Hamas PM Haniyeh celebrates prisoner deal in Gaza 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Hamas regime in Gaza will be significantly fortified by the Schalit deal and
see its standing in the Palestinian street, and the wider Arab-Muslim world,
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Despite Israel’s overwhelming military superiority, Hamas has
been able to force Jerusalem to negotiate with it as an equal partner, and has
achieved the release of a large number of terrorists – some of whom were
sentenced to life terms for personally murdering Israeli civilians.
the wave of turmoil began rocking the Middle East and North Africa, the Islamist
enclave in Gaza, led by Ismail Haniyeh, and the Hamas politburo in Damascus,
headed by Khaled Mashaal, had gazed on the region with some concern, fearing
that Gaza’s population could one day rise up and demand greater
Just a few months ago, Iran was Hamas’s only steadfast ally and
patron in the international arena.
Fearing isolation and internal
revolts, Hamas urgently tried to move the Schalit deal forward, knowing that
jubilant scenes of released security prisoners stepping off buses and being
embraced by relatives would be a huge public relations coup that will alleviate
some of the pressure.
Today, Hamas’s position has become stronger, not
only because of the Schalit deal, but also because Turkey, a growing regional
power, is now competing with Iran over who can champion Hamas’s cause
Even more important, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas’s
sister organization, is poised to make major gains in the upcoming parliamentary
elections – a development that seems bound to move Cairo tangibly closer to
All of this is bad news for the nationalist Fatah government in
Ramallah. In 2006, Hamas won a majority in Palestinian elections to parliament.
A year later, Hamas gunmen stormed Fatah positions in Gaza and executed Fatah
members in a coup that ejected Fatah from the Strip. Fatah’s grip on power in
the West Bank is likely more shaky than meets the eye.
The national unity
agreement signed by both sides in June is seen by most observers as an empty
gesture designed to placate popular Palestinian demands for unity.
Schalit deal will be used by Hamas to claim, yet again, that it is the most
effective representative of the Palestinians.
Images of freed Palestinian
prisoners will likely convince many Palestinians that Hamas is right.