Diplomacy

Leaks: Hamas Will Join PLO, Gets to Keep Arms

Al-Monitor on Wednesday published a translated English-language version of an article by Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Hazem Balousha, in which Balousha revealed a range of previously unknown details regarding a recent unity agreement between the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions, including news that Hamas had secured a commitment enabling its personnel to take up posts inside the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO):

Abbas has seemingly made a concession about Hamas’ participation in the PLO and its institutions. This had long been an obstacle to the implementation of all the previous agreements, which prompted Hamas to waive the participation of any of its members or close associates in the next — likely technocrat — government.

The Hamas source said, “The reconciliation agreement cannot succeed without the activation of the PLO and Hamas’ participation in it. This is a clear and explicit condition to Hamas, and this is what was signed in previous agreements and emphasized in the latest agreement.”

The PLO is one of the parties with which Israel officially conducts peace negotiations, and is – in theory – bound to core obligations including the renunciation of violence and the recognition of Israel. Top Hamas figures have in recent days been unequivocal in emphasizing that any unity deal would see them maintaining their commitment to the eradication of the Jewish state:

Mashaal said that in wake of the failure of the peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians were in need of a unified political decision and a joint strategy that would lead to the “liberation of our lands and holy sites and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.”

The Hamas leader voiced optimism over the prospects of success for the unity agreement, which Fatah and Hamas signed in Gaza Strip on April 23.

He added that while Hamas was in favor of political and diplomatic action against Israel in the international arena, “there is no past or future without jihad and resistance. Jihad is our path.”

Another aspect of the agreement would reportedly allow Hamas to “keep controlling the security forces in Gaza without any change or amendment,” establishing a situation in which the terror group was allowed access to Palestinian institutions long backed by the West without having to yield – for instance – what are suspected to be tens of thousands of Iranian-supplied missiles and rockets.

If confirmed, the description of the unity agreement is likely to reinforce growing analyst concerns that the unity deal amounts to a life-line thrown to the otherwise spiraling Hamas by the Western-backed Fatah faction.

[Photo: 2 News / YouTube]