BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
As Hamas continues to claim its vague “victory” over the brief war with Israel, there is a sense of pride among Palestinians that Hamas’s choice of violence over peaceful negotiation worked to the advantage of Palestinians not only in Gaza but also those residing in the West Bank, headed by the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen.
Many in the region are now of the view that a campaign of violence against Israeli occupation is far more result oriented compared to decades of peaceful negotiations both at the local and international level that so far, has been fruitless. Hamas came out of the conflict getting what it wanted at the moment. Though, what Hamas achieved is nowhere near its ultimate goal of independence, it has been able to ease Israeli blockade of Gaza based on the new truce with Israel, which prompted the cease-fire.
Soon Palestinian fishermen will be able to cast their nets without fear of shots fired from the Israeli side and once again, goods and people will move from one side of the border to the other without the kind of restrictions experienced prior to the attacks from both sides.
There is no doubt the so-called-victory by Hamas, may have eroded the popularity of the Palestinian Authority and the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinians from both sides of the West Bank and Gaza now see Hamas as the hero able to deliver, without engaging the Israelis in a peaceful negotiation which has been Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority’s mode of dealing with Israel, since taking control of the West Bank.
For many in Gaza, Mr. Abbas is a puppet Israel and the quartet can deceive with peaceful negotiations that usually end up in a veto by the United States, at the UN Security Council. To think his strategy of peaceful negotiation would work, remains a dream majority of Palestinians believe will never come true, after such approach has failed for more than four decades.
The sudden rise of Hamas and its ability to mount a resistance is a challenge to the Palestinian Authority and Mr. Abbas. The fact that Israel caved to Hamas’ demands will make many in the region to doubt the Palestinian Authority’s style of peaceful resistance. Mr. Abbas was unable to play an active role during the attacks and throughout the peaceful negations. On the other hand, Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of Hamas was able to negotiate the cease-fire under the mediation of the newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
The outcome of the recent attacks and the truce reached by Hamas will render Mr. Abbas politically unpopular as those in the region now doubt his ability to deliver on a soon to be submitted bid at the United Nations, to upgrade Palestine’s observer status to a non-member state. So far, the United States has advised Mr. Abbas to drop the bid and Israel on its part is threatening to withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority if the bid goes through the UN General Assembly.
Few months ago, the initial attempt by Mr. Abbas to push for a Palestinian statehood failed at the United Nations. Mr. Abbas dropped the bid after pressure from the United States and Israel even though, majority of member states in the General Assembly expressed their willingness to endorse the move. Since Mr. Abbas failed to deliver on the bid, the Fatah Movement has been under pressure to review and change its strategy of dealing with Israel. Some of its members now see a need to engage Hamas as the only way to have unity of voice since many now believe it is gradually losing power and popularity to Hamas.
Analysts are of the view that unless the Palestinian Authority begins to take a more aggressive stand in dealing with Israel, it may end up losing the West Bank to a Hamas led government in the future. Though, the recent bombings by Israel may have reduced Hamas’s arsenal of weapons, it did not make it less popular. In fact, Hamas will emerge stronger, funding will pour in from interested Arab nations to rebuild its damaged infrastructures and more supplies will come from Iran to replenish the rockets fired to Israel.
Hamas is destined to gain sympathy from its affluent Arab neighbors, after sustaining what is now believed to be a devastating loss of lives and property, in a brief war with a nation considered the most powerful in the region. It may use the current development as a leverage to garner financial support and since it has the reputation of being generous, the leadership will deliver once again by giving free handouts in money, food and supplies to families affected by the Israeli attacks.
The result would be more political advantage for Hamas and support from Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank. Its humanitarian assistance and acts of generosity as the Messiah of Gazians devastated by Israeli attacks will not go unnoticed as Hamas will use it for PR purposes. While the recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is not foolproof and open to abuse, it has played to the advantage of Hamas and will definitely make Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority less popular.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.