Bardawil: Abbas’s dictatorship hinders Palestinian reconciliation

Salah Bardawil

Salah Bardawil, a member of the political bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said: “The dictatorship of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas hinders realizing any progress in the profile of the Palestinian reconciliation, nor implementing any of the signed agreements.”

He noted that the Hamas Movement didn’t form any government following the formation of the Palestinian consensus government in 2014, but rather “the PLC, being the only legal body after the end of the term of Abbas, formed a governmental committee to follow up official and people’s issues after the national unity government had abandoned its responsibilities towards the Gaza Strip.”

The Hamas leader said in an interview with the PIC that Abbas stopped the implementation of resolutions and agreements signed earlier with Hamas, including the Shati agreement, which resulted in the formation of the national unity government, and prevented holding a meeting for the temporary frame to rebuild the Palestine Liberation Organization, refused to recognize Gaza’s employees employed after 2006, and disabled many proposals to end the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Bardawil added that the PLC acquainted the Palestinian factions with the committee and the nature of its work and invited them to participate in it, “but they refrained from doing so for various reasons.”

The Interview
Tell us about Hamas’s plan to form a committee to run the Gaza Strip, how does this committee look like and why now? What is the most important task for this committee?

Following the formation of the consensus government in 2014, all expected that this government would assume its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, including reconstruction, resolving the issue of the Gaza employees employed after 2006, resolving the electricity crisis, and resolving the Gaza Strip’s other various problems, to pave the way for national elections to take place.

The agreement was supposed to be approved by Abbas as a one bloc, but he didn’t issue a decree calling for holding a meeting for the PLC, so that it gives the national government the needed legitimacy to be approved, and he didn’t agree to fully activate the PLC as agreed, as well as the temporary frame for the PLO, and he didn’t exert enough efforts to achieve a real reconciliation; on the contrary, he increased the number of arrests and the repression of freedoms in the West Bank.

This negatively affected political and social relationships in the Palestinian community. Abbas didn’t allow the government to fully resume its responsibilities. He didn’t allow for the electricity crisis to be resolved by imposing additional taxes on fuel necessary to run the power plant, tightening the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip even more. This led to further worsening the conditions in the Gaza Strip. Abbas was rather aspiring to improve his Arab, regional and international relations, in an attempt to reinvigorate the peace process, which became at a great risk.

Abbas left Gaza without supervision or help, and his ministers in Gaza were waiting a call from him to resume their work, except for some ministers who shyly resumed some of their responsibilities. The claim was that the ministries they are supposed to work at didn’t welcome them, while the truth was otherwise. Thanks to the donor countries, 50% of the reconstruction process of the Gaza Strip has been accomplished.

The consensus government no longer acted as a national unity government.

During this difficult situation, there was a committee that used to be acting before to run the Gaza Strip, and we thought of reactivating it, by giving it more power to better coordinate between the work of various ministries, and to avoid mistakes made due to the absence of this committee.

What is going on now is that the PLC, the only legal body in the Palestinian arena, is considering reactivating this committee, at a time even the national consensus that allowed Abbas to be a president after the end of his presidential term has come to an end. Hamas is trying, by all possible means, to re-establish national relations, reactivate previous agreements, and at the same time, better maintain the relationship between various minsters for the interest of the people of Gaza.

This made the PLC intervene so that it could bring the government accountable, and pass necessary legislations to bridge the existing gaps between the people and the government, under the umbrella of law.

Saying the committee is a new government is not true and the evidence is that any minister can come from Ramallah to Gaza to resume his responsibilities and this governmental committee will be of help.

Is the work of the committee an alternative to the national unity government?

It is a governmental administrative committee and thus it does not hinder the work of various ministries, but rather coordinates between them.

Exaggeration about this issue by Fatah and the PA is pre-planned, and it aims at diverting attention from the ongoing protest against persecuting Palestinian martyr Bassel Al-Araj, by shedding light on this committee, which has been in existence for two years.

They want to show to the Americans and Israelis that they don’t want Gaza. This move came after Abbas announced his dictatorial plan to hold local elections in the West Bank only.

We assure all that the committee is not a government. It is necessary to improve the relationship between people and ministries, and to save money and time, and it is not a government and it has not claimed to be so.

Did you acquaint Palestinian factions to the work of this committee?

Definitely. We invited them to participate in the committee. We told them all should assume their responsibilities. The country should not be left to the desires of an unbalanced person. Abbas does not love Gaza and he does not want it, and all factions know this.

We told the Palestinian factions that all should be involved in rescuing Gaza from the chaos of management and resources. But Palestinian factions refrained from participation for one reason or another, claiming they don’t want to be part of any conflict and division.

