Any historian who will investigate the history of the split between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and wish that his research be covered with juicy footnotes, will not be able to skip this week. One after the other, the two of them struck each other, not to draw blood, but mainly to humiliate and sow venom in it. A responsible adult is what these two camps do not have, and yet it is not at all certain that we Israelis should wish success for any of the sides.
Mahmoud Abbas's threats against Hamas were what, yet again, started this round of quarrel. For months now he has been playing with the idea of cutting more and more of the budget his government is transferring to the "southern provinces," as the PA calls the Gaza Strip. Hamas decided not to remain silent. They demonstrated against him in a noisy street campaign called "Go Home."
in the central square of Gaza City and demonstrated - with Hamas' encouragement - against the PA. Posters with Abbas's face were hung in the Gaza Strip, and the slogans 'screamed' for him to step down. In one of the video clips recorded in Gaza, a woman was holding a poster with Abbas in her one hand and a shoe in the other, as she thrashed the picture, while cursing at it. The shoe was and remains a crude expression of protest among the Arabs.
Almost since its inception, the PA funded Gaza with NIS 1.4 billion a year. This is the central oxygen pipeline of the Gaza Strip. In the past two years, since he launched an all-out war against Hamas, Abbas has cut a quarter of the annual budget.
In Israel, there are those who believe that the goal of the Abbas is to oust Hamas to fight Israel, and that he will not shed a tear if his two troubles, Hamas and Israel, tear each other apart. In truth, however, Abbas is working to economically drain Gaza until Hamas begs him and his men to take full command over the Gaza Strip.
Recently, the Security Cabinet decided to offset the amount transferred to the PA from the budget transferred to the security prisoners. Every month, Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority taxes it collects in transactions from Palestinian merchants in the West Bank and Gaza. This transfer of money, that amounts to around half a million NIS, is based on agreements signed between the parties after the Oslo Accords. The PA has decided to do exactly that to Hamas and confiscate part of the money (originating from Israel), meaning that it will deduct additional sums from its budget.
When the campaign of defamation against Abbas began, the PA rushed to fire its own ammunition. The media affiliated with it began calling Hamas a "militia". Saeb Erekat, and it was not only him, asked the public to make a clear distinction as to who is calling on Abbas to go home: the Jews and Hamas.
In various corners of the cities of Judea and Samaria, support rallies for Abbas were organized, and against the poster "Go Home" the PLO members designed a poster with a picture of him with the headline "The President and Leader". The longest knife was drawn by Hussein a-Sheikh, one of Abbas's kitchen staff. In a tweet, a-Sheikh wrote that if Hamas continues to act as it does, the PA may take measures or make decisions regarding Hamas' strategic future in the Palestinian arena. There is no other way to read his words but as threats to dry Gaza of cash.
"The PA acts as a unit of elimination," Hamas defended, in an expression taken from the struggle with the IDF.
For many years, the split in the Palestinian camp served Israel. I'm not sure it serves it today. It is good for the Jews as long as it is under control. But this division leads to abject poverty, and poverty breeds protest. Protest evokes bad intentions. Fifty-three percent of Gazans are poor, according to data collected in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Monetary Fund. Thirty-four percent live in deep poverty.
This understanding is taking form in front of our eyes these days. Along the fence in Gaza, there are not two sides, but three. Hamas, the IDF, and the riotous masses. This mob was not born with the encouragement of Hamas, on the contrary, it is a grassroots organization that is now directed at Israel, but is liable to inflame and endanger Hamas as well. Thousands of poor young people, including women, do not act in the name of a religious organization or ideal, but because they have no reason to wake up in the morning, and this reality was born because Gaza underwent a monetary drying processes.
Israel dried Gaza up, Egypt contributed to it in its way, the Arab states abandoned it, and the PA declared war on it. This violent protest movement of the Gaza Strip hates everyone. For now, this movement is an amateur one, so the IDF manages to contain it, but if the situation in the Gaza Strip continues, this movement will have all the ingredients for anarchist crime and terrorism, which Hamas will see as a moderate movement.
This week, Arab and European leaders gathered together in a conference in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh
, initiated by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. For him, the conference was a success. Al-sisi and his men strove to strengthen cooperation with European capitals in the fight against terrorism. In addition, they took advantage of the opportunity to 'hug' the Palestinians on the eve of the presentation of Donald Trump's peace plan. Abbas was one of the speakers.
In his speech, Al-sisi appealed to "all peace-loving people." Do not listen to the propaganda of hatred and division, he read, and do not listen to those who try to blame the other of being the devil just because his religion, gender or ethnic affiliation are not like yours. "We all strive for a better world. Let us embark on a journey of collaboration, on the basis of human values and our confidence that all humanity has one destiny."
This was not the first time that Al-sisi has called for international reform and integration against the extremists. In the past, he declared that something had gone wrong in the way of Islam and should be returned to the tracks. He sought to enlist the clerics to correct the world, which would restore the religion of Muhammad to its proper place. They turned their backs on him. You can understand what pushed him to do it. Extremism engenders terror, and terrorism is one of Egypt's foremost problems.
His mission is almost impossible. Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak left diseases in Egypt's body. To heal, Al-sisi has to start from scratch. To teach the masses that violence is not a way to solve problems, and that religion came into the world in order to fight, rather than serve as a means to create affinity to one another, rather than serve as a means of hatred of the other. He must educate tolerance to100 million Egyptians after 60 years of preaching for religious piety. He must make them accept United States after decades of preaching that is the source of trouble in the world. If he succeeds, he will make history. To date, none of the Egyptian presidents has ended his term in office. Everyone learned the hard way that the problems of the country are too great for its leaders, even if their hands are made of iron and their shoulders wide.