All the founders of Fatah  except Yasser Arafat  were registered members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Their decision  in 1957 to establish Fatah was out of enthusiasm motivated by their Islamic creed and their notion of the ummah. They had a dispute with the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood at the time, because the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood thought that liberating Palestine…. If you spoke about liberating Palestine in 1957 you meant liberating what the world today calls Israel. The West Bank and Gaza had not yet been occupied in 1948. That happened ten years later.
The Muslim Brotherhood who had a very bitter experience in 1948 having tried to prevent the creation of the state of Israel but having been undermined by the Arab governments of the day came to the conclusion that such a jihad project was very unlikely to succeed if you did not have the support of  regional or international powers – some regional player you can rely on.
These zealots within the Muslim Brotherhood, including  including Hamid Al Wazir , Saleh  Khalaf,  Khalid Hassan and many others decided ‘no’. Palestine is an issue that to us that deserves  sacrifice and we want to form an organization. Their ambition at the time was to draw as many members of the Muslim Brotherhood to the newly founded organization which they called Fatah. Fatah is a word that comes from the Qur’an.
What we see today is not a conflict of projects. It is not even an ideological conflict. It is a very complex phenomenon. Yet despite its complexity it is by no means unique to the Palestinian struggle. In every liberation project the occupying power seeks to divide and isolate an elite within the oppressed population in order to weaken the struggle and if possible use that isolated elite for its own purposes.
That is exactly what happened. If you speak to people in Fatah today and if they speak their mind they will tell you Palestine is  every inch of land, from the river to the sea. From the north to the south. Not very much different from what Hamas would say.
However due to the political turmoil which ensued immediately after the success of  Fatah in taking over the PLO, the elite in control of Fatah  came to the conclusion that an Islamic agenda was impossible – was not practical. Not only  would they not be able to gain the support of governments in the region, it would provoke the entire world to mobilize against them.
The takeover of the PLO was the beginning of demise of Fatah in my opinion because   the PLO as a huge umbrella was susceptible to all sorts of infiltrations. So you had all sorts of people coming into it from different backgrounds. So you had so many factions and each faction  received support from a certain Arab or non Arab power.  The Baath of Iraq had a faction, the Baath of Syria had a faction the Egyptians had a faction.  Fatah under the leadership of Yasser Arafat tried to maintain some sort of overall control  through funding, through various means.
What I am trying to say to you is that the deviation from the original purpose for which Fatah was formed was the very reason why Hamas came into existence.  December 1987 saw the birth of Hamas out of the intifadah. This is by no means a suggestion that the intifadah was the work of Hamas or the work of a certain group. It was a spontaneous reaction to oppression to the  accumulation of humiliation.
That coincided with a decade or preparations by the Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine who in 19576 refused to join the Fatah national liberation movement to struggle for the liberation of Palestine because they felt they needed a lot more time to rebuild Palestinian society.
I think  1969 the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was the greatest blessing for the Palestinians. That might sound a bit strange but it opened up Palestine before the Palestinians. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza could travel for the first time to the West Bank, to Nazareth, to Haifa to all these places which used to be completely separate.
Palestinians from the areas occupied in 1948 could go to Gaza or to Hebron, my home town or to  Nablus to learn and to study Islam. In 1967 an Islamic revival took place. It was not confined to Palestine. That was the time that an Islamic revival was taking place in Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco and even here in Europe. It as a global  phenomenon but it had its own reasons in each region.
For  Palestine the main reason was the defeat of Arab nationalism. It was  blessing in disguise because for the first time it enabled the Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine to implement their social reform projects.
The Israelis at the time were not very fussy. They built mosques, centres, charitable organizations, clinics.  The national secular movement which Fatah had become was concentrating  on fighting the Israelis, getting out actual military operations. The Muslim Brotherhood  was concentrating on rehabilitating Palestinian society in the way they thought best.
From 1967 to 1977 a decade of rehabilitation, from 1977 to 1987 a decade of preparation for the launch of a national liberation movement, even during those early days as a alternative to the defunct, lost Fateh movement. Many people who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood at the time experimented with Fateh. It was a very attractive platform for the Palestinians, it had a very good reputation initially  and Yasser Arafat was thought of truly as the leader of the Palestinian people. But gradually this stopped.
