In an article posted on the Hamas website Palestine Online, Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad bemoaned the grim situation of the Palestinians on both the international and domestic fronts, describing them as being mired between the exhausting and futile negotiations with Israel on the one hand and the deep internal schism they cannot overcome on the other. He spared no criticism for the leaderships of the PA, Fatah and Hamas, as well as of the other resistance movements, holding them responsible for the Palestinian failure.
Hamad said that the Palestinians are unable to "formulate a strategic perception befitting the complexity of the current conflict with the occupation," and are also unable to admit their mistakes and rethink their course. He contrasted their feebleness with the effectiveness of the "Zionist plan," which, he said, has made many achievements in "settlements, Judaization, land grabs, sieges, and dissolving the negotiations."
He added that the Palestinians have "a big problem that requires big leaders, big decisions, and big achievements," and thus need a courageous leadership that will transcend narrow interests and "follow the correct national path – the path on which all popular groups will follow."
Regarding the inter-Palestinian schism, he stressed that the Palestinians have no hope of bettering their situation as long as they remain divided, and that there is no excuse to delay the reconciliation any longer. Stating that the Palestinian leadership's arrogance is perpetuating the schism and is bound to lead the Palestinian people to perdition, he called on Fatah to "take steps to alleviate the tense atmosphere that exists in the West Bank," and on Hamas to overcome its hesitations and fears and agree to a reconciliation, for "the benefits of reconciliation outweigh [Hamas'] doubts and worries several times over."
It should be noted that this is not the first time that Ghazi Hamad has published articles critical of his movement, Hamas. In 2006 he criticized it for the firing of rockets at Israel, an article which enraged the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and caused Hamad's suspension from the Hamas administration in Gaza. Later he was reinstated and held several positions, and was even involved in the deal to exchange the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for Hamas prisoners.
The following are excerpts from the article.
Ghazi Hamad (image: felesteen.ps)
"Can The Palestinians Continue... Without A Captain, Without A Horizon?"
"Where is the Palestinian ship sailing, and where will it find a haven? Where do the Palestinians stand now? What future awaits them so long as they are mired in a complex struggle with the occupation and a deep internal schism? What have the Palestinians achieved after breaking records in sacrifice, heroism, steadfastness, and political activity? Where do they stand between reality and fantasy? How far are they from the goals for which they have striven? How many years separate them from [reaching] the stage of happiness, or will the stage of [facing] bitter reality [come] first?
"What will those who wander between exhausting and 'crooked' negotiations and a devastating internal schism do? They wait, try, expect, compete with each other, weaken themselves, [and] complain!! And what results has this flowery rhetoric achieved? There are many questions and few answers. It is hard to deal with our own [internal] reality while we try to stumble through a long tunnel of negotiations that have become a daily burden yielding nothing but false promises, and through a long tunnel of internal schism hat leads only to frustration, despair, and hopelessness.
"Everyone is waiting, wondering, analyzing: Will the negotiations be extended (despite the recognition of their failure)? Will reconciliation come one day, or will the schism lead us to dark places? Will there be relief or will the anguish continue? Will there be an attack on Gaza? How will the situation develop in Egypt? How will the siege of Gaza end? We ask ourselves many questions but cannot provide answers!!
"When this matter ends with the negotiations at an impasse, the resistance hobbled by reality and political circumstances, and the reconciliation indefinitely suspended, we will ask ourselves: What must we do? What alternatives do we have? Which direction should we go? Do we need a political genius to tell us how to occupy our time?
"The options aren't clear and there are many crossroads ahead [that lead us on paths] ranging from anger and bitterness to anticipation and hope but lacking in results, and despite this we insist on shutting our eyes and walking on the same path until our backs are to the wall.
"Can the Palestinian situation remain this way: unclear, without road signs, without a captain, without a horizon? Can we continue to be hostages of a stubborn Israeli position or a deceptive American one? Can the Palestinian people continue to be a hostage of a devastating internal schism that has made its life hell? Can we continue to be hostages of unilateral options that are far from receiving national consensus...?
"The Palestinians committed a grand crime against themselves, against the homeland, and against [the Palestinian] cause when they burned the bridges of trust amongst themselves and wasted many years on 'crooked' disagreements and unsafe paths. [They] squeezed themselves into narrow passageways, weakened their own abilities, and squandered their efforts and the efforts of the Arabs around them to the point that the question on everyone's lips was: 'Where are matters headed?'"
The Palestinians Are Unable To Formulate A Strategy Befitting The Complexity Of The Conflict
"What is it that compels the Palestinians to repeatedly choose in advance the impossible alternatives or a situation where their backs are to the wall? What prevents them from thinking ahead and planning [their moves] one kilometer or ten or twenty before they reach the wall? What prevents them from thinking outside the box...?
"The experience of [John] Kerry and his political adventure are an example of [all this]: We wasted nine months that produced a false pregnancy. After each failure we return to speaking of alternatives [to the negotiations]. Then they pressure us to return to the [negotiation] table and we try again with a new envoy in order to achieve a new failure. Then we return to speaking about alternatives, [and so on] – a 22-year cycle!! Is this not a farce?!
