On the Hamas-PA Reconciliation Treaty

By Boris Hammerschlag, Statement of the Internationalist Socialist League, 4.11.2017, http://the-isleague.com/

It seems that the decade-long split in the Palestinian leadership, between the secular Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority and the Islamist Hamas, has come to an end. Most Palestinians, suffering under an immeasurable number of layers of external as well as internal oppression, heaved a sigh of relief.

Marxist revolutionaries should of course defend it against those who wish to destroy it, the most dangerous of which – Israel. Israel has already begun its attempts to sabotage the talks by blowing up a tunnel killing 7 Palestinians.[1] However, we must also pay close attention to the mixture of genuine reason for hope and dangerous illusions that is now prevalent more than ever among the Palestinian people and its supporters all around the world.

It is hard not to draw a line between the unification of the ‘67 Palestinian leadership via the Hamas-PA Reconciliation Treaty and the unification of the ‘48 Palestinian leadership by means of the Joint parliamentary List. Both resemble not only in benefits but also in their shortcomings.

Both “burials of the hatchet” came to be after a long period of intense public pressure, however both did not happen until swift, hatchet dropping, outside pressure, came down upon all factions at the same time, by the forces of Zionist colonialism and/or US led imperialist coalition. The Joint List of the ‘48 Palestinian was not formed a second before the Zionist right-wing government decided it could perhaps rid the Knesset of Palestinian representation (after failing to do so through the judicial system) by sharply raising the electoral threshold. Similarly, the Reconciliation Treaty was not signed a second before US state department led by US president Donald Trump pushed for it, as part of a larger scheme to form a Sunni alliance against Shi’ite forces, led by Iran and backed by the rival imperialist camp – Russia & China.

While the Palestinian workers and oppressed are hopeful that the end to infighting would strengthen Palestinian resilience and ability to struggle for the decolonization of Palestine and its liberation from Zionist and imperialist oppression, it seems that for some elements in the Palestinian bourgeois leadership, this treaty is yet another opportunity to appease and reconcile with US and EU imperialism.

The PA has been a longstanding partner of the Israeli government in suppressing any organized resistance to the ‘67 occupation. While the talks with Hamas took place in Cairo, a key element of this partnership – the Security Coordination – was still in a state of suspension following the al-Aqsa crisis.[2] However, soon after the treaty was announced – this suspension has been lifted.[3]

On the other side, rhetorically super-militant Hamas has himself been cornered into submission, having de-facto ruling a starved, mental as well as physical diseased Gaza Strip – the largest prison on the planet. What started as a Zionist siege of ghettoisation in 2006, has been since tripled – joined by both Egypt blocking the checkpoints and destroying the smugglers’ tunnels, and the PA freezing funds and denying electricity.

All besieging allies have been waiting patiently for the starving and angry people to rise-up and take down Hamas’ government. However, Palestinian steadfastness (Sumud) has yet again proved itself as having few to little rivals worldwide. Despite that, after the 2014 massacre, Hamas has been forced by Israel to participate, like the PA, in suppression of resistance coming from Gaza. Together with the deteriorating material conditions, Hamas’ leadership understands well that the current situation could only split into 2 possible directions:

Either, the starving population takes up arms in hands in an uprising against Israel and its Palestinian collaborators, or Hamas itself would implode and come apart the seams of its various internal factions – both tribal and politically oriented. Having lost popularity among the people Hamas knows it would not be able to co-opt such an uprising and steer it towards its own aims and goals. And like most “official” leaderships in this region – it finds itself increasingly relying on the financial and political support of imperialist superpowers instead of the love and support of the masses. This led to Hamas declaring that it is willing to accept the two-state solution and de-facto recognize Israel’s right to exist on stolen Palestinian land. [4] Last week, Hamas has formally relinquished control over the checkpoint under its control to the PA.[5]

Thus, we’ve been asked online about our position (as Marxist revolutionaries) as to why on earth we would refuse to condemn such unification, as its clear direction is not towards struggle, but towards imperialist co-optation. To that we answer that, many times, in order to convince the masses, most of whom do not share our views on how a leadership should be formed and operate to serve the masses and the liberation struggle, we must march with them and defend any political action that has even the slightest chance of leading to collective victory.

The revolutionary masses do not learn from middle-class intellectuals talking over their heads, but mostly, through experience. However, this experience must, in turn, be put into words in order to communicate, work collectively and in practice, towards our joint goals. We consider the Hamas-PA, as well as the ‘48 Joint List unifications, as mass-experience of paramount importance.

This critical support is aimed at exposing the illusions and stirring up hope at the very same time. Since the Palestinian leadership claims its unification is for the purposes of struggle, at least against the ‘67 occupation, let us make sure they stick to their words. The only way we can do that is by building a grassroots revolutionary leadership from below. Surely the re-united PA, aimed at struggle, would find it difficult to oppose the formation of neighborhood and village struggle committees, whose leadership would be democratically elected and subject to immediate recall by a popular vote.

We must state over and over again, that the only solution for the liberation of Palestine from Zionism will come as a result of an Arab working class, leading the oppressed masses in an uprising, aimed not only against remnants of 19th century colonialism (such as Zionism) and imperialism, but also against the capitalist order itself which gave birth to the myriad forms of cruel barbaric oppression, suffered by the masses, which words could not even begin to describe.

We predict that such uprising will be triggered, in our region, by a struggle for democracy, similar to the Arab-Spring, but since the capitalist ruling classes fear democracy might cut into their profits of exploitation, they would do whatever they can to crush it, making themselves a perfectly visible enemy to the exploited and oppressed. Their removal would be the first step towards socialism and eventually a communist – community based – society.


[1] http://tinyurl.com/yd7v4hqd

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/aqsa-crisis/535173/

[3] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237315

[4] http://tinyurl.com/yctqykpm

[5] http://tinyurl.com/yd7v4hqd

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