by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1437)
The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, is caught on the horns of a dilemma. While its charter calls for the liberation of Palestine from the clutches of the Zionists occupiers, it pursues policies that openly contradict and undermine this position. We will assume that unlike the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas is sincere in its policy objectives. One measure of seriousness is the kind of friends and allies it keeps. Are its allies sincere in helping it to achieve its objectives? If so, what kind of help have they offered or are prepared to offer to advance the Palestinians’ struggle for justice and peace?
Let us be specific. In recent years, Hamas has moved much closer to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It also has close ties with Turkey. All three and other Arabian regimes are now working closely with the Zionists. Islamic Iran, on the other hand, has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian resistance movement for decades. It was Iran’s support that enabled Hamas and Islamic Jihad to withstand the Zionist onslaught on Gaza in November 2012 as well as the summer of 2014. None of the Arabian regimes offered any help. They did not even condemn Zionist atrocities against defenceless Palestinians while some non-Arabian and non-Muslim countries condemned Zionist crimes, some even calling for charging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes.
As recently as last month, Swedish Foreign Minister Wallström condemned the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian teenagers by the Zionist occupation army as documented by Gideon Levy in the Israeli daily, Ha‘aretz (January 17, 2016). Levy wrote, “In 2016, one doesn’t have to be Adolf Eichmann [the Nazi war criminal] to be executed here — it’s enough to be a teenage Palestinian girl with scissors. The firing squads are active every day.” Are the Arabian rulers unaware of Zionist crimes? Netanyahu told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on January 22 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, “Saudi Arabia recognizes that Israel is an ally rather than an enemy because of the two principal threats that threaten them, Iran and Daesh.” If the Najdi Bedouins had any self-respect or dignity, they would have repudiated the Zionist war criminal. But how could they when Netanyahu was speaking the truth? Saudi-Zionist relations have not only intensified, they have become public. Netanyahu went further, “By nurturing these relationships that are taking place now with the Arab world, that could actually help us resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we’re actually working toward that end.”
The kind of peace is Israel is prepared to offer the Palestinians is not difficult to envisage. It is expropriating more Palestinian land, bulldozing their homes and evicting Palestinians from Jerusalem. Illegal Zionist squatters continue to build more “settlements” on Palestinian lands in the West Bank.
Against this backdrop, former Prime Minister in the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, on January 6, 2016 sent letters to the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey urging them to support the Jerusalem uprising and the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. Is our brother Ismail Haniyeh unaware of the close relationship between the Zionists and the Arabian rulers? There was not only a public handshake between retired Saudi general Anwar Eshki (now advisor to the Saudi regime) and Dore Gold (currently serving as director general at the Israeli foreign ministry), but Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister for national infrastructure, energy, and water, visited the UAE on January 18, where Gold had visited last November. What is the meaning of all these visits and is the Hamas leadership unaware of them?
Hamas officials try to explain their deepening relations with Bani Saud by claiming that they want to remain “neutral” in the Saudi-Iran tussle. This suggests moral equivalence in the position of the two. Iran is an Islamic state that has consistently supported the Palestinians’ struggle to achieve their legitimate rights. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy run by thieves and bandits who have no regard for human rights, human dignity, or respect for the rule of law. There is no codified law in the medieval Kingdom.
Even from a purely selfish point of view, Hamas would be better off with Islamic Iran than with Saudi Arabia. Tehran has not only consistently supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, it is now the preeminent regional power, recognized even by the Western world. The Najdi Bedouins’ days are numbered; their policies have failed everywhere. Their last desperate attempt is to cling to the Zionists for survival. If Hamas wishes to work through the Saudis, they should be prepared for a sellout. The Saudis have for decades called for surrender to the Zionist entity.
The choice facing Hamas is simple: resistance or surrender? History would render its verdict based on what path they choose.