‘Hamas is more legitimate than Fatah’

Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies gives his thoughts on the unity deal, Abbas’s election as PM.

February 10, 2012 14:03
1 minute read.
PA President Abbas, Hamas chief Mashaal in Qatar

PA President Abbas meets Hamas chief Mashaal in Qatar 390 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout)

The Jerusalem Post is joined by Raphael Israeli, a professor in Middle East and Islamic studies in Hebrew University. Professor Israeli asserts that the recent Qatar-brokered unity agreement was an attempt by both Fatah and Hamas to gain a degree of legitimacy.

Since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is already acknowledged and accepted by the international community, Hamas sought to reenter the international arena by gaining legitimacy through association with him. Qatar was the appropriate broker for the deal, since, unlike previous brokers such as Egypt, the gulf state remains untouched by the Arab Spring.

Mahmoud Abbas was chosen to be the interim prime minister for a unity government which will consist of a cabinet of experts, not politicians, to be agreed upon by both parties.

The PA had always acknowledged the majority that Hamas achieved in parliamentary elections within the territories, yet until 2007, it meant little since Abbas still had control. But that year, Hamas established a de factor “second Palestinian state” in Gaza, which, according to Professor Israeli, is actually the only one that is legitimate because they still have the parliamentary majority among the Palestinians.

Furthermore, Hamas is able to effectively run Gaza, something which the PA has proved incapable of doing.  According to Israeli, Fatah would not last a single day in the West Bank without the presence of emergency forces from Israel. Ironically, the world continues to treat the PA as a democracy and Fatah as a legitimately elected party, even though Abbas and his government essentially finished their term over a year ago and have not held elections since.

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