The Palestinian division.. How did the conflict between Fatah and Hamas erupt?

Despite the evidence indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood was the incubator for the emergence of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement “Fatah” in the 1950s, what is certain is that the approach of “Fatah” quickly diverged from that of the Islamic Group, leading to a power struggle with the Brotherhood’s internal arm. Palestinian, Hamas movement.

The Palestinian issue is suffering from a situation that may be the most difficult in its history in light of the war that Israel has launched on the Gaza Strip since last October.

This war had a great impact on the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, issued a decision assigning the economist, Muhammad Mustafa, to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh.

Hamas criticized the move, and considered it “empty of substance.” Fatah movement, headed by Abbas, responded with a statement that sparked controversy in the Palestinian arena, especially since it accused Hamas of causing the reoccupation of Gaza.

What are the dimensions of the conflict between Fatah and Hamas over the past years? What is the extent of its impact on the course of the Palestinian issue?

The Palestinian leadership has been divided since the armed confrontations that took place between the Fatah and Hamas movements in the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Opposing Arafat’s approach

Historian Abdel Qader Yassin mentions in his book “Fatah and Hamas: A Cockfight or a Clash of Approaches?”, that the announcement of the founding of Hamas in 1988, and the rise of its influence in the following years, represented a major problem for the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the leader of the Fatah movement at the time, Yasser Arafat, who signed A historic agreement under which Israel is recognized, in exchange for the latter’s recognition of the Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Arafat had to abandon the “armed struggle” approach against Israel, and change clauses in the Palestinian National Charter related to this doctrine that governed the path of the Palestinian factions affiliated with the organization.

The late Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shake hands after signing the Oslo Accords under the auspices of former US President Bill Clinton – Archive

The man returned to Palestine to assume the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, which was established in the form of self-rule that paves the way for an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, after five years of negotiations with Israel, which has not happened yet.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions announced their rejection of any peace agreement that abolishes the right to claim “historic Palestine,” and insisted on continuing military action against Israel, which led them to a direct clash with Fatah, which is engaged through Arafat in complex peace talks with Israel.

According to the book “Son of Hamas”, Musab Hassan Youssef, a number of Hamas leaders considered that the success of this agreement would eliminate their faction, which considers resistance the only justification for its presence in Palestine, so it carried out several military operations against Israeli civilians and military personnel a few weeks after the signing of the Oslo Accords in an attempt To fail him.

A citizen of Gaza passes in front of a wall with the word “division” written on it surrounded by a number of the consequences it has had on Palestinian society

Musab Hassan Youssef is the son of the leader of the Hamas movement, Hassan Youssef. And it was Musab He revealed in his book “Son of Hamas” that the process With the Israeli security service, the Shin Bet, he left Islam and fled Palestine to become one of the most prominent faces attacking Hamas in the American media, while his family announced their disavowal of him.

Through meetings and negotiations with Hamas leaders, Arafat tried to reach an understanding formula that somehow supported the negotiation option, which was rejected.

The Palestinian Authority used arrests of Hamas members as a means of alleviating Israeli anger at the attacks carried out by the movement, and Hamas politicians and soldiers were subjected to torture in prisons.

However, despite this, the links between Arafat and the movement’s senior leaders, especially its founder Ahmed Yassin, remained close, and at a level of coordination that ensured that the situation did not explode.

More than a million Palestinians are displaced in the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip

In September 1994, Israel assassinated Hani Abed, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement. When Arafat tried to participate in the prayer for him, Islamic activists attacked him, because the authority’s security services had previously arrested Abed in its prisons, a few months before his death. Here Arafat was forced to withdraw from the mosque quickly due to the massive attack on him by the worshipers.

Days after this incident, a bloody clash took place between the Palestinian security services and pro-Hamas demonstrators in Gaza City, killing 12 people and wounding hundreds of others in what became known as the “Palestine Mosque Massacre” in the center of the city. This fighting was followed by a massive arrest operation against the leaders of the Islamic factions.