Signs of the emergence of an alternative, of a competitor in Palestine started appearing in the early 80s probably as early as 1976 – 1977. That was the time when the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza established the Islamic complex or the Islamic Center under the leadership of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and soon after opened the Islamic university, one of the  largest institutions belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and also one of the most authoritative academic and cultural  institutions in Palestine – even in the region as a whole.
That was the time when trouble started occurring. Not as we saw it in the past few weeks,  people had very few e weapons. They used knives rather than machine guns at the time. There were  street battles, there were quarrels, violence was used occasionally. So very clearly Palestinian society could see trends: an Islamic trend led by the Muslim Brotherhood and a splinter group from the Muslim Brotherhood which came to be the Islamic Jihad. Fathi Shikaki who formed  Islamic Jihad was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood originally. He left in the late 70s and in the early 80s he joined up with elements of some Islamists  in Fatah and formed Islamic Jihad.
These two conflicting trends continued to compete at that moment. The declaration or the proclamation of Hamas in 1987 was the loudest alarm bell to be sounded yet. I personally believe that is why we ended up having Madrid in 1991  and Oslo in 1993. The shift or the coming out of the closet into the open about peace making with the Israelis was primarily provoked by fears that Hamas was likely to take over and that is why one of the main stipulations of the Oslo Agreement was to curtail the resistance under whatever slogan.
We saw from 1994 when the Palestinian Authority was established until about 1998 a series of persecutions, repressions  by the emerging Palestinian Authority which was  allowed to have as many as 40,ooo police members and was  empowered by those who blessed the peace process at the time so that it could fulfill its part of the agreement.
I don’t have time to go through the various stages when conspiracies and plots were hatched against Hamas in order to undermine it from the first mass detentions of 1988, to the second mass detentions of 1989 and then the deportation of 400  leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 1992. This  series of persecutions were intended to uproot the movement or at least weaken it beyond functionality.
But every time Hamas was hit, it came out stronger  more poplar and more credible in the eyes of the majority of the Palestinians. Of course you may consider luck to be part of it. We Muslims have a slightly different way of looking at it. We call it the theory of tadafa of nature that God created, the  continuous struggle between the various conflicting powers so that there would be no more stagnation in the life of humanity. A  continuous dynamism  is what  enabled Hamas in many instances to turn a tragedy into a major gain.
Even the assassination of its top leaders from as early as Salah Shahada even earlier, Ayash, the to political leadership such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Rantesi. These were sacrifices  that gained the movement great rewards.
I think eventually something happened within Fatah that created another opportunity for Hamas and that is the realization on the part of  Yasser Arafat that all the concessions that he made had been in vain.  The landmark here, the turning point was the Camp David Summit which  ended in total failure and Yasser Arafat came back to Ramallah and the intifadah started, Sharon came to power. Then Yasser Arafat was put under siege, boycotted by his own partners in the peace process. Many  many Palestinians believed he was  poisoned or killed somehow.
That meant that whatever Hamas was saying was proven right. Hamas had been vindicated. So morally speaking Hamas was proven right. The line taken by the elite in Fatah that took it away from its original course was totally wrong and erroneous and did not  bring the Palestinians much.
To cut a long story short, the decision on the part of the  United States to allow elections to take place in Palestine is, as you now know, greatly regretted because they  thought it was highly unlikely that Hamas would win, but Hamas won and that put them in a real predicament – what to do afterwards?
Then comes in the role of the that elite which I started my talk with. The elite that had become entrenched within its own self interests. We are no longer  talking about a national liberation movement, we are no longer talking about the objective of liberating Palestine and delivering the Palestinians from their misery. We are talking about becoming a VIP, becoming rich, becoming  an investor, becoming a partner and taking advantage of opportunities around the world.
And regrettably it was Yasser Arafat who started it. But he thought he could keep control. But it got out of hand. He regretted this enormously just before he died because he could see that it was this empire of corruption that he allowed to be built that was eventually bringing  about  his own demise. The people around him who were given so much power were the ones who became the Zionist camp within the Palestinian.
