Hamas’ Gaza strongman criticizes Khalid Meshal
Gaza / London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Differences and clashes within the Hamas movement have come to light for the first time, with Hamas senior figures verbally sparring and exchanging criticism in the media. This is particularly surprising as Hamas is known for the discipline of its cadres and members.
In an interview carried by the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper on Tuesday, Zahar criticized the statements made by Hamas leader Khalid Meshal on 4 May in Cairo during the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Zahar said that Khalid Meshal did not have any right to say that Hamas would give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas another chance to try to negotiate a peace deal with Israel.
In the interview, Zahar reportedly said “we didn’t know and were not consulted about the position of Khalid Meshal, and this is not the correct position.” He added “we haven’t given any chance for negotiations on behalf of us or the Palestinian people. Our program is against negotiations in this way, because they are a waste of time.”
Zahar was also quoted as saying that the Hamas power structure should be re-assessed as “the leadership is here [in the Gaza Strip], and the part (of Hamas) that is abroad is just a part of that.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hamas political bureau member Izzat al-Rashaq, commented on the criticisms put forward by Dr. Zahar, stressed that these statements do not represent the position of the Hamas movement.
Al-Rashaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the statements made by brother Zahar are wrong, and do not represent the position of the Hamas movement or any of its institutions. They represent a violation of the organizational traditions followed by Hamas, and are not worthy of being issued against the leader or leadership of the Hamas movement.” He added that “Dr. Zahar is not authorized to comment on the statements made by the leader of the Hamas movement…the political bureau is the only institution that is authorized to issue any clarification or explanation on the statements issued by the leadership.”
Despite his strong statements, Izzat al-Rashaq denied that Zahar’s statements reflect a state of disagreement or division within Hamas, stressing that “there is no disagreement within Hamas, the movement is highly united, and its decisions are one.”
Senior Hamas official Dr. Salah al-Bardawil confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Hamas movement is united, saying that some media outlets are trying to convince the public that there is division within the ranks of Hamas. Al-Bardawil also stressed that Hamas figures have the right to issue their statements using whatever language they wish so long as they are expressing their own views and ideas, and this does not mean that there is a split in the Hamas movement’s decision.
Dr. Bardawil also stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas is under the leadership of Khalid Meshal, adding that Hamas is a resistance movement that believes that resistance is the means of liberating Palestine, especially after it has became clear to everybody that “it would be a terrible gamble to bet on these futile negotiations.”