Analysis: Unity Agreement Dividing Hamas
Internal dissension in the Hamas ranks is on the rise as its political leaders try to realign the movement with Fatah.
Analysts note Hamas leaders in the Gaza terror enclave for the past five years and international Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal are at an impasse over the movement's future direction.
"I believe this reconciliation agreement will tear Hamas apart," Samir Awad, a political science professor at Birzeit University in Samaria, told Gulf News.
"This agreement will not succeed, because Khalid Meshaal and Hamas' political office abroad want to pay a certain price for unity with Fatah and the PLO. But this price is unacceptable for Gaza."
Analysts say Meshaal, from Samaria, is gambling on persuading a majority of Hamas leaders to back him in an internal vote due in March.
However, the leader-in-exile has become the head of an itinerate and presently decentralized politburo in search of a new home after quitting Syria amid the unrest that is rocking the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
At the same time, Ismail Haniyeh has had five years to build up a centralized political base in Gaza and has embarked on a barnstorming tour of Muslim countries to drum up economic and political support for his regime outside politburo channels.
The division between Hamas leaders in Gaza and abroad became distinct when Meshaal reversed a decision not to stand for re-election to his post after learning Haniyeh rather than another politburo member was the likely front-runner to replace him.
Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also ostensibly banking on Meshaal. Abbas and Meshaal signed a deal in Qatar on Monday to form a unity government tasked with preparing long-overdue elections later this year.
Abbas appears to believe he has a better chance of making peace with Hamas than he does of signing a treaty with Israel. Teaming up with Hamas, shunned by Israel and the West for its genocidal terror agenda, would stop the peace process in its tracks.
Abbas, 76, has no desire to destroy his popular legacy by making peace with Israel at a cost he has made no effort to prepare his people to pay.
However, factional unity could equally open the door to Hamas dominance over PA politics, as Islamists rise to power elsewhere in elections following the Arab Spring. That has left many analysts wondering why Abbas would seek unity with Hamas at all.
Some analysts say Abbas cannot be unaware that the concessions Hamas would have to make to realign itself with Fatah - and even remotely appear to meet the conditions set by Western donors - would create controversy in the already fractious Hamas ranks.
That could lead to a Hamas schism that might split the movement ahead of PA elections, which favors Fatah. Even if Hamas remains intact, it would likely split the Hamas vote – which would also benefit Fatah.
In the short term, that benefits Israel whose leaders have been slow to absorb that the rising tide of uncompromising unilateralism in the PLO means their is no peace to be made.