I am not saying this because I hate their guts but this is a fact. When you end up guarding and protecting the best interests of Israel rather than the best interests of your own people and when you agree to become part and parcel of a war that is launched by the USA and its allies against those who won the election legitimately in 2006 then that is the only reasonable  categorization that one can find for them.
A series of  endeavours were made. First of all Hamas was told go it alone. Hamas said okay we have won but we are not really a sovereign state, an independent state so we need to work together. Let us form a national unity government. Hamas said this right from the start  The Americans  said nobody should be allowed to work with Hamas. If you work with Hamas you will be on the black list and Fatah took this position and decided not to work with Hamas.
Hamas went ahead and formed a government. They started  instigating a series of industrial actions, strikes  in the educational and health sectors  in particular. These were the two sectors that were targeted because they wanted to  hurt the people. They thought that the people  might rise and leave Hamas. But the majority of people did not leave Hamas. Civil society in Palestine  took over and we saw families and clans coming to the hospitals and the clinics, talking to the medical staff, talking to teachers and saying we are prepared to raise to funds for you if Hamas cannot pay you. There were many projects like this in the West Bank and Gaza.
This hasn’t worked, the sanctions were imposed. Eventually they decided that if you cannot beat them, join them. Lets form a national unity government they said, but according to the conditions of the quartet. Hamas refused the conditions of the quartet and the other endeavour used was to start instigating civil strife. This started as early as 2006. You do not who is attacking, who is killing and with the sort of lawlessness that prevailed long before Hamas came to power everybody thought this was merely an extension of what was going on.
Actually it wasn’t. It was designed, it was deliberate, intended to provoke a civil war. Hamas exercised self restraint to the best of its ability until  the Saudis intervened. We ended up with the Mecca talks, Mecca agreements which led to the formation of the national unity government.
The national unity government would have worked and would have  been the remedy for Palestinian ailments but the primary objective the Dahlainis was to derail that project, make it impossible for that project to work.
If you form a national unity government and it is not unreasonable to expect that various ministries will have to be in charge of the various sectors of services. Policing should have been the duty of the interior ministry. The security services were told not to listen, obey or receive instructions from the government and whenever the minister wanted to visit one of these security agencies he was threatened that he would be shot. This is just crazy. It was happening.
Not only that. Alan Johnston who was freed this morning was abducted by a group that was protected by the Dahlan. And the reason for abducting Alan Johnston and the reason for kidnapping foreigners is to enhance this image that this government was not  delivering, it could not deliver and as a result the world would have to interfere.
That was not a local decision. It was a joint American – Israeli decision. It was implemented by the elite who decided to turn the project from a national liberation into a personal enterprise.
I want to conclude by explaining what happened over the past couple of weeks because the picture is not very clear yet. What happened in Gaza. Did Hamas plan this all along. How come they collapsed so quickly? All this funding, all this training, all the weapons? Hamas decided  especially after the failure of the efforts made with Mahmoud Abbas to bring pressure to bear on the commanders of the security agencies in Gaza to deliver to the government.
Hamas decided that if  provocations continued it had the right to exercise self defense. Some of the things that happened. People would be killed because they had beards. A woman would be abused in the street because she had a head cover. They were deliberately provoking people. They wanted people to fight back. It is not just that people wanted to show they were powerful. They wanted the other side to come back and fight. They killed  several imams, several scholars, attacked mosques, threw people  from the top  of towers.
They were accusing Hamas of doing this but now we have all the documents, all the evidence that it was  some elements in Fatah that were doing that. So Hamas decided that whenever there is an attack like this we will respond. Respond to that particular  attack, not an overall sweeping attack.
In the second week of June the provocations increased dramatically and as a result  Ezidine Al Kasam brigades moved in and as they moved in they were shocked to discover that the recruits of the security agencies were surrendering group after group.  This was the shock. It was a shock for Hamas, it was a shock for everybody. The reason for this was that many of the heads of the security agencies had already left and in a tribal society like Palestine relatives were calling their cousins and asking them what are you fighting for? Are you liberating Jerusalem? Lay down your weapons and go home. People  were calling each other and saying this.
