Lessons of the Palestinian fighting
The war in Lebanon affected events among the Palestinians. According to public opinion surveys, many Palestinians support 'resistance,' i.e., a continuation of terror attacks. In their view, only resistance brings results and victories.
The bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian Authority, in which innocent bystanders make up the majority of the casualties, offers some important lessons. Lesson number 1 is that the international financial and economic siege of the Hamas government, which is being led by the United States, is succeeding. It is no wonder that some officials, including Israelis, are proposing that the pressure on Hamas be ended just because it has been so successful.
Lesson 2: Despite the suffering caused by the economic hardship and the inability to pay the salaries of PA employees; despite the fragility of the PA and despite the bloodshed - Hamas has an objective that supersedes all of this: Not to recognize Israel, not to accept the agreements that have been signed with Israel and not to forgo terror attacks (which they call "resistance").
Lesson 3: The war in Lebanon affected events among the Palestinians. According to public opinion surveys, many Palestinians support "resistance," i.e., a continuation of terror attacks. In their view, only resistance brings results and victories, and Hezbollah has proved this.
Lesson 4: Despite Hamas' rigid ideological stance against Israel, cracks have begun to show in the organization. The large movement is not as cohesive as it was in the past. There is a debate within Hamas between the ideological level and the pragmatic one, between external Hamas in Damascus and some of the leaders of internal Hamas. The more pragmatic types argue that in order to really capitalize on its election victory, Hamas needs a period of quiet. Only thus will it be able to genuinely take control of the Palestinian Authority. The pragmatists would be willing to remove their opposition to the wording of the so-called "Prisoners' Document," which they at first opposed on the grounds that it implied indirect recognition of Israel.
The ideological level, led by external Hamas and headed by Khaled Meshal - which is supported by the military arm in the Gaza Strip and by Mahmoud al-Zahar, the foreign minister in the Hamas government, contends that no disaster will befall the Palestinians if the diplomatic process falls apart. The continuation of the "resistance" is more important. In their view, Israel is the one that must be pragmatic and accept the reality and Hamas' demands.
Lesson 5: Hamas is not prepared to recognize the agreements that have been signed with Israel, yet it still proposes that Israel accept a new agreement (or understanding) - a 10-year hudna (cease-fire). During this time, Hamas will grow stronger, the financial siege on it will be canceled and it will complete its takeover of the Palestinian political system.
The hudna proposal isn't new. But Hamas' approach is a bit peculiar: They say that they are not ready to uphold agreements with Israel, but at the same time they propose a hudna agreement with Israel, which they are sure to violate when an opportunity presents itself. The naive in Israel, who believe that despite all this such an agreement should be accepted, ought to be reminded of the conditions attached to the proposed hudna: A withdrawal to the 1967 borders, agreement that Hamas will operate in Jerusalem and that Israel will agree to act immediately to resolve the refugee issue.
Lesson 6: Since September 8, Hamas has not taken responsibility for the Qassam rockets that have been fired at Israel. Meaning: They are not doing the firing, but they may well be supplying rockets to others. Hamas claims that it cannot ensure that Islamic Jihad will also agree to the cease-fire. Meanwhile, the organization's military arm says that it will agree to stop firing the Qassams, but not to halt the terror attacks. In the Gaza Strip, nihilistic groups like the Army of Islam and the Resistance Committees who are adopting Al Qaeda's principles have been gaining strength.
Lesson 7: The fate of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is being decided not only in Gaza, and the Egyptians are not alone in playing a role in the matter. Syrians and Iranians have also been meeting with Meshal. This just goes to show that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is expanding to the point of multilateral involvement by numerous parties.
Final lesson: The current bloody conflicts among the Palestinians indicate once again that Hamas is far from ready to forsake its religious principles, which say there shall be no relinquishing of the Islamic holy lands upon which Israel sits. This is a problem that the Palestinians will have to resolve among themselves - because there is no chance that Israel will agree to convert to Islam.