Saturday, November 14, 2009

West Bank Hamas

Omran Risheq addresses and important question: what is Hamas up to in the West Bank?
"Sources inside Hamas say that the movement has frozen its activities, in line with a 1989 strategy delineating how the movement should handle crises. Hamas followed this course in 1992, for example, when Israel exiled 416 activists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to southern Lebanon following the kidnapping and murder of Israeli border patrol soldier Nassim Tolidano. Hamas is not ready, according to one of its leaders, to mobilize supporters behind a coherent course of action for fear of exposing them to arrest by the PA or Israel. Hamas also is reluctant to cause its followers to lose their jobs, given that 1200 of them have already been laid off from government jobs in the West Bank.

"This damage control strategy is due partly to Hamas’s belief that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—unlike his predecessor Yasser Arafat--would not hesitate to destroy the group if it became too much of a nuisance to him. Arafat, on the other hand, was more careful in his dealings with Hamas for two reasons: he feared being seen as an agent of the Israeli occupation if he confronted Hamas forcefully; and he used Hamas as a card to boost his negotiating position with Israel, portraying himself as the only one capable of containing the group.

"Hamas has also gone to ground on the West Bank because it is convinced that the current situation will eventually redound to its benefit, especially given Abbas's inability to begin serious peace talks with Israel. U.S. President Barack Obama's failure to exercise pressure on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank has left Abbas in despair, leading him to announce that he will not run for reelection in the upcoming presidential elections."



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