Hamas and Fatah join hands against Trump


By Khaled Abu Toameh

HAMAS and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction are continuing to contest control of the Gaza Strip. However, the two rival parties are prepared to lay aside their differences and work together to foil US President Donald Trump's plan for peace in the Middle East, the details of which remain unknown.

Thwarting Trump's peace plan has become a top priority for Hamas and Fatah. This is a mission that seems to be much more important than alleviating the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where 65% of families live under the poverty line.

Although details of the Trump plan still have not been made public, Palestinians across the political spectrum say they will never accept any peace initiative presented by the Trump administration. Whatever the peace plan will be, the answer is No.

In the eyes of the Palestinian leaders, the US administration has shown unprecedented "hostility" toward the Palestinians.

The Palestinians are not only voicing strong opposition to Trump's plan, which is known as the "deal of the century." Hamas and Fatah are now saying that they will do their utmost to thwart it.

They say they see the plan as being as a "conspiracy aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause and national rights." It is not clear why the Palestinians are opposed to a plan the details of which have not yet been made public.

The Palestinian rejection to the plan is evidently based on unconfirmed media reports and rumors.

In any event, the Palestinians know that no US peace plan would comply with their demands.

Abbas's Fatah is demanding 100% of the territories Israel secured in 1967, namely the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, for its part, is demanding 100% of everything, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. As Hamas leaders repeatedly affirm, the goal is to "liberate all of Palestine," meaning all of Israel.

The Palestinians have not presented precisely how they intend to foil Trump's plan, if and when it is made public. At the very least, street protests and strong condemnations of the US, Israel and any Arab country that accepts the peace plan can be expected.

Hamas and Fatah, however, are still quarreling over the "reconciliation" agreement they signed in Cairo in November 2017.

According to Hamas, the agreement has failed because of Abbas's refusal to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.

The arm-twisting between the two rival parties is spurring intense suffering in the Gaza Strip, where a number of hospitals have been forced to close down as a result of severe shortage in medicine and generator fuel.

While Fatah and Hamas are continuing to hurl abuses at each other, however, they see eye to eye on the issue of Trump's "deal of the century."

Hamas and Fatah are willing to support each other and join forces in the war on the US administration's plan.

Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has gone so far as to praise Abbas for his staunch opposition to the "deal of the century." The former Hamas leader said that his movement would even support Abbas in a standoff with the US administration.

In statements published on Feb. 17, Mashaal said that Abbas was "the strongest party that is obstructing" Trump's plan. The Palestinians, Mashaal added, will be the only ones to stand against the plan.

Mashaal's remarks echo those of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other radical Palestinian groups that have also emphasized that Trump's peace plan "won't pass." His remarks are also compatible with those made by Abbas and Fatah, who in the past few weeks have used every platform to express their rejection of the plan.

Take, for example, a recent statement issued by Fatah regarding the plan:

"Without Palestinian compliance, the 'deal of the century' won't pass. The Palestinians reject it. They (the Trump administration) won't find one Arab who will agree to betray Jerusalem and the Palestinian people."

In recent weeks, Abbas himself has also come out against Trump's plan — a move that has clearly earned him the backing of the former Hamas leader. Abbas says that he sees the plan as an attempt by the US administration to "impose dictates" on the Palestinians.

"We don't take instructions from anyone," Abbas was quoted as saying. " We have said 'no' to Trump and we won't accept his plan. We say 'no' and 1,000'no-s' when it comes to our fate, cause and people. We don't accept the US as a broker between us and Israel."

The Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip who are dying for lack of proper medical treatment care little about Trump — or about any peace plan. Neither do the thousands of employees who have been deprived of their salaries or the students who are unable to leave the Gaza Strip because of the continued closure (by Egypt) of the Rafah border crossing. For them, this is a battle of survival. — Courtesy Gatestone Institute

— The writer, an award-winning journalist, is based in occupied Jerusalem.