How will the Qatar crisis affect internal Palestinian politics? (JMD quoted on Diwan)

Hani Masri | Director-general of Masarat, the Palestinian
Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies

Qatar maintains close ties with Hamas and the Palestinian
Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, while also hosting
Hamas’ leadership in Doha. In this context, we can understand
the significance of the visit of a Hamas delegation to Cairo a day
after the outbreak of the Gulf crisis, and its agreeing to Egyptian
security conditions. This led to the reopening of the Rafah crossing,
allowing Egyptian goods and fuel to enter Gaza.

Here was a change in the policy of Egypt, which had preferred to
deal with Gaza through the Palestinian Authority. The change
was explained by Egyptian anger at Abbas’ refusal to reintegrate
Mohammad Dahlan—the former head of the Preventive Security
Force in Gaza and now an ally of Egypt and the United Arab
Emirates (UAE)—into Fatah’s Central Committee, and the
Palestinian president’s punitive actions against Gaza, despite
Cairo’s warning that an explosion there could harm Egyptian

Egypt, the UAE, and other states opposing Qatar seek to take
Gaza out of Qatar’s orbit. That explains the coincidence of the
Egyptian agreement with Hamas and the understandings
reached between Hamas and Dahlan, the Islamic movement’s
old enemy, whose implementation could lead to a new
partnership in Gaza and the emergence of a strong alignment
against Abbas. This would deepen Palestinian divisions, with
Dahlan’s return hastening the battle over Abbas’ succession.
Israel would be the biggest beneficiary. It would exploit
Palestinian divisions to claim that there is no Palestinian
partner, thus implementing its plan to liquidate the
Palestinian cause.

Nathan Brown | Non-resident senior fellow in the
Carnegie Middle East program, professor of political science
and international affairs at George Washington University,
and co-author of the recent Carnegie report 

It is very old news—dating back to 1948 if not earlier—that Arab
states fight their rivals on the turf of internal Palestinian politics.
However, since the 1960s Palestinian national leaders have built
a set of institutions (the different political factions, the Palestine
National Congress, the Palestinian National Authority) or seized
control of others (the Palestine Liberation Organization) to cope
with such meddling and preserve some ability for the Palestinians
to act for themselves.

The current round of intervention in Palestinian affairs by the
United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others is a return to an
era when those institutions were weak or did not exist. It is a
product not only of the new Arab proxy wars but also of 
the decay of Palestinian institutions that now facilitate rather
than resist such meddling. Hamas and the Palestinian National
Authority, the newest elements in the Palestinian institutional
makeup, actively allow others to write Palestine’s future.

However, the current round of intervention is worse for
Palestinians than its counterpart a half-century ago, when outside
actors at least evinced a pretense of commitment to the Palestinian
cause. Today’s meddlers benefit no identifiable Palestinian interest.

James Dorsey | Senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of
International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological
University, syndicated columnist, and author of the blog, 

The short answer is that the jury is still out. What is clear is that
Hamas has been left out from the list of organizations drafted by
the Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance opposed to Qatar.
This was done as an incentive to push the Islamist group to accept
a power-sharing agreement in the Gaza Strip that would allow the
return of Mohammed Dahlan, the former head of the Preventive
Security Force there. Dahlan is an Abu Dhabi-based arch-rival of
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who has close ties to Abu
Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Egyptian President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor
Lieberman. Dahlan’s ambition is to succeed Abbas.
Lower salaries for public-sector employees in Gaza paid by Abbas’
Palestinian Authority (PA) and reduced Israeli energy supplies to
the strip at the PA’s behest have caught Hamas in a pincer
movement imposed by Abbas, Israel, Egypt, and the UAE. As a
result, it has been forced to turn for help to Egypt, a UAE and Saudi
ally, and to enter into talks with Dahlan about a power-sharing
agreement. Hamas is caught between a rock and a hard place.
Continued economic pressure undermines its ability to rule.
Surrendering any degree of control over Gaza undermines its
power base. In short, whichever way the Gulf crisis is resolved,
Hamas’ position and standing are likely to be impacted.


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