Written by: Khaled Abu Toameh~Gatestone Institute
Article source: www.bridgesforpeace.com

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s continued rapprochement with the Iran-backed Hamas is jeopardizing the Palestinians’ relations with Egypt. Egyptian media outlets have resumed their scathing attacks on the Palestinian leadership in general, and the Islamist movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007 in particular.

The Egyptian attacks came on the eve of a meeting in Turkey between leaders of Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas. At the meeting, held under the auspices of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Hamas and Fatah leaders discussed ways of ending their dispute and holding long overdue Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Fatah–Hamas meeting in Turkey took place in the context of Abbas’s initiative to achieve Palestinian “national unity to confront Israeli and American schemes against the Palestinians.” The reconciliation efforts are also designed to thwart normalization agreements between Israel and some Arab states.

The Egyptian attacks, focusing mostly on Hamas, are aimed at sending a warning to Abbas against joining the extremist camp led by Iran, Qatar and Turkey. In addition, the attacks are aimed at reminding Abbas and the rest of the world that Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, continues to pose a real threat to Egypt’s national security.

Abbas, however, seems determined to ignore the Egyptian warnings and is marching full speed toward forming an alliance with Hamas and its masters in Iran, Qatar and Turkey.

Abbas has already damaged the Palestinians’ relations with some Arab countries by condemning the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain for signing peace treaties with Israel. Abbas and his senior officials have accused both Gulf countries of “stabbing the Palestinians in the back” and betraying the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque by signing normalization accords with Israel.

A sign of the growing rift between the Palestinians and the Arab world surfaced on September 22, when Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki announced that the Palestinians decided to “relinquish” their right to preside over the Council of the Arab League at its current session, in protest of the decision of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel.

The decision marks the beginning of a divorce process between the Palestinians and the Arab world. The Palestinian leadership has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017, when President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians have also suspended their ties with Israel, including security coordination.

The Palestinians have, in addition, lost the support of several Arab countries because of their recurring condemnations of Arab governments and leaders who want to make peace with Israel.

Now it appears that the Palestinians are also headed toward ruining their relations with Egypt because of Abbas’s decision to make peace with Hamas and appease Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

Egyptian journalists and writers have joined the chorus of critics in the Arab world who are accusing the Palestinian leadership of lacking a clear strategy that would serve the interests of the Palestinians. The journalists and writers have also launched a scathing attack on Hamas for its involvement in terrorism and for throwing itself into the open arms of Iran, Turkey and Qatar. According to Egyptian writer Farouk Jweideh: “The Palestinian issue is no longer at the forefront of Arab issues, and it has retreated in international forums and behind the scenes of the United Nations, and even in the Arab League…nobody now knows Mahmoud Abbas’s future, because everyone has abandoned him.”

Jweideh held Palestinian leaders responsible for the “decline” of the Palestinian issue, and in particular the conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

Egyptian writer Abdel Mun’em Said accused Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Hamas of “using history profusely, selectively and tragically to impose appropriate political and strategic choices to maintain a state of tension, hostility and conflict in the region.” According to Said, the goal of the four parties is to infiltrate the Arab countries and obtain material and political gains in the region.

Egyptian broadcaster Basma Wahba noted that Hamas has a history of igniting strife in the region, with the help of Qatar and Turkey. “We lived in a great illusion that Hamas aims to fight Israel to liberate Jerusalem,” Wahba said. “It is time for people to know the truth about this movement and its sabotage goals in this region. With the backing of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas has armed militias and plays a destructive role in the region. Erdoğan has used the Hamas leaders to achieve his goals in the region, and many Hamas members have acquired Turkish citizenship.”

Commenting on Hamas’s hypocrisy and corruption, Egyptian writer Hashem al-Fahkrani remarked: “Those who believe that Hamas’s first goal is to resist Israel are mistaken. Its first and only goal is to receive money. Hamas’s slogan is: Loyalty to anyone who pays the most.”

Al-Fakhrani was referring to the Qatari cash grants that have been delivered to Hamas in the past year. “Qatar has provided Hamas with more than a billion dollars since 2012,” he said. “Qatar did not provide these funds out of a humanitarian standpoint and to help the residents of the Gaza Strip. The Qataris did so to help Hamas and its leaders and to enable Qatar to establish a foothold in the region.”

Were these allegations against Hamas published by Israel, they would have been dismissed by many in the West as “Israeli propaganda.” These accusations, however, are coming from Egypt, the largest Arab country that has a shared border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The Egyptians are trying to sound an alarm bell to Abbas and the rest of the world about the dangers of the Hamas–Iran–Turkey–Qatar alliance that poses a threat to security and stability in the Middle East.

Yet the Palestinian leadership and the international community appear distinctly indifferent to the looming danger of this newest axis of evil. For them, the only fate worse than death is normalization between the Arabs and Israel. Abbas has once again pegged his hopes and those of his people on entities that would obstruct the Palestinians and destroy Israel.

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Date published: 16/10/2020

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