opinion : Opinion| Egyptian-American pressure, Israeli retreat, and Hamas concessions

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:48 PM

Nafeza 2 world - The ongoing crisis in Gaza demands a focused approach to the significant changes occurring within the Palestinian resistance movement, regardless of its name or ideology.

On 7 October, an attack on Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip exposed weaknesses in Israel’s security and intelligence mechanisms. This incident led to several senior security and military officials resigning. However, it also revealed that the leaders of the resistance movements and their factions—whether political or military—lacked a comprehensive understanding of the political and military experiences they had encountered in their historical conflict with Israel. These leaders now confront a harsh truth: the vast gap between their illusions of power and the actual balance of power. While the former represents a sense of potential change, regardless of its nature and consequences, the latter necessitates possessing the necessary components and rationalizing their use for the present and future.

When the Israeli threat of invading Rafah became inevitable, the Egyptian government played a decisive role in crisis resolution. Behind the scenes, numerous negotiations occurred, resulting in the diminishing role of Qatar and the ascendancy of Egyptian diplomacy. This correction repositioned the Palestinian crisis as an Arab issue requiring resolution, rather than merely a political card used by ambitious parties or dreamers to fill a Middle Eastern vacuum. After extensive negotiation, hope was rekindled, leading to a truce agreement between the factions and Israel. This agreement aimed to spare the Palestinian people from the repercussions of the scheduled Rafah attack. All parties involved made significant concessions to reach this settlement.

As resistance movements face challenges, they must make painful concessions that often reshape their founding principles. These principles may no longer be applicable due to changing times, events, and historical context. Recent events have compelled them to adopt a pragmatic approach focused on achieving the seemingly impossible, rather than adhering to illogical beliefs. The exchange of time for land suggests that relinquishing unnecessary land over time may be wiser, and politics often involves conceding before being compelled to do so. The key lies in doing what is necessary today, recognising that it may fall short of what will be required tomorrow.

The resistance movements had to revise their concepts and ideologies when their ambitions outstripped their capabilities. Even if they were formidable, their limited military strength could only create trouble for the occupying power. The occupying force wields control both internally and externally, making it challenging for resistance movements to achieve political success solely through military means. Diplomacy emerges as the essential tool for political gains.

The evidence of change within the Palestinian resistance is clear and requires no further proof. Firstly, the resistance movements, particularly Hamas, have announced their readiness for a five-year truce with Israel. Secondly, they have agreed to disarm and transform into a political party expressing their views within legitimate and popularly elected institutions. Another indicator of inevitable change is that the resistance movements and factions no longer enjoy the stability provided by their natural allies—from Egypt and Jordan to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates. Even Qatar, which previously hosted resistance leaders under pressure from some neighbours, has shifted its stance. Additionally, the United States has announced a reevaluation of its relationship with the resistance.

These concessions represent the strongest and most crucial moments in the history of Palestinian resistance. They preserve the option of legitimizing the use of weapons against the Israeli occupation—a stance reminiscent of the Fatah movement’s behaviour before engaging in peace processes. However, the previous resistance’s positions have at times hindered the peace process more than advanced it.

In the upcoming period, the resistance will appeal to the sentiments of the Palestinian populace to justify its evolving stance before the Palestinian community. We will encounter prevailing narratives, such as:

  • Technological Disparity: The claim that the enemy possesses technology beyond our control.
  • Abandonment by Allies: The notion that the Allies left us to face our inevitable fate against the Nazis.
  • Lack of Preparedness: The acknowledgement that we lack appropriate preparations to confront the enemy.
  • Comparisons with Other Nations: The observation that other, more powerful countries have faced defeat by the same adversary.
  • Limited Alternatives: The realisation that we no longer have strong alternatives.
  • War Weary: Blaming those who are fatigued by armed confrontations, including the recent 7 October conflict.

These justifications for change are long overdue, stemming from a lack of understanding and comprehension of the complex realities at play.

One critical aspect for Israeli security involves addressing Hezbollah and permanently ending its control over southern Lebanon. Negotiations are underway to establish a new settlement, which will likely be finalised in the coming weeks. As the fog of war in Gaza dissipates and responsible parties are removed from the current crisis, a new geopolitical landscape will emerge. The countries that lead the future will be determined, relegating those who do not take the lead to spectator seats—where they can either applaud or express extreme dissatisfaction.

Dr Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University

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