President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas said before meeting with Vladimir Putin on November 23 that he wanted to restart peace talks with Israel under the auspices of the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States, but he also said he is willing to include Hamas in a future Palestinian unity government.
Hamas is an Iranian-backed terrorist group that invokes jihad and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. This organization not only threatens Israel, but Abbas and his PA. Hamas and Fatah (Abbas’ faction) have been at war since 2007 when the terrorists seized the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup against the PA. In that year Abbas banned Hamas and pursued its armed militias in the West Bank. Since 2010, terrorists have planned to combine attacks in Israel with a coup against Abbas in the West Bank. The strike was aborted by Israeli intelligence in August 2014 and the extent of the plan was revealed by The Jerusalem Post in October of the same year.
Abbas’s PA applied severe economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip in 2018. The Palestinian president also suspended the salaries of Hamas members in the Legislative Council, dismissed supporters of the terrorist organization from the Palestinian government and arrested some of its sympathizers.
But when British Home Secretary Priti Patel called on parliament to “outlaw all activity by the Islamic terrorist movement Hamas from the UK” on Nov. 19, claiming that “Hamas has significant terrorist capabilities because of its extensive access to sophisticated weaponry, facilities and training,” Abbas’s PA issued a statement calling the British decision an “unjustified attack on the Palestinian people” and an “obstacle” to peace.
On the same day that the PA condemned the British decision against Hamas, Palestinian security forces cracked down on terrorist supporters in Ramallah and arrested school teacher Hussein Ziyad in Bethlehem. The detainee’s father stated that his son was deprived of his liberty and prosecuted for telling his students that he “preferred the Hamas flag.”
Abbas knows that Hamas has not overthrown and assassinated him because Tel Aviv prevents it, so he pursues Hamas in the West Bank while criticizing London for outlawing them. The Palestinian president sourly attacks Israel knowing that political realism obliges Tel Aviv to protect him.
Mahmoud Abbas failed to topple Hamas in Gaza. His sanctions against the Strip did not push young Palestinians to overthrow their corrupt government but to risk their lives at sea or pay bribes to Hamas officials to emigrate from Gaza.
A 2020 Al-Aqsa University survey revealed that 51% of Gaza’s youth would migrate if they could. Just as Palestinian medical doctors and other professionals are emigrating. In the absence of reliable official figures, it is commonly estimated that 40 thousand young people left Gaza between 2014 and 2020.
Anas Abu Rajileh and Nasrallah al-Farra recently died when their boat was shipwrecked, between Greece and Turkey, while one of them was leaving a recorded message for his mother. Their deaths led to the Twitter hashtag “#WeWantToLive,” in which numerous Palestinians in Gaza held Hamas and Fatah responsible for the misery in the Gaza Strip.
Ghanem Nusseibeh, a member of the oldest Arab Muslim family in Jerusalem stated that Palestinians in Gaza, under Hamas, are:
“…hostages of stagnant policies that only serve the interests of Hamas and its Islamist allies (…) freeing Gaza from these forces, could (…) create a Dubai in the Mediterranean or a new Singapore.”
Neither Hamas nor Fatah will create a Singapore in Gaza or the West Bank, but the need for survival of the authoritarian and corrupt Abbas regime could force it to sign peace if Washington were to maintain Trump’s effective Middle East policy.
With Biden’s erratic foreign policy, the U.S. is unlikely to reach a historic Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to add to the agreements of several Arab countries with Israel which were reached by his predecessor.