"These troubling questions reveal the political and regime weakness of the Palestinians, who cannot formulate a strategic perception befitting the complexity of the current conflict with the occupation and the region's grave and unstable political circumstances...
"Observe how they lead us [by the nose] and changed our priorities: the problem [under discussion] has become the negotiations themselves and their source of authority instead of the actual issues. We [also] went from ending settlements to freezing them. [Today] lifting the Gaza siege has become urgent and [providing] the Palestinian Authority [PA] with a financial safety net has become imperative. If we cannot agree on a national plan to unite us and on unity to protect our small home, then what else is left for us to do other than drown ourselves in sweet illusions? ...
"It is hard to live in wait, hard to hold false hopes, and hard to live on the basis of a mistake that you do not understand and do not sense. The Palestinians have dropped the terms 'we were wrong', 'we have failed', and 'now we should stop and reexamine' from their lexicon..."
Policy Should Be Based On Reality, Not Wishful Thinking
"There are those who see everything in pleasant shades of pink, and those who see everything in frustrating black. The truth is that they are both wrong. You cannot deal with complex political issues either with anguish or with wishful thinking... but rather with procedures and rules based on events and life experience regarding [the chances] of victory or defeat...
"Take the issue of negotiations, which is the main concern. Had it been placed on the national 'operating table,' and had the PA listened to public opinion and weighed the matter properly with all sides and discussed alternatives with them, it would have emerged from this cocoon and would have had people to advise and guide it. However, it insists on retaining exclusive rights over the negotiations, keeping [the documents] locked in a steel vault and wrapped in cellophane without anyone being able to read them, and then later expects [other] powerbrokers to support it and stand by it. Fatah wants the exclusive [right] to deal with the issue [of negotiations] – with all its complexities, crises, and challenges – but this is beyond its abilities; it is virtually impossible and destined to fail. The other political powerbrokers have contented themselves with observing and objecting, and the result is that Fatah has failed in the negotiations while the other political powerbrokers were unable to thwart them.
"As for the resistance stream – every faction [in it] insists on waging, preparing and running a solo campaign against the occupier, and boasting of its achievements separately from the other [factions]. Each faction wants its war to be named after itself. Can wars with the occupation succeed in this manner?
"Our road is long, arduous, and continues ad nauseum, and it eventually leads to twists, difficulties, bitter results, and a poor harvest. Is the path of negotiations eternal and endless? And is the path of resistance confined [to certain factions] while [others] cannot participate in it? Is there no political umbrella that protects it?
"The Palestinians are very fond of tactics and minute details (in which they drown), just as they love exclusive partisan activity, and they are very distant from grand strategies and long-term plans, very distant from unified national activity, very distant from speaking openly with each other, reexamining their positions, and correcting them. The strange thing is that, after all this, they still boast, give speeches, hold activities, and [chant] slogans, to the point that one could think we were near the gates of Jerusalem.
"A small comparison between our plan – which is unfortunately diffuse – and the Zionist plan so successful at settlements, Judaization, land grabs, sieges, and dissolving of negotiations (based on strategic vision and diligent action) reveals many of the vast differences that force us to face reality and remove us from the cycle of illusions and slogans."
We Have A Big Problem That Requires Big Leaders
"To those who say 'this is self-flagellation!' [or] 'this is a grim picture and a pessimistic view!', I say: let us perform an assessment, a national assessment, and see what we have earned on the national front in [the last] 65 years and how much we have progressed compared to the Zionist enterprise. Had we been more courageous, [we might have asked]: 'Have we deceived and deluded ourselves with minor achievements?'... True, I can see many important and real achievements in terms of resistance and political activity that no one denies, but I [nevertheless] say: 'What I know, and what every Palestinian knows, is that the entire homeland is still occupied, Jerusalem is Judaized and out of our hands, the settlements multiply day by day, our land is being swallowed, the refugees are still displaced, and Israel is still savage, condescending, brutal, and besieging. [At the same time,] our people is torn between two authorities and two governments, our economic situation is unenviable, and the Arab situation around us is shaky. So what achievements and good tidings do you speak of?'
"What illusion came over us and caused us to think we have achieved 'international recognition' and a 'balance of terror' and [caused us to speak of] 'the stage of bloody [warfare]' and [say] 'we attack them, they don't attack us' and that we are close to the moment of liberation!? We have nothing but the feeble [Palestinian] Authority to toy with, negotiations that have occupied nearly a quarter century of our lives, and a schism that we devote enormous efforts to understanding. We go mad with joy when we fire rockets or stop the negotiations or receive a bit of support here and there. All these thing – important though they are – are simple matters that cannot be weighed against the massive national sadness and sorrow.
"We have a big problem that requires big leaders, big decisions, and big achievements! Those who boast of the 'small' achievements prevent themselves from utilizing deep strategic thought and uncovering the great dangers spreading beneath our feet. This is why our cause continues to go in circles, to the point that we jeopardized – and even weakened – the ability of Arabs to do something real by expressing satisfaction with their silence, weakness, and failure, and by flattering them for their 'brave' positions and false historic aid... and cherishing statements by the Arab League, which has been careful to include Palestine in its agenda for the past 50 years.
