Dr. Salem Al Ketbi
Dr. Salem Al KetbiCourtesy

I have read numerous media reports recently about the worsening differences between Hamas leaders. Indeed, the differences have come to light, at least according to The Times, which reported on the dispute between two wings within Hamas in an article by Anshel Pfeffer.

One wing is led by Ismail Haniyeh, who wants to turn the movement into a military agent of Iran, like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, while the other wing, led by Khaled Mashaal, wants to restore the movement’s ties with Arab countries. The divisions within Hamas have long been public knowledge. The positions of Haniyeh and Mashaal are known to all observers of Palestinian Arab affairs.

There is nothing new at this level. But it is strange how the experiences of Hezbollah, Al Houthi militia and others impress those who supposedly seek a Palestinian Arab state and a final solution for a cause that has no need to repeat failed experiences.

It is odd that those who want to build a state can follow the example of those who successfully destroyed an existing state or doomed their state to failure and collapse. The problem of Mashaal and Haniyeh is not only the trade-off between depending on Iran and sticking to the natural Arab fold.

It is the narrow, one-sided view of violence and terrorism as an effective means of asserting the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. It is true that history is full of experiences in which some liberation movements succeeded in gaining their independence and achieving their goals by force of arms.

However, it must be recognized that international circumstances have changed or that there are strategic contexts that do not support the option of armed resistance as the only alternative to achieve the rights of various peoples. The Palestinian Arab cause's realization, at least for me, will probably not go through Tehran.

it will not go through Tehran, nor through Haniyeh’s participation in the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance” project and his insistence on being a military arm subordinate to the Revolutionary Guard commanders.

By the way, this is not an analysis or conclusion on my part. It is a clear official statement by Ismail Haniyeh to Iran’s Al Alam channel. He said, “The Palestinian resistance will stand alongside Iran as part of the axis of resistance against the Americans and Zionists’ threats.” A strange alignment of the alleged Palestinian national liberation movements with a project in which Arabs and among them Palestinian Arabs, hold no interest.

Everyone knows that the Iranian project is the implementation of an expansionist ideology that is strategically expanding at the expense of the Arab interests. I will not go into the well known details of Iran’s recruitment of movements and militias as a “long arm” in the region.

But I wonder that the leaders of a Palestinian Arab movement do not know the difference between seeking legitimate rights for their people and interfering in a regional conflict that has nothing to do with their national cause. One might claim that Iran is supporting Hamas with money and weapons. This is true.

The Arabs, on the other hand, spend their money on their Palestinian brothers, not on movements and organizations that use it to buy weapons and fight battles that do more harm than good to the Palestinian Arabs. So what does the Palestinians or their cause gain from Hamas’ violent rounds against Israel in recent years?

Everyone knows the extent of the destruction and human and material losses that the Gaza Strip has suffered as a result of the military escalation between Hamas and the IDF. Everyone also knows the extent of the suffering and the worsening human tragedy in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and other armed movements have become a burden to the Palestinian Arabs and their cause.

Violence cannot be the only option for a movement that claims to defend its people and demand their rights. The truth is also that Hamas’ problem lies in its ideological vision, which aims to strip the Palestinian cause of its Arabicity.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology does not believe in the Arabicity of the Palestinian cause. It does not recognize the historical and current ties with the Arab peoples who, despite all circumstances, changes and strategic challenges, have considered and continue to regard this issue as central. Hamas knows only the language of weapons.

It has not learned any lessons from the interactions that have taken place on the Palestinian Arab stage since 2006 until today.

It has not understood that its only success is to maintain internal division and isolate some 2 million Palestinian Arabs within the borders of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Arab cause and its adherents have suffered great losses due to divisions and internal weaknesses, changes at the regional and international levels - the wave of chaos and unrest that has gripped many Arab states since 2011 - and qualitative changes in US foreign policy.

Of course, few observers can deny that the chances for a political solution to the Palestinian Arab issue have diminished. There are Israeli attempts to force a sustainable strategic reality. However, this is normal in the context of each party’s search for its interests and the ongoing political and partisan rivalry.

This does not mean that diplomatic solutions cannot be found that satisfy both sides of the conflict. Israel recognizes that there is no final military solution that will end the violence and bloodshed. Israel is making serious efforts to establish normal relations with all Arab parties, including the Palestinians.

This is evidenced by the success and development of recent peace agreements with several Arab countries. But how does everyone find a new equation for a solution? This requires a different strategic thinking by the Palestinian Arabs and a new understanding of the conflict environment in light of the current regional and international geostrategic landscape.

The interest of the Palestinian Arabs themselves must be the sole compass for political thinking. This is the only way out of the threat of differences, divisions, outdated ideas and traditional stereotypes that dominate the thinking of Palestinian Arab leaders.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst