The New PA-Hamas Agreement: Opening the Gates to the Trojan Horse - Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Although the words of the Doha Declaration on PA-Hamas reconciliation signed on Feb. 6 sound weighty, their practical significance is small since it does not express genuine Hamas recognition of Abbas' leadership or authority. Instead, it is merely verbal, expedient recognition for tactical reasons, intended to enable Hamas' official entry into the PLO in the framework of new elections for the Palestinian National Council and to pave the way for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections.
- The Hamas leaders are trying to implement the strategy of the Arab Spring in the Palestinian arena. They assume they will win an overwhelming majority in the elections and, thereby, complete their historic takeover of the Palestinian national movement. In other words, they view Abbas as the doorman who opens the gates to the Trojan horse.
- From Abbas' perspective, his appointment as prime minister, in addition to president, will enable him to maintain the international recognition of the Palestinian government despite the agreement with Hamas, and give him room to maneuver in contacts with the international community, both politically and in terms of keeping the aid money flowing. Abbas thereby buys himself some quiet for an interim period. When it ends, though, he will likely find himself without assets and in a minority in the representative institutions of the Palestinian national movement.
- Abbas' cooperation with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, and his uncompromising refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, illustrates the strategic choice he has made. He does not prefer the path of a political settlement but, rather, to link up with Hamas and the other regional forces emerging in the Arab Spring and thereby use them as a force multiplier against Israel without having to offer political concessions. The release of 64 "political" prisoners is not only a gesture to Hamas but also an implicit message that the security cooperation with Israel is secondary in Abbas' eyes to the old-new alliance with Hamas.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.