On November 4, 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the peace process, who shook hands with Arafat, in a historic moment, was assassinated in the White House after the signing of the peace agreement.

According to Musab Youssef, after Rabin’s assassination, Arafat asked Hamas leaders not to hold celebrations celebrating his death, because he was convinced that Rabin had a clear vision for achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Widespread destruction in large parts of the Gaza Strip due to the war that has been going on for months

When the first elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996, Hamas boycotted them because of its rejection of the legal basis from which this entitlement was based, which was the Oslo Accords. In February 1996, the dispute between Hamas and the Authority deepened after the latter carried out a massive arrest operation against a large number of its cadres, including a number of leaders such as Mahmoud Al-Zahar, Ahmed Bahr, and Ibrahim Al-Maqadma, as Hamas announced at the time.

Contributing to the complexity of the Palestinian situation was the election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli Prime Minister in 1996, who adopted an agenda opposing the Oslo Accords.

Ehud Barak won the Israeli elections in 1999, and led negotiations with the Palestinians under American sponsorship, known as the Camp David negotiations.

Former US President Bill Clinton hosted those negotiations at the famous Camp David resort, from July 11 to 25, 2000. Hamas announced its opposition to those negotiations and demanded that Arafat withdraw.

Clinton pressured Arafat and Barak to reach a historic agreement before he left his position in the White House, but he failed.

Albright and Arafat in a telephone call with US President Bill Clinton in 1999

Arafat returned to Ramallah, and the people welcomed him, carrying him on their shoulders because he refused to sign an agreement that he considered unfair to the Palestinians.

In light of the complexity of the political situation and the difficulty of reaching a solution to the Palestinian issue, Arafat resorted to the Hamas card, loosened the grip of his security services on it, released its leaders from prisons, and allowed them freedom of movement to help ignite an uprising, according to Musab in his book.

On September 27, 2000, Ariel Sharon carried out his famous visit to the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and at that time he was a member of the Knesset for Likud, after obtaining approval from Prime Minister Barak. The Palestinian territories erupted in demonstrations and violent confrontations at points of contact with the Israeli army in the West Bank, in protest against the visit.

This tension prompted Barak to announce early elections in 2001, in which he was unable to win against Sharon, who formed a government and led a military operation in the West Bank known as “Defensive Shield,” which was launched in March 2002, with the aim of suppressing the second Palestinian Intifada, which was known as At that time, it was called the “Al-Aqsa Intifada.”

Mahmoud Abbas, president

Following the siege imposed by Sharon on Arafat at his residence, the latter’s health deteriorated, and he died in a French hospital in November 2004.

Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, in elections boycotted by Hamas, and Abbas won 66 percent of the vote.

This year witnessed a new change in the Palestinian arena, after Israel’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas showed some retreat from its previous positions regarding the political process in Palestine, and some positions began to show that the movement does not object to any agreement to establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, but without recognizing Israel. The movement decided to enter the legislative elections in 2006, after years of boycotting them.

Hamas achieved a landslide victory in these elections, after winning 74 seats out of 132 in the Legislative Council, compared to only 45 seats for the Fatah movement.

According to the results of the elections, Abbas assigned the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, to form a new government, which was boycotted by the Fatah movement and the international community, and was unable to perform its duties, thus sparking the bloody confrontation between the two factions in Gaza.

Iran provided technical training to Hamas members to manufacture explosives (archive)

According to the book “Fatah and Hamas: From Resistance to the Occupation to the Struggle for Power” by Muhammad Younis Hashem, assigning Hamas to head the Palestinian government presented many problems that the state knew at the time, the simplest of which was the duplication of work between the presidential institution, which possesses many powers and sympathizes with the official security services, and the The new government adopts a completely different internal and external agenda. The government has also been exposed to huge challenges, the most important of which is the decision of Israel and the European Union to withhold funds from it.

In September 2006, a large number of public sector employees went on strike due to the government’s inability to provide salaries.

Hashem adds: “Hamas felt that it had lost everything. It does not have executive power, economic resources, or security services, and it became besieged internally by the presidential authority and its security services.”

