Hamas at a fateful Crossroads

There are many political and symbolic gains achieved with the Al-Aqsa Flood operation, and the legendary steadfastness of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, of which the most important achievement was the restoration of respect for the Palestinian cause globally, the return of the idea of ​​a “two-state solution” to the table, and the collapse of the American approach, which was inherited by the administration of President Joseph Biden from the previous administration, which was based on the concept of “regional peace,” ignoring or bypassing the Palestinian issue and liquidating it realistically through parallel processes, whether through deadly settlement expansion, replacing economic solutions with political ones, liquidating the Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA), and normalization with Arab countries.

On the other hand, the great imbalance of power, whether in terms of the destructive Israeli military force (which caused a massive humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza), the international, Arab and regional positions, the demonization of the movement internationally, and what is more important than that is the attempt of the Netanyahu government to exploit the war to create a new Nakba and more displacement. All of this imposes great strategic and political demands on the movement’s leadership, which go beyond military tactical calculations in the field, while enshrining a pattern of “limited intervention” by the resistance alliance in supporting the movement, in a way that does not lead to a fundamental change in the strategic balance.

The determinants of the strategic reality facing the movement seem very difficult. Despite the severe affliction on the battlefield, it is concerned with stopping the war as a first strategic step, with reconstruction and restoring the pulse of life in Gaza, and with an attempt to bring peace to the disastrous humanitarian conditions in the Strip, and to block the path of the Netanyahu government of displacement and reoccupation of the Strip or a part of it. Hamas is, at the same time, trying to win over some regional and international parties to their side in the negotiations, deals, and pressures to which they and the parties they support are exposed.

The movement is politically maneuvering in very limited spaces. It is clear that there is not only an Israeli agenda but also an international and regional one that has resolved the issue of the movement’s non-continuation in the Gaza Strip first. The redefinition of the Palestinian equation and the current U.S.-Israeli disagreement is not about the survival of “Hamas rule,” but rather about who will govern the Gaza strip?. Will it be the Palestinian Authority (after renewal and reform, according to the new term used internationally and regionally), or Israel through a local government affiliated with the occupation? Or is it a transitional phase and international or regional guardianship until the situation in the sector is sorted out? It is worth noting that the reconstruction, or allowing it, and its cost (which amounts to billions of dollars) are linked to the new political arrangements, and everything proposed excludes “Hamas rule”!

On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing prefer the continuation of the war for internal, personal, and ideological reasons. This means the persistence of humanitarian suffering that has exceeded all limits through acts of extermination, killing, starvation, siege, and displacement. As for the movement, it is attempting to end the conflict while remaining in the political arena and preserving its military strength in Gaza. This scenario is intricately linked to fundamental shifts in power dynamics, either on the battlefield or in the international-regional equation. It is not likely to occur in the current state of Arab strategic vacuum, and given the inability of the U.S. administration to compel Netanyahu’s government to decide on a complete cessation of the war before entirely eliminating the military capabilities of the movement, as a declared goal, with displacement in Gaza and the West Bank as a real objective. Attention is drawn to the unprecedented danger of the situation in the West Bank.

This and that puts us before the bigger question: What is the future of the movement inside and outside Gaza, which has shown great ideological and political flexibility in an attempt to break the political siege?! Perhaps this leads us to the more accurate question: What is the formula that the movement can accept within the Palestinian equation and be the key to finding a different international and regional position?! Will we have a “new Hamas” that will take a different political path?!

There are still challenges for the leadership of the movement in rearranging the Palestinian internal affairs in a way that aligns with its struggle, without compromising its revolutionary project. On the other hand, there are Palestinian factions that seek to constrain the movement, and there are attempts to establish closer relations with Fatah to produce a new political situation. The late Saleh Al-Arouri was involved in these efforts along with Jibril Rajoub and others in Fatah. There is also a dialogue between the movement and individuals like Mohammed Dahlan and Nasser al-Qudwa, who pose a political challenge to President Mahmoud Abbas’s rule. In conclusion, there is a significant and decisive turning point that will determine the future of the movement.

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