MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
This week at MidEastWeb, Mohamed Mosaad comments on the Egyptian-sponsored meeting of Palestinian groups at http://www.mideastweb.org/meeting.htm
07:04 10/02/2003 Last update - 09:19 10/02/2003
"the Hamas is certain the Israeli side won't stick to its commitment not to harm civilians, and that will always be its excuse to renew attacks on the grounds of `self-defense.'
Of course, if no violations occur, they can be provoked.
By Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondent
The willingness expressed by Hamas to stop its attacks inside Israel is no more than a "temporary tactic," according to a memo prepared by top officials in the Palestinian Authority security services. The document aims to analyze the Hamas's real motives in the Cairo talks on attaining a cease-fire, scheduled to resume next week, and offers a glimpse into the way the PA currently views the Hamas.
According to the memo, Hamas aspires to replace the Fatah as the dominant political party in the PA, and take over the PLO's institutions, but prefers to do so by peaceful means, rather than through violent clashes with the PA and Fatah.
The introduction to the document says Hamas attacks, and particularly suicide bombings, always have political purposes. That is the explanation for the first suicide bombings, which the document says came as a result of the original Cairo agreement that allowed the PA into the territories. Later, in March 1996, says the document, the Hamas used terrorism to bring the Likud to power and disrupt the Oslo agreements.
According to the document, "the Hamas avoided terror attacks during the Netanyahu administration, until he implemented the Hebron agreement and agreed to a further redeployment in the West Bank, and then it initiated the attack on Cafe Apropo in Tel Aviv in 1997."
The document states the Hamas at first regarded the intifada as "a PA affair meant to strengthen its negotiating positions, but when the Hamas understood the intifada was more than a tactical step and the Fatah took it under its wing, the Hamas hurried to take part."
As for Hamas readiness to cease attacks inside Israel, the memo says the Hamas "is selling that merchandise to the Egyptians," who organized the current Cairo talks aimed at reaching a Palestinian cease-fire, "because if it refused Egypt, it would destroy relations with Egypt." The memo says the Hamas will cease its attacks only during the war in Iraq.
In general, the document says, "the Hamas is certain the Israeli side won't stick to its commitment not to harm civilians, and that will always be its excuse to renew attacks on the grounds of `self-defense.'" According to the document's author or authors, the Hamas is ready to accept those conditions, because "it can live with temporarily limiting the arena of conflict to the territories alone."
A major section of the document focuses on Hamas intentions regarding the political arena inside the PA. Last Thursday, Mahmoud a Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, declared the Hamas was ready, "politically, financially and socially, to lead the Palestinian people."
He called for elections to PLO institutions, "in Arab states, the Palestinian diaspora and Gaza." But a few hours later he retracted the statement, saying "the Hamas rejects the possibility of replacing either partially or wholly the PA under the umbrella of the Oslo agreements."
According to the memo, the organization's strategy is to regard itself as "a replacement for the PA, through peaceful means ... all of the Hamas policies under the Oslo period are an expression of that ambition. The Cairo talks are only a tactic for national unity. The Hamas, like the Likud, does not believe in national unity unless it leads it."
What Hamas really wants
According to the PA document analyzing the Hamas, the Islamic group is "the backbone of the Palestinian opposition. That is its strategy, from which it derives the tactic that led it to the Cairo dialogue talks."
According to the authors of the document, the Hamas is seeking several things in the Cairo talks:
l Egyptian recognition, leading to pan-Arab recognition
l European recognition, after the Hamas' bitter experience with the Americans in the days of American-sponsored security coordination during the Netanyahu administration. European agencies conducted a dialogue with the Hamas even before the Cairo talks
l Normalization of relations with the Gulf states. The Hamas has given in to demands from Gulf states, particularly Qatar and Kuwait, for a temporary halt to terror attacks inside Israel. The Hamas leadership resides in Qatar, and its political chief, Khaled Mashal, gets an official welcome whenever he lands in the country, which the document terms "the largest U.S. military base in advance of the assault on Iraq." Kuwait sends most of the funding to Hamas, and both countries pressured the Hamas to avoid embarrassing the Americans by attacking Israel during the Iraq war.
l A piece of the PLO - according to the document, one of the main political goals of the Hamas is to win a piece of the PLO, "equal to the Fatah. The Hamas estimates its strength in the territories as equal to the Fatah's," says the memo. "The Hamas brought in the esoteric groups like A Saika and Ahmed Jibril to the talks, to create the impression that the opposition has a majority over Fatah inside the PLO."
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