Peace Partner? Hamas Arrests Fatah Leaders to Stop Pro-Abbas March

Who is really in charge of the Palestinians? President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

One day before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was talking peace with Israel with United States President Donald Trump last Wednesday, his own people were highlighting how much farther peace has to go—for Palestinians and Palestinians. Security forces under the authority of Hamas—the rival political faction to Abbas’ Fatah movement and the leaders of the Gaza Strip—arrested Fatah leaders last Tuesday to prevent a march planned to support Abbas.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, citing a May 3 report from the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, several leaders were arrested and others were summoned over the previous 24 hours. The report cited Fatah secretaries who said that phone calls allegedly from the Hamas security forces let them know Fatah activities were forbidden, one day after Hamas canceled school so Gazans could rally against Abbas.

The rival factions split in 2007 when Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup. While multiple efforts at reconciliation have been attempted, the sides have never fully come back together. And now things seem to be sliding back downhill.

The Trump-Abbas joint statement didn’t mention Hamas—which as a major political force among the Palestinians and a terror group that refuses to recognize Israel, remains a huge obstacle to peace with the Jewish State.

While Trump and Abbas weren’t talking Hamas in their published joint statement, two months ago the Trump administration was discussing Gaza with the Israelis.

Realizing the dilemma posed by the terrorist organization running Gaza, the statement addressing Israel-American discussions held in late March on Middle East peace said that “the two sides agreed on the importance of implementing measures benefitting the people of Gaza,” including efforts “to bring humanitarian relief and economic development to Gaza in ways that benefit the population without further empowering Hamas or other terrorist organizations.”

But last week by arresting leaders in Abbas’ own political party, Hamas reminded the world just how powerful they already are. And that continues to complicate an already complicated effort to achieve Israel-Palestinian peace.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 6, 2017)

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