World View: Hamas Struggles to Find a Direction After the Gaza War

EU court reverses Hamas's status as terror group

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Hamas struggles to find a direction after the Gaza war
  • UN Security Council rejects Palestinian Authority resolution, without US veto

Hamas struggles to find a direction after the Gaza war

Gaza still in ruins after summer war, with reconstruction promises forgotten (Getty)
Gaza still in ruins after summer war, with reconstruction promises forgotten (Getty)

Hamas’s popularity within Gaza surged to its highest levels during the summer Gaza War, especially when Hamas promised that they would never allow Gaza to return to the status quo ante prior to the war. Militarily, the war was a disastrous defeat for Hamas, since Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system blocked almost every Hamas missile entering Gaza, while Hamas could put up almost no resistance to the Israeli warplanes bombing Gaza. Hamas had to agree to a ceasefire that was, effectively, a return to the status quo ante. Now Palestinians look around and see a Gaza in ruins. Promises of reconstruction have been almost forgotten. Promises to negotiate opening the borders have been forgotten. Not surprisingly, Hamas’s popularity has been falling, and there is popular discontent with the Hamas leadership.

Apparently this discontent has spread to the leadership of Qatar. During the last two years, Qatar has increasingly split with Egypt, and strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, even providing substantial aid to Hamas. But now, threats from the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and from Iran are bringing about a reconciliation between Qatar and Egypt, and even the financial aid is threatened.

This is requiring Hamas’s leader to face some difficult choices:

  • According to some reports, Hamas is considering renewing its ties with Iran. This would be a match made in hell, since Iran is a Shia Muslim country, and Hamas is a Sunni Muslim terrorist group, so their core beliefs are fundamentally in conflict, even if they do share a common enmity of Israel. Hamas used to have its headquarters in Damascus, but had to leave when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started exterminating innocent Sunni women and children. The Hamas leadership moved its headquarters to Doha, Qatar, but now a move to Tehran is being considered, according to some reports.
  • According to other reports, Hamas is considering negotiating directly with Israel. This is anathema to the Hamas leadership, and it’s forbidden by the Hamas charter. But according to Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political chief of Hamas, this idea is being discussed by Hamas leaders: “The reaction was, overall, quite good. There is a new generation of young leaders coming up, and they are the people we should look to carry out the reforms necessary.”

The above two policy proposals are, of course, in conflict with each other. But the fact that two such radical concepts are even being discussed illustrates how directionless Hamas has become, and difficult its choices are now. Al Monitor and Independent (London) and Debka

UN Security Council rejects Palestinian Authority resolution, without US veto

In what was apparently the outcome of a strategic blunder by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday voted against a resolution that would require Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories to pre-1967 borders by 2017.

The motion was rejected because only 8 of the 15 members voted in favor of it, with two votes against and five abstentions, including the UK. Nine votes of support are required, and so it was not necessary for the U.S. to exercise its veto, as it had said it would do. But the PA had wanted to force a U.S. veto anyway for symbolic reasons.

The fact that the vote was scheduled at all was a diplomatic surprise. Many diplomats had expected the vote to take place after January 1, when there would be new non-permanent members, and supposedly a greater likelihood of passage. However, the PA insisted on having the vote today, after France and Luxembourg announced that they would vote for the resolution, which led the PA to believe they had the necessary nine votes. That was the miscalculation as Nigeria, which had been expected to vote in favor, abstained instead.

According to the U.S. State Department: “There are a number of countries that have indicated they cannot support this resolution. Even among countries that are longstanding supporters of the Palestinians and that have indicated they would vote in favor of the resolution, many of them have also acknowledged that it is an unconstructive and poorly timed resolution.” Reuters and Al Alaribya (Riyadh)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Iron Dome, Gaza War, Qatar, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Palestinian Authority, Security Council, France, Luxembourg, Nigeria
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