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Hamas in secret talks with Fatah about post-war alliance

Tensions seen between the Islamist group's "military" and "political" wings.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (left) meets with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Feb. 23, 2012. Photo by Mohammed al-Hums/Flash90.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (left) meets with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Feb. 23, 2012. Photo by Mohammed al-Hums/Flash90.

The “political” wing of the Hamas terrorist group is holding secret talks in Doha with its Fatah rivals about forming an alliance after the war in Gaza ends, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

These discussions have increased tensions with Yahya Sinwar, head of the terrorist group’s “military” wing in Gaza, according to the U.S. newspaper, citing people familiar with the negotiations and an Israeli official.

Fatah is the ruling political faction in the Palestinian Authority, which controls Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria. The Fatah-Hamas alliance would fall under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Sinwar was not informed of the “political” wing’s talks and demanded that they be stopped, the source said. He “believes the war isn’t lost yet and says it is too early to compromise,” according to the report.

The negotiations reportedly include Doha-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and former chief Khaled Mashaal, as well as top PLO official Hussein al-Sheikh.

“We are open to sit with him [Fatah, P.A. and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas], to talk with him and with all Palestinian factions, first as a priority to stop the [Israeli] aggression and after that we can think how we can deal with the situation either in the West Bank or Gaza in order to rearrange the Palestinian home, in order to have one political system, one Palestinian authority,” senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

The Islamist’s leadership thinks Gaza may be lost

“The [Hamas] political leadership thinks that Gaza may be lost,” Ehud Yaari, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Journal. “They don’t believe that Sinwar and his people can withstand the Israeli offensive for long, so they want to make a deal now.”

The U.S. State Department last week refused to rule out the possibility of the Hamas terrorist organization retaining power or joining a Palestinian Authority-led governing body for the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.

“We have been clear about our position on Hamas, which the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 due to its premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets,” a U.S. government spokesperson told JNS.

However, “Palestinians’ voices and aspirations must be at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza, unified with the West Bank under the P.A.,” the spokesperson said, adding, “Ultimately, the future of Palestinian leadership is a question for the Palestinian people.

“We remain committed to working with the P.A. and Palestinian leadership on the critical work of strengthening Palestinian institutions … and reinforcing commitments to nonviolence and countering terrorism,” concluded the official.

Hamas is an “essential part of the Palestinian political mosaic,” P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told world leaders gathered in Qatar on Dec. 10, adding that Israel’s goal of eliminating the Islamist terror group is “unacceptable” to Ramallah.

“We want a situation in which Palestinians are united. … I think it is time that Hamas call the Palestinian president and tell him we’re all united behind you, and you are the legitimate authority of the Palestinian people and we are ready to engage,” Shtayyeh stated at the Doha Forum, an annual event sponsored by the state of Qatar.

According to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, nearly three in four Palestinians believe Hamas was right in carrying out its Oct. 7 cross-border attack, in which terrorists murdered more than 1,200 people in Israel and wounded thousands more.

The survey—the second of its kind since Oct. 7—found that 72% of respondents think Hamas was “correct” in carrying out its mass slaughter, while 22% characterized the terrorist group’s decision to attack as “incorrect.”

If an election was held now, Hamas would receive 51% of the vote while Fatah would get the support of 19% of Palestinians.

A majority of Palestinians believe that Hamas is “the most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people today,” the survey found.

When asked which party should rule the Gaza Strip after the Israeli military operation ends, 60% of the respondents selected Hamas.

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