Thursday, May 10, 2012
It is said that whoever controls the purse strings controls the organization. In Hamas, that change apparently means that Ismail Haniyeh (on the left) has trumped Khaled Mashaal.
Haaretz has published an article by Avi Issacharoff that reports Haniyeh now has the purse in Gaza, as well as the authority to rule. While Mashaal kept some of his titles, he now is more of a figurehead regarding Gaza.
From our perspective this could bode well for Israel, though not perhaps, for Fatah in Ramallah.
Here’s what we mean: For the past months Hamas has been a restraining hand in attacking Israel. That sounds peculiar in light of the fact that last month nearly a hundred rockets hit in the coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, as well as the Eschol Regional area (we reported on this).
That it was not Hamas’ doing seems fairly clear. And eventually the leadership in Gaza City did curb it.
Now the Gaza leadership has gone from Mashaal’s control to Haniyeh’s. What will come of it is something to watch, but here’s Assacharoff’s take on it:
Meshal loses control of Hamas military wing as authority moves to Gaza leadership
Hamas denies Haaretz report on results of a secret election but senior officials confirm Ismail Haniyeh won by significant margin; Khaled Meshal expected to keep post but lose control of budget, military.
By Avi Issacharoff
Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashaal, who now resides in Qatar, is expected to keep his post after an internal vote by the organization's leadership later this month. But sources have told Haaretz that Hamas leaders have decided to transfer some of Meshal's critical areas of authority to the leadership in the Gaza Strip, including control of the organization's budget and of its military wing.
Meshal's sole control of Hamas' purse strings has effectively given him control over Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the Gaza-based military wing of Hamas. The shift that now seems to be in the pipeline is part of the reorganization of Hamas, since the movement's leadership left Damascus in the wake of the unrest in Syria. Meshal moved to Qatar, while Moussa Abu Marzouk, his deputy and one of his rivals, went to Cairo.
Other members of the movement's leadership body are now scattered among Khartoum, Istanbul, Gaza, Cairo and Doha. The Gaza Strip remains home to many Hamas militants and to its main sources of revenue, including tax collection and the smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt. Gaza has also become Hamas' main decision-making center over the past several months.
Hamas denied a recent report in Haaretz on the results of a secret election to the politburo and the Shura Council, the organization's political and decision-making council, held about three weeks ago. But senior officials in the movement have continued to confirm that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh won by a significant margin, effectively becoming the head of the movement in the Gaza Strip. The top spot has been empty since the assassination in 2004 of Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Rounding out the top three positions are Imad al-Alami, who only recently arrived in Gaza after fleeing Syria, and Khalil al-Hayeh.
Meshal's position in Hamas declined steeply after the movement's leadership in Gaza rejected the "Doha agreement," Meshal's efforts to achieve a reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO's Fatah.
These developments come as Hamas is increasingly losing the popularity contest in the West Bank to Fatah. Fatah swept the student council elections held in most of the West Bank's leading Palestinian colleges and universities in the past few weeks. The organization's candidates won in the elections to the territory's professional associations for lawyers and for engineers, and Fatah also came out ahead in the election of the association representing employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip.