What Does Hamas Gain From a Unity Deal?
Fatah has a clear interest in trying to reach a unity deal with Hamas, since the United States has made it clear that we’re not going to put meaningful pressure on Israel no matter what and Israel’s made it clear that it won’t negotiate no matter what. But Matt Duss explains what’s in it for Hamas:
Hamas’s strategy thus far has been to sit back and watch Fatah fail, let the peace process crumble, and remain standing as the only viable Palestinian alternative. Going for this deal now indicates that they feel they have something to lose by continuing to stand aloof. The change to an Egyptian government less willing to rigidly enforce the United States and Israel’s red lines was also almost certainly a contributing factor.
Further, Hamas has seen its support among Gazans drop considerably. Shikaki’s polling shows “50% of Gazans are ready to participate in demonstrations to demand regime change in the Gaza Strip,” where Hamas rules, while only 24 percent of those polled in the Fatah-ruled West Bank said the same. It’s also likely that Hamas feels vulnerable with its key Arab ally and patron Bashar al-Assad facing serious unrest in Syria. The growing challenge to its rule in Gaza by even more extreme Salafist factions may have Hamas worried about its future.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of Egypt opening its borders with Gaza. On the one hand, that should generate some relief of the dire humanitarian situation. On the other hand, it will tempt Israel to try to permanently sever the West Bank from Gaza and push Gaza onto Egypt.