Disagreements quickly accumulated between the two parties. During 2006, Gaza experienced a major security chaos due to the intense competition between Fatah and Hamas, which resulted in 188 deaths and 656 injuries, according to Yassin.

An ambulance transports the bodies of the three men executed by Hamas, accompanied by a police car

Here, the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons took the initiative to announce what was known as the “Prisoners’ Document” that sought to heal the rift. Although the two parties announced their agreement regarding it, the implementation of the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the subsequent Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip brought the negotiations to the zero point due to the condemnation of Abbas declared the Hamas operation public.

In December, Abbas delivered a speech explaining the dramatic state of affairs, saying, “The situation is getting worse. The government cannot meet, the Legislative Council cannot meet, and all security services are dysfunctional.”

In the same month, Haniyeh ended his first foreign tour as prime minister, and while he was entering the Gaza Strip through the crossing, clashes took place between official security services and Hamas militants, resulting in dozens of them being injured and the crossing being subjected to major damage.

According to what the political analyst, George Gageman, mentioned in his paper “Hamas and Fatah: A struggle for programs or a struggle for power,” Abbas began since October to think about more radical options such as dissolving the Legislative Council and holding new elections, an option that was supported by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak at the time. .

Abbas did not take this step because the Palestinian Basic Law did not contain any article granting the president the right to dissolve the elected council and his fear that it would lead to further division.

With the escalation of tension between the two parties, Saudi Arabia sponsored a consensus meeting between the Palestinian factions that ended with the signing of the “Mecca Agreement” at the beginning of 2007.

This step did not lead to any results, and skirmishes continued between the two poles in the Gaza Strip despite the signing of more than 10 truce agreements sponsored by Egyptian security, which lasted only a few hours. As of May, approximately 234 people were killed and 1,290 wounded in the Gaza Strip, and President Abbas even accused Hamas of planning He was assassinated during his visit to the Gaza Strip.

The situation explodes

In June 2007, the situation exploded completely and ended with Hamas taking absolute control of the Gaza Strip after bloody clashes that resulted in the killing of 161 people, the wounding of 700 others, and the flight of most of the leaders of the Palestinian services outside the Gaza Strip towards the West Bank, according to the statistics that Yassin documented in his book.

Due to these events, Abbas announced the dismissal of Haniyeh’s government and the cancellation of any rounds of dialogue that were scheduled to be held between Fatah and Hamas.

In Abbas’s first comment on what happened in the Gaza Strip, during a speech he delivered at the opening of the session of the Central Council of the PLO, he said: “This is not a conflict between Fatah and Hamas. It is a conflict between the national project and the militia project, between those who resort to assassinations and executions and those who resort to rules.” the law”.

After the confrontations in Gaza ended in favor of Hamas, the Islamic movement maintained absolute control over the Strip, which had been subject to an Israeli siege for more than 15 years.

During this period, Israel carried out more than one war on the Gaza Strip, before the October 7 attack, which was carried out by Hamas and led to the killing of about 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians, according to the Israeli authorities.

Part of the signing ceremony of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas last month

In response to the attack, Netanyahu’s government announced the launch of a bloody war, which has so far resulted in the killing of more than 30,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are civilians, women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in the Strip.

Israeli aircraft destroyed homes and infrastructure, Israeli tanks invaded the north and center of the Gaza Strip, and the majority of Palestinian civilians were displaced to Rafah in the south, amid difficult humanitarian conditions.

In light of the war, the large number of deaths among Palestinians, and the massive destruction to which the Gaza Strip was exposed as a result of the Israeli war, Palestinian voices rose calling for unity and an end to the division between Fatah and Hamas.

Although the two sides avoided political disputes in the first months of the war, the decision to form a new government reignited the verbal confrontation between the two factions, when Hamas considered it “a step empty of substance and deepening the division.” Fatah responded, holding Hamas responsible for what it described as “the occurrence of the Nakba that occurred.” The Palestinian people are experiencing it, especially in the Gaza Strip,” in reference to the ongoing war there.

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