By Nick Clark
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Will Hamas repeat Fatah’s mistakes by ceding ground to Israel?

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Issue 2554
The word Hamas sprayed on a wall
The word “Hamas” sprayed on a wall (Pic: Wikimedia Commons/Soman)

It’s nearly 50 years since Israel occupied Palestine’s West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. But Palestinian leaders seem further away than ever from getting Israel to leave.

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas showered Donald Trump with flattery at a meeting earlier this month. Trump offered nothing except “mediation” in possible future negotiations.

But years of negotiations have brought only humiliation for the PA.

The “peace process” was never about giving Palestinians their freedom, but cementing US and Israeli control.

Abbas’s party Fatah was promised a Palestinian state in an agreement signed with Israel in 1993. In return it had to agree to end and repress the Palestinian resistance.

Israel has no intention of ever allowing a Palestinian state, but has used the peace process to steal even more Palestinian land through settlement building.

Now, more than 20 years after signing the deal, Fatah is in crisis and Abbas is hugely unpopular. He has also attacked Fatah’s main rival Hamas, which governs Gaza.

That’s because unlike Fatah, Hamas had refused to sign up to the concessions demanded by peace process.

But now there are signs that Hamas’ position is weakening. Earlier this month Hamas leaders launched a new document of “General Principles and Policies”.

Hamas rightly abandoned the antisemitic rhetoric of its founding charter. It stuck to the key demands for the right of Palestinian refugees to return and a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

Yet despite formally refusing to recognise the Israeli state, Hamas accepted the possibility of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.

Agreeing to such a “two-state” solution means accepting that Israel has a right to the Palestinian land it seized at its founding in 1948.


It also means signing up to a deal that in practice would leave Palestine dominated by Israel. Hamas faces the same problems as Fatah before it.

Israel has one the world’s most powerful militaries because it has always been backed by Western imperialism.

Any fight against Israel that doesn’t also take on imperialism across the Middle East can only get so far.

Ten years of siege have taken their toll on Hamas and the defeat of the Egyptian Revolution and Arab Spring of 2011 has left it isolated.

But the Egyptian Revolution still points to an alternative. At its height, ordinary Egyptians forced their government to alleviate Gaza’s siege.

Those revolutions also raised the prospect of unity and renewed struggle against Israel among Palestinians.

Palestinians in the West Bank still resist the occupation. There is currently a hunger strike of more than 1,000 Palestinians locked in Israeli prisons.

Large demonstrations and strikes have clashed with Israeli forces.

Much of this was called by the Fatah leadership seeking to maintain its own control.

But the struggle on the ground involves many Palestinians outside of Fatah’s ranks—and has the possibility of bursting out into a revolt beyond Fatah’s control.

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