What about Hamas’s new document? When will it be announced? What will it contain?

It is a document, which is similar to documents that Hamas always issues, being a dynamic and a vital Movement, which looks, within the frame of national constants, into a lasting discourse to manage the conflict with the Zionist entity, and to avoid the language that could be misinterpreted by some parties. Thus, the Movement decided to draft this new document to clarify various social, political and cultural issues adopted by the Movement, to avoid being negatively criticized by some parties due to the lack of clarity of some points and terms.

The document was written by the high-ranking leadership of Hamas and was given to language experts to revise it, as well as to experts in law and international humanitarian law, to bridge all gaps. It was written in an excellent political manner, and was presented to political experts to avoid the existence of any gap.

This document is now being translated into various important world languages, to avoid being mistranslated later. We have learnt from history and our modern reality that some people could play with words, changing their real meaning. An example of this is the UN Resolution 242, which was intentionally mistranslated. We should be careful.

After the end of the translation, the document will be printed and announced in a press conference, to outline the pillars of the vision of the Movement.

Some people say the document will assert Hamas’s independence from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Movement acceptance of a state on 1967 boundaries. Is this true?

I don’t want to talk about the content of the document before it gets published. Every single word in it has a meaning. We will let the document speak for itself. It will be available for people to read in a matter of a few days or weeks, but it will contain all valuable, moral, social, and intellectual constants. The document will be extremely precise leaving no shadow of doubt.

How do you describe the political situation at a time the relationship between Hamas and Fatah sees no change? Is there any meeting in the near future?

Our relationship with Fatah is summed in the fact that we are partners in this homeland whether we like it or not. No one can deny this reality. Fatah exists in the West Bank and Hamas exists in Gaza. Yet, Fatah is suffering from political confusion at the moment and tries to repress and isolate Hamas as requested by the Americans and the Israelis. At the same time, Hamas is trying to extend its hand for Fatah to achieve unity. We think this phase will come to an end and unity will be achieved.

Hamas and Fatah will continue to be partners. Fatah is living a serious leadership crisis, as its current leadership does not even recognize some Fatah leaders, let alone Hamas. Fatah leadership is surrounded by a group of bad people to whom they only listen. This group of people does not care about national values and only wants to satisfy the Americans and the Israelis.

This situation can’t unify the Palestinian people. Fatah is completely weak that it can’t even say no, and everyone says no in Fatah gets kicked out. Abbas is issuing all types of decrees, kicking people out of Fatah, whenever he wants. Fatah is responsible for this situation as everyone is looking for his own personal interests.

How do you describe the relationship with Egypt and is there any update regarding this relationship?

All know that Hamas has declared more than once its respect for Egypt. Hamas does not intervene in the internal affairs of Egypt. What some Egyptian media outlets, with the help of certain quarters within the Palestinian Authority, is trying to promote aims at distorting the image of Hamas. We said we would not allow for our relationship with the Egyptian people to deteriorate. Egypt was not ready to listen to our proposals, as there were soaring media campaigns against us. The siege and closure have been further tightened.

However, recently some meetings took place between Hamas and Egyptian security officials. They listened to us through the many Hamas delegations that visited Egypt and we discussed all issues with them. We have told them that we don’t have extra power or time to intervene in the internal Egyptian affairs. We told them that we exert considerable efforts to keep the border area between Gaza and Egypt safe and that we will not allow anyone who wants to harm Egypt to cross the border and do so.

The Egyptian side seemed more flexible and willing to fix this relationship and to improve the situation in the Gaza Strip and at the Rafah crossing. We have heard promises of establishing a free trade zone and a power plant to provide the Gaza Strip with what it needs. This will allow for the closure of tunnels when borders are open around the clock. We have seen seriousness from the Egyptian party this time and we hope that this plan gets implemented as soon as possible.

The PA is concerned because of the Egypt-Gaza relationship, how do you see this?

What the PA practices and wishes is against the Gaza Strip, because it does whatever satisfies the Israeli occupation, which does not want to see a stable Gaza.

The occupation wants to weaken Gaza and to keep it suffering from a dire humanitarian situation. Any attempt to lift the siege will be foiled by the Israeli occupation.

How do you evaluate al-Quds Intifada?

The ongoing al-Quds Intifada is an expression of anger by the Palestinian masses against the Zionist plans to divide al-Aqsa Mosque and an expression of anger against the security coordination between the PA and the Israeli occupation. Palestinians used all means to resist the occupation. Yet, the PA and the Israeli occupation repressed them.

Mahmoud Abbas went on with receiving Israeli delegations without any respect to the feelings of the families of Palestinian martyrs. The Intifada goes up and down and every time it is surprising all.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

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