"Ask yourselves whether the Arab countries have ever given Palestine anything other than money, grants, aid, and the hosting of conferences and symposia, as well as some [official] visits? What did we gain from the [many] visits by President Abu Mazen [around the world], which broke world leader records? How much pressure have Arab countries applied to deal with Israel's arrogance and vanity? What efforts have they devoted to save us from wars, the siege, and the settlements? Which of them has moved even a single stone in a settlement? Which of them has saved a single house in Jerusalem? Which of them has ever stopped one Israeli plan in international circles? They say that this [Palestinian attitude] is [part] of the art of sweet talk, shrewdness, and politics. True! But it should never reach the level of despicable flattery that convinces [the Arabs] that they have done their duty regarding 'their main cause' and that they can make do with observing [from the sidelines] and leave the [Palestinian] problem to the White House in order to rid themselves of the hassle involved in taking a brave stance.
"Some will say that this is the Arabs' problem and not our problem. But I say we are partly responsible, since if we knew how to deal with the Arab situation properly and using strategic thinking, our situation would have been very different, and we could have recruited them for our needs on [both] the financial and the political levels."
We Cannot Reach A Settlement Without National Unity
"How numerous the deadly traps and contradictions in which the Palestinians have entangled themselves[!] They combined the PA with the PLO, [thus] mixing the stage of liberation with the stage of [building] the state; they mixed up ideology and policy, and turned policy and resistance into polar opposites at war with one another; they divided the people between into PA [supporters] and those with a [different] agenda, drowning them in daily problems and quarrels and rejecting reconciliation, even though it is their only lifeline. Then they delude themselves into thinking that the entire [Arab] nation is behind them and that the world is shaken by warnings coming from Gaza or Ramallah.
"How can a reasonable person think that the negotiations and [political] settlement can succeed – whether according to [John] Kerry's plan or some other – without Palestinian political and regime unity, and when 21 years of experience [since the Oslo Accords] have proven [the opposite]? Unless there are those who believe that they can 'land a hit' in a moment of distraction and without national consensus. [Conversely,] what reasonable person thinks that we can carry on the resistance in fits and spurts of intensive [activity], in disregard of political considerations?
"Who is the brave and wise commander who can solve this puzzle, unite the ranks and the diffuse plan, and relieve the frustration? Who is the peerless commander who can come out against the current formula and replace it by [declaring] an emergency? They say our problem is a lack of historic leaders, or a lack of awareness, or a lack of national considerations, or maybe that we are a people suffering numbness who do not know when to emerge from [this state].
"There is a disease called 'antariyya' [bravado], and some say that this disease in politics is akin to cowardice on the battlefield – both are out of place. This chronic disease causes [the sufferer] to be convinced that he is always right, that there is no need to change anything, that victory is at hand, that we need only be patient, that the other is wrong and arrogant and we must wait for him and his plan to fall. These are confused, miserable thoughts based on condescension mixed with delusion, and can only lead to disaster. Due to this bravado we have gone in circles with our plan for decades without [re]evaluating or changing it. Moreover, because of this bravado we have remained divided for eight years that have gnawed at our bones; because of it we have lost the ability to prepare alternatives and have chained ourselves to rigid patterns. Because of it we have sown acres of endless expectation, frustration, despair, and lack of faith in the future in the hearts of thousands of our people – who are our equipment and ammunition.
"What we need is simple, but to achieve it requires courage and abandoning fear and hesitation. We do not need the many analyses and the brilliant political studies we read in the papers; we want a brave and decisive leadership that can bang on the table; [a leadership] with courage, awareness, and national sensitivity that move it to break the silence and vagueness and transcend all its calculations, fears, frustrations, and narrow interests, and make the decision to follow the correct national path – the path on which all sectors of the people will follow. We do not want to be [separated] into tribes like the Israelites."
There Is No Excuse To Delay The Reconciliation; Hamas Will Benefit From It
"[The story of the reconciliation is] a sad and sorrowful story, a tedious play, a cause for both tears and laughter. We have built many dreams on it, as well as the future of our little [children], but it has become nothing more than 'news items' and a way station.
"What options do the Palestinians have in this state of schism? We used to hear the echoing slogan: 'All options are open.' Someone give me a list of these options so we can choose [one] while we sit comfortably on the beach with our legs crossed drinking coffee.
"Reconciliation cannot be based on fear and worry; otherwise it will forever remain sickly and emaciated.
"Hamas should immediately abandon its fears and hesitations and agree to reconciliation bravely and courageously, because the benefits of reconciliation outweigh [Hamas'] doubts and worries several times over.
"Fatah should take steps to alleviate the tense atmosphere that has grown in the West Bank.
"There is no excuse to delay the reconciliation even one hour! If Hamas claims that Abu Mazen is subject to pressure due to the lack of reconciliation, let it help him be free of it, put him to the test of implementation, and move him from the rubric of negotiations to that of reconciliation.
"If division is a mark of shame, then let us eradicate it... [instead of] bequeathing it to following generations."
 Felesteen.ps, April 6, 2014.