region] and to drag their feet in order to embarrass Egypt, nothing more.

"It seems that the occupation [i.e., Israel] is now in a convenient position, having removed its troops from the ground, and it is trying to dictate the terms [of the ceasefire] and avoid accepting Gaza's terms. This marks the beginning of a new political struggle, which I fear will serve as a cover for further aggression, shelling and massacres [by Israel].

"Priority must be given to ending the aggression and the acts of massacre, before anything else. Whoever thinks Gaza is eager to continue suffering destruction and killing without limit is blind, and whoever refrains from acting to stop the aggression is arrogant. Gaza presented its people and its resistance as emblems of bravery, daring and steadfastness that would break the power of the invading [Israeli] ground forces; however, Gaza has no strategic depth, and, with the siege continuing, it cannot bring in supplies or reinforcements. Do we leave it this way and hold aloft the banners of victory? [I say to all the] leaders of the [Arab] capitals and factions: let us at least keep those who are celebrating [Gaza's] victory alive."

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