Disagreements and Confrontations within the Leadership
The political wing of Hamas consists of two bureaus, internal and overseas. Ismail Haniyah and Mahmoud Zahar and others currently lead the internal political bureau, which lies within the Palestinian territory, while the external political wing is currently controlled and led by Khalid Mashal. Since the leaders of both bureaus have lived in different circumstance and sustained different situations, differences in views were inevitable. Those experiencing the ground realities of the in the Palestinian territory and know the real hardships and sufferings of the Palestinian people have increasingly become more and more pragmatic in their views.
These issues came to surface immediately after the foundation of PA in 1994, that leadership in Gaza and the West Bank seriously started considering to make attempts to gain legal political status. This was basically due to immense pressure on the inside leadership already paralyzed by the five year imprisonment of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin. But because of 1997 unanticipated release of Yasin these considerations were subsided. These differences become prominent after the assassination of the supreme leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin and al-Rantisi. That’s the main reason that the inland leadership decided to take part in politics and elections.
Though Hamas boycotted the presidential elections in 2005, the overseas purists like Mashal and others primarily imposed the decision. The inland leadership has a feeling taking part in the elections. This is the case of Ismail Haniyah and his cabinet. On the contrary Khalid Mashal has still maintained the ideological purity of the Hamas covenant. He still insists on not recognizing Israel as a legal state. Haniyah decided to enter the PA government against Mashal’s wishes as well he also set up a truce with Israel strongly dissented by the Syrian bureu.
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Haniyah even have supported publicly Abbas’ wishes to continue peace talks with Israel, again disappointing Mashal. Hamas military wing on the other hand has its own point of view. Militants want to continue the armed struggle against Israeli occupation of the territories. They dismiss any piece talk and negotiations with Israel. They have proved their ability to exacerbate the situation by curbing any ongoing negotiations or piece talks by using their most powerful tactical weapon “suicide bombing” against Israeli targets.
Despite all these differences there is no point to deem that there is a possible split within the leadership in the current scenario. Despite all these differences both internal and overseas leadership still agree on the core issues. There is no sign of confrontation and disagreement on the liberation of the mandatory Palestinian territory with every possible way. Though the internal leadership has shown signs of supporting peace talks with Israel, they have also vowed that they will not renounce their militants until the Israel pulls backs its troops from the occupied Palestinian territories to the 1967 position.
Haniyah has clearly stated that “The Americans and the Europeans say to Hamas: Either you have weapons or you enter the legislative council. We say weapons and the legislative council. There is no contradiction between the two” This statement by the leader of Hamas led PA clearly exhibits that the nature of disagreements between the inner and outer leadership has not reached to the point of no return, thus causing a split between the two. Conclusion:
Hamas, which emerged from the firm foundation of Muslim Brotherhood, has a strong leadership, which has survived many attempts of arrests, deportations and assassinations of its leadership. The current leadership structure of the movement is a strong vertical hierarchy with a horizontal network based infrastructure in than occupied area. The militant groups or cells work locally on their own, but are required to obtain approval from the top leadership in order to carry on high level operations against sensitive Israeli targets.
Since the shifting of power in the hands of the leaders residing abroad disagreements have arisen on the issue of persisting military struggle against Israel. The local leadership has shown to be more pragmatic then the foreign. The military wing also insists on continuing armed struggle against Israeli targets. Though the differences and confrontations are present within the leadership it not likely to cause a split between it. The recent win in the parliamentary elections has not brought a radical change in the view of the leadership.Though want to continue peace talk they decline to disarm the military wing.
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