Arafat seen playing the 'Hamas card': Friday 13th declared "Day of Rage II" : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Arafat seen playing the 'Hamas card'

A rare meeting of all the factions of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation has prompted the Arabic-language press to reflect on the possibilities for greater political unity among the Palestinians. The meeting, which was held in Gaza on Sunday and chaired by Yasser Arafat, was held to discuss the latest violence in the occupied territories.

It included a representative of the militant Islamic group Hamas. which generally boycotts meetings with the Palestinian Authority.


The London based Al-Hayat said in an article entitled "The Hamas Card" by Dawud Al-Sharayyan that Hamas was undoubtedly in a strong position.

It is proof that Hamas has become more than ever a political organisation


"It has an influential voice that can either inflame or calm the situation. The Palestinian Authority realises the extent of Hamas' influence on the Palestinian streets. It therefore wooed it in order to find a formula for an understanding and for controlling the situation", the paper wrote.

It said the principal reasons behind the move were not yet clear.

"Was it the Israeli danger that brought the Palestinian Authority and Hamas together? Or was this rapprochement part of a political deal to contain what is happening?"

"Regardless of the motives behind this rapprochement, it is proof that Hamas has become more than ever a political organisation seeking to strengthen its position in the occupied territories' ruling structure."

Yasser Arafat: sudden political rapprochement?

The paper said that if Hamas did eventually agree to play a political role within the Palestinian Authority, it would mean that the intifada had created "a new political situation and succeeded in accomplishing an extremely important achievement".

Israeli concern

Israel's second-largest newspaper Ma'ariv described the Gaza meeting as "a rare demonstration of national unity" among the Palestinians.

It quoted an unnamed security source as saying Israel was "concerned that the recent moves in the domestic Palestinian political scene will be 'a catalyst that will encourage Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to resume the wave of terrorist attacks in Israel'."

"Security sources explained that the embrace accorded by Arafat to the terrorist organisations can be construed by them as a 'turning of a blind eye' by the chairman and as a 'green light' to resume their murderous activity," the paper said.

According to the London-based Quds Press, Ismail Abu-Shanab, a member of the Hamas political leadership who attended the Gaza talks, said afterwards that the meeting had been the first in a series to "find formulas to confront the Israeli occupation".

"In this meeting, we also called... for mending the internal Palestinian situation", he said, without elaboration.

Mobilisation call

In a statement published on Monday, Hamas went further and called for a "general mobilisation" against Israel.

"We declare a state of maximum alert and readiness and call upon our people and Hamas members and supporters to observe general mobilisation and immediately join the popular resistance committees in every town, village, camp, university, and school."

The statement said Tuesday and Wednesday would be "days of escalation against the Zionist enemy and the settler herds in solidarity with the heroic people of Nazareth".

Thursday was described as a day of collective fasting.

The view on the streets: 'Jerusalem is Ours'

"Let Friday 13th October be a day of anger, special escalation, and massive processions from mosques after Friday prayers in defence of our holy places," the statement said.

Despite the Gaza meeting, the Hamas statement remained critical of some of the policies of the Palestinian Authority.

"We strongly denounce the new and old security agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the enemy. We also condemn the setting up of the joint operations room, which would be used only to attack the resistance and abort the Al-Aqsa Intifadah," it said.

The statement was issued a day after local leaders of Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction distributed leaflets declaring a "popular war" against Israel.

News agency reports quoted Fatah officials as saying Arafat had not been consulted about the move.

Source: BBC

-- Carl Jenkins (, October 11, 2000

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