A debate has been going on within and outside Hamas’ lobbies since a decision was made to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council, conduct legislative council elections, and form a government of Palestinian factions, about the available options before Hamas, also in light of the deviousness of the [Israeli] occupation and its lack of commitment to understandings sponsored by Egypt with Arab and international contribution, as well as the suffocating financial crisis Hamas suffers.
Some call on Hamas to restructure the Administrative Committee, form a government of factions, form salvation council, salvation front, or just conduct municipal elections so that some legitimacy can be bestowed and perhaps enable Hamas to penetrate the tight blockade. Alternatively, some call for continuation and escalation of the marches of return and even resort to armed escalation to force Israel to end the blockade. Some call for a federation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip led by a unified Palestine Liberation Organization. Some even prefer creating a small state in Gaza Strip since it is "liberated" and can be leverage of growth and progress and when the time is right the West Bank can join or choose to be annexed to Israel, Jordan, or have better autonomy conditions within isolated areas.
There is a hidden voice that silently calls for accepting the invitation for conducting elections, even if only legislative council elections, because working with the Palestinian National Authority is the lesser of two evils, and to try to change the elections into legislative council and presidential elections, form a national unity government or a government of national consensus to take on the responsibility for preparing for and supervising elections.
Some even call for empowering the Palestinian National Authority to rule Gaza Strip despite the heavy price that may be ensued, which would be less than the price paid as the situation goes on or opting for most of the proposed options.
Which option is feasible? This is more important than calling for any of the available options. Is it possible to deliver the requirements and conditions of realizing any of the options? One may dream as he/she wishes. There are dreams that change reality and help advancement; however, others are daydreams that replace reality with imagination that has nothing to do with reality.
Calls vary as well as those who stand behind the options, including Hamas or those who are close or distanced from Hamas. However, the multiple opinions and options and heated argument surrounding the options show the dilemma Gaza Strip faces and the limited options; though others argue otherwise. Gaza Strip is not liberated though occupation troops are no longer in it and there is success in creating relatively strong resistance. The occupation takes the shapes of blockade and aggression making Gaza Strip the largest prison in history. The lulls and ups and downs are nothing but attempts to make life good inside the prison.
Exaggerating the situation in Gaza Strip and what the resistance can do lead to erroneous policies and wishful thinking leading, if prevailed, to disappointments as big as the erroneous policies and wishful thinking are. This does not to undermine the capabilities of the resistance, which makes any or occupation of Gaza highly costly rather than a walk in the park, and forces the occupation to think twice before considering direct reoccupation of Gaza Strip.
In light of the above, capabilities must not be overestimated or underestimated. The occupation will pay a price of any large scale armed confrontations. It is true; however, the price our people will pay is much heavier due to major lack of power balance, division, and that Arabs and the world are busy with other issues and conflicts.
To know which option is feasible, let us take a step back in time to the moment when Hamas decided to be part of the Palestinian National Authority, despite the heavy chains it was chained with, and then its coup d’état against the Palestinian National Authority while being part of it. Hamas justifies the coup d’état by not being granted the ability to rule after winning the majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. This justification may lessen the crime of the coup d’état; however, it does not annul it. Being dealt a powerful blow does not give you the right to retaliate with a deadly blow.
Hamas uses the coup d’état, which ended in taking over Gaza Strip, to monopolize power and give a bad example of authority and administration in human rights and liberties and in seeking new gains through reconciliatory dialogues and agreements. Hamas should offer to truly relinquish its dominance and appropriation of Gaza Strip when offering to take part in the Palestinian National Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization rather than ask for ending the dominance and appropriation of President Mahmoud Abbas and Fattah Movement over Hamas.
Hamas’ de facto rule over Gaza Strip, which faces blockade and sanctions, makes Hamas – that dominates Gaza Strip – responsible for meeting the needs of the citizens of Gaza Strip, including needs for food, healthcare, education, and jobs. Hamas de facto rule is responsible for reducing unemployment, combating poverty, and ensuring freedom of movement. Combining authority and armed resistance in an unfavorable Palestinian and Arab and regional and international environment have proven difficult, let alone impossible.
The resistance is too busy and consumed with full control over authority. Hamas justification for becoming part of the Palestinian National Authority, and conducting a coup d'état, were to protect the resistance. Was this objective achieved or not? The main job of the resistance. To this end, minimal efforts are dedicated to ensure a lull in return for alleviating the blockade while maximum efforts are dedicated to ensure a long term truce in return for lifting the blockade. This casts doubt over the goal of ending occupation of the land occupied in 1967, establishing the independent state, and the fate of full liberation.
We must remember that the [Israeli] occupation considers Hamas as the enemy. This will continue as long as its well-known demands are not met. However, the occupation wants to benefit from Hamas’ bottleneck to deepen and strengthen the division and ensure that a power emerges in Gaza Strip that it [the occupation] can deal with and can ensure calm where chaos is the alternative.
Egypt, despite improved relations with Hamas in the past two years, is not Hamas’ ally. Egypt seeks to contain Hamas due to lack of an alternative to Hamas and because Hamas’ new leadership has contributed to ensure Egypt’s national security in Sinai and in Gaza Strip. Egypt encourages Hamas; however, within limits and without being an alternative to President Mahmoud Abbas’ authority, which is recognized across the Arab world, internationally, and by Israel.
Hence, restructuring the Administrative Committee will not make any difference; rather, it will make things more complicated. This also applies to creating a salvation council or a Gaza government – even if claimed to be a government of all Palestine – because it will be falling into the trap of separating the West Bank from Gaza Strip. Other factions; especially Islamic Jihad, and those engaged in the newly-created democratic coalition (leftist factions), do not want to be part of such government because it will sustain the division. They do not want to be part of Hamas’ monopoly over power or Fattah government of factions that will sustain division and will consider Gaza Strip as renegade province – the sinister plot of either or.
Conducting municipal elections, university students’ councils’ elections, unions’ and federations’ elections in Gaza Strip is an option worthy of looking into. This is to be accompanied by being prepared to relinquish power for real in Gaza Strip and collective national arrangement for the armed and handing Gaza Strip to trustworthy Palestinian parties paving the way for integration with the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank rather than finding a party that covers for Hamas control over Gaza Strip.
These steps must be taken together with a call for conducting under the supervision of a national unity government or a national consensus government. This also comes while endorsing a full package of comprehensive vision and new political and struggle strategy and real partnership. The salvation front, in this context, shall be the one that works for realizing these objectives. It shall also be open for all powers and individuals and groups that believe in the above and that unity is a necessity on national and democratic and consensus grounds and must prevail over everything else.