Those who follow the news on Hamas' Website or hear its spokesmen will have a difficult time deciding who Hamas' real enemy is. Is it Israel? Egypt's state media, which launched a media offensive against the organization behind the breach of Egypt's border? Or is it the Palestinian Authority, depicted as an enemy in cahoots with the Zionist entity?
After all, the fire of Qassam rockets at Israel is determined by its relationship with Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab governments, just as much as it is by Israel's response. In a way, the Qassams are aimed not only against Israel but also at Ramallah and Cairo.
"Hamas will not allow anyone to undermine its military power that manifested itself in the seizure of the Gaza Strip, nor shall it allow anyone to undermine its political power that manifested itself in its near complete control of the Palestinian parliament," wrote Abdullah al-Rahim, a Palestinian supporter of Hamas. "[Hamas] is not stupid and will therefore not permit the international, Arab and Islamic sense of outrage over the suffocating siege of Gaza to dissipate."
On the other hand, al-Rahim claims that "Fatah will not be able to concede political defeat by allowing Hamas to govern or even give it any kind of legitimacy. That is why it is demanding Hamas completely abandon its gains in what it calls a 'coup.' This goal cannot be realized because Hamas will not be easily willing to relinquish its gains that cost Palestinian blood."
Here lay the epicenter of the internecine Palestinian struggle in which Israel has become a pawn. One aspect of this struggle is control of the Rafah crossing, which has already sparked threatening clashes with Egypt. Saudia Arabia and Cairo understand Hamas will not completely relinquish control of the crossings or of its political standing to veto any diplomatic process. For a long time they have been trying to reconcile between Fatah and Hamas. At this stage, they know it will be to risky - for Egypt in particular - to severe ties with Hamas, which manipulates Arab public opinion so well. But Egyptian concessions to Hamas humiliate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
In the diplomatic arena, Hamas believes a confrontation with Israel that may shed a lot of blood will make their organization seem heroic in the eyes of the Arab public. Particularly, it will prevent Abbas from negotiating with Israel while Israel crushes neighborhoods in Gaza. At the same time, criticism against the organization by its Fatah foes will be construed as supporting Israel as it slays Palestinians.
Such a military campaign, Hamas believes, threatens Abbas just as much as it does Hamas and the citizens of Gaza. Renewing talks between Fatah and Hamas is seen as the last ditch effort to avoid confrontation with Israel, but Abbas will not allow it.
How long Abbas will be able to stand firm in his opposition in light of Syrian and Egyptian pressure to renew talks with Hamas is the question on everybody's mind. If Israel carries out a military operation in Gaza, he will have to review his stance toward Israel and Hamas, which may be the biggest beneficiary of such a scenario.
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