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‘Zero probability’ Hamas will disarm amid Palestinian unity efforts

Grant Rumley
30th November 2017 - Quoted by Adam Abrams - Jewish News Service

As Hamas’s decade-long rule of the Gaza Strip nears its presumed end, the Palestinian terror group has defied calls to disarm and has vowed to move its battle against Israel to Judea and Samaria. But experts say that Gaza’s impending power transfer as well as Hamas’s threat are both unlikely to materialize.

Fatah, the political party headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, announced in October that it would reconcile with Hamas and form a unity government with its Palestinian rival. Israel and the U.S. reacted by calling on Hamas to disarm and recognize Israel.

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“We should certainly take Hamas’s threats about escalating violence in the West Bank seriously, but we should also understand that the PA and Israel have maintained a security relationship that is designed to mitigate these threats,” Grant Rumley, an expert on Palestinian politics and a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org.

“Taken in light of the recent reconciliation negotiations, Hamas’s threats are aimed at the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel, which is a deeply unpopular issue among many Palestinians,” he said.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, agreed with Rumley, telling JNS.org that Hamas’s threat is “empty” and asserting that the terror group is “not capable” of transferring weapons to Judea and Samaria.

“[Hamas] cannot do this directly through Israel,” which separates Gaza from Judea and Samaria, Brom explained.

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Brom also expressed skepticism regarding the significance of the Egyptian-brokered transition in Gaza from Hamas rule to PA control, emphasizing that there is “zero” probability of “security authority and control of the military arm of Hamas” being transferred to the PA. That reality, he said, makes “a significant change” in Israeli-Palestinian relations implausible.

Rumley concurred, saying he remains “very skeptical” of a genuine transfer of power in Gaza.

“Already we see Hamas unions blocking PA employees from resuming their duties in government ministries,” said Rumley, adding that “huge hurdles” to genuine Palestinian unity stem from long-standing “animosity” between Hamas and Fatah as well as “donor fatigue plaguing the PA.”

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Tags

fatah, hamas, palestinian-authority, palestinian-politics