Writing in Open Democracy, Michael Bröning, author of The Politics of Change in Palestine: State-Building and Non-Violent Resistance, comments on the current power struggle taking place within Hamas:
Recent weeks have witnessed an escalation in tensions from within Hamas, as separate centers of power vie to determine the future course of the movement. The contenders are the leadership in Gaza represented by Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh, and the Damascus-based overall leadership represented by Khaled Meshaal who heads the group’s political bureau. While Haniyeh holds control of a breakaway branch of the Palestinian Authority in the isolated Gaza strip, Meshaal is supported by Hamas members from the West Bank and the Diaspora. Recently, the ongoing public revolt against Meshaal’s Syrian host, President Bashar Al-Assad, has put the head of the political bureau in an increasingly uncomfortable position.
Bröning looks at how the Arab uprisings have aggravated tensions within the Hamas leadership:
In December, Ismael Haniyeh embarked on a western-bound Mediterranean tour in an attempt to gather political support from post-revolutionary regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Yesterday, the Gaza prime minister started a second diplomatic circuit that will bring him to Iran and several Gulf countries. To the dismay of Palestinian diplomats loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh has so far used these visits to stress Hamas’ commitment to “armed resistance“, underlining what he views as “the futility of peace negotiations” with Israel. Similar statements are expected in scheduled meetings in Tehran. In Gaza, Haniyeh has proven uncompromising with a recent call to merge Hamas with the die-hard Islamists of Gaza’s Islamic Jihad who have never ceased terror operations against Israeli civilians.
Haniyeh’s rallying of support has not gone unnoticed by Khaled Meshaal. Contrary to the Gaza prime minister, Meshaal silently backed recent “exploratory talks” between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman. At the same time, Meshaal has attempted to bring Hamas closer to the secular institutions of Palestinian political life as he pushes for Hamas integration into the Palestine Liberation Organization, which at the moment does not include Hamas. Integrating Hamas into the PLO would close Palestinian ranks and effectively mean a cessation of violence from Hamas. At the same time, it would represent at the very least a tacit acceptance by Hamas of agreements previously signed between the PLO and Israel.
Visit Open Democracy to read the article in full.
State-Building and Non-Violent Resistance
Highlights the political activity in Palestine that is building towards a coherent national movement to challenge Israel in the occupied territories.
“Bröning’s lucid text on Palestinian affairs within the context of the continuing Israeli occupation is timely and immensely needed. This book is a must-read for those who want to comprehend the Israeli/Palestinian elephant in its totality, rather than be misled by a blind grasp of just the trunk, an ear, or the tail.” – Khaled Hroub, University of Cambridge
“Michael Bröning provides a much-needed antidote to mainstream writing. He methodically sketches the arc of the Palestinian national movement in the Occupied Territories as it transforms itself from Fatah’s secular nationalist approach to Hamas’s Islamist nationalism. This is a highly valuable book that no student of Palestinian history or the Arab-Israeli conflict can afford to ignore.” – Joost R. Hiltermann, Deputy Program Director Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group, Washington DC