An  increasing number of posts were surrendering. A  messages came from the office of Mahmoud Abbas to the police force. The  police force was not under attack, which was not involved in any of this. It was simply on one side because much of the trouble was with the presidential guard and the preventative security which was under the leadership of Mohammed Dahlan. The police received instructions to go home  and not work anymore and their salaries would come to them. As a result Hamas  found itself simply inheriting the strip.
It is like a dream. That is why the head of  Egyptian intelligence in Cairo when he met Dahlan and the chiefs of the security agencies he spoke to them in the most abusive way. You son of this, you son of that.  We gave you weapons, we gave you money, you had America behind you, you had Egypt behind you, you had the entire world behind you and then a bunch of kids from Hamas do this to you. It was unbelievable what happened.
And the other unbelievable thing is the treasure of intelligence that they left behind. In terms  of information and intelligence, espionage on every single house in Gaza. Even Fatah leaders were being spied on. Their telephone calls were being tapped, their mobiles. Records of all this. Not only that. A huge archive of top officials in the most obscene of positions for blackmail. Dahlan had a series of shales on the coast and whoever  was there would somehow be invited there and whatever they did was on camera. It was  either the top officials themselves, in some cases their wives.
Additionally there were files on the Arab countries. This was a huge espionage operation  in the sense of the Israelis spying on the Arabs. That is why Hamas promised that every Arab country would be given the file concerning them. And this was one reason why the Egyptians changed their position vis ad vis what is happening in Gaza.
Initially Mubarak said Abbas is legitimate and we are with Abbas. He moved the diplomatic mission from Gaza to Ramallah. He convened  the Sharm Al Sheikh summit, invited Abbas, King Abdullah and then in the summit he shocked everybody by saying that dialogue is the only way forward. There were a number of reasons why the Egyptians changed their position but one of them was exposure or the revelations made to them by Hamas of what Dahlan and his group were doing. Some of the Egyptians knew about it already because they were supporting them but when this comes out into the open it can have devastating effects.
We are not talking here about two  different schools of thought about two different projects, two different ideologies. We are talking about the success of the Israelis institutionalizing collaboration. Right from the beginning the Israelis created collaborators within Palestinian society and the Palestinians had to deal with them, During the first intifadah they even executed them. When Oslo was signed one of the stipulations was that Palestinians collaborating with Israel would not be harmed. Many of them were then  integrated into the security agencies, into the various  institutions created as a result of Oslo. And we ended up with a entire  edifice that was working not for Palestine but for Israel.
It is a very sad story, a very painful one for the Palestinians to talk about but this is the reality  and I think  the Israelis, by doing so, have committed a series of grave abuses of human rights: blackmailing, abusing, luring, using drugs, sex, money in order to turn a section of  Palestinian society into an agency working for them.
So where do we go from here? It depends very much on what the world does. Hamas has done its bit. It has cleansed Gaza and it has said and insisted  that this was ont a war against Fatah, it was not a war against Mahmoud Abbas. It was a war against collaborators who were corrupting Palestinian society. And Hamas was ready to go back and work with Abbas in accordance with the Mecca agreement. Abbas has refused. And although the Saudis and the Egyptians have been asking him to come back to the table he seems to have more confidence in the Americans who have told him ‘don’t talk to Hamas anymore’.
Not talking to Hamas anymore would be a great mistake. This is something that the Europeans and the Americans have to realize. Hamas is a major player and a reality that cannot be ignored. And if we are ever to deal with this crisis in the Middle East, in Palestine in particular we must talk to Hamas.
Are they likely to  publish the Palestinians further? It is possible of course. Gaza is  a very small strip of land. It is a big prison and the people can be punished. Yesterday Abbas started this punishment. By deciding to give salaries only to those who work for  Fatah and nobody else could receive salaries.
But I can assure you that this will not work. Palestinians have endured punishment before. The sanctions have been in place. They did not work. They haven’t broken the resolve of the Palestinians. It is hoped that wise minds somewhere in the world, in the West will start considering a fresh approach to solving the problem in the Middle East  rather than insisting because they have the power, they have the money they can simply stop on other people and that is the end of the story.

If you step on other people, treat them badly, they will explode in your face. And if the Gaza Strip is further punished, if it is further squeezed it is going to explode in the face of the world and the suffering will not be confined to the people who are living within the borders.  I will stop here as you may want to raise some issues.

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