No Political Address within the Hamas

(Al-Hayat) Abu Mazen: "Egyptian mediation efforts are obstructed by the absence of a political address able to make decisions within the Hamas".

The absence of a single authoritative political address within Hamas stems the movement's flexible and dynamic structure and its lack of strict hierarchy.

This structure allows Hamas to adjust itself to the changing reality by allowing different bodies within the movement to mobilize their influence.

However, this structure undermines the movement's ability to make difficult decisions on strategic issues.

For example, the issue of the kidnapped Israeli soldier concerns several elements within Hamas:

  • Hanyieh (Internal-Hamas) vs. Mash'al (External Hamas) – in general, the external leadership, lead by Mash'al, is more extremist than the Internal leadership.
  • The Political Wing vs. the Military Wing – the Hamas military wing is composed of teams, organizations and movements that are not unified in their level of affiliation with the movement.
    For example, "The Popular Resistance Committees" are Fatah dissidents, affiliated with Hamas. The "Army of Islam" is a relatively unknown organization headed by a former Hamas member, who is a dissident of the Popular Resistance Committees.
    The common grounds for the organizations are usually the loyalty to the local commanders and not necessarily their ideological-organizational affiliation. Therefore, even though the kidnapers of Gilead Shalit are affiliated with External Hamas and do not obey to Haniyeh, it does not mean they will obey Mash'al.
  • The PA Government and the Hamas Movement – Hamas leaders emphasize the distinction between the government and the movement for political reasons. (See: Who Is Required to Recognize Israel?).

Taking into account the current reality, it is difficult to find an address within Hamas with whom Israel can effectively negotiate the release of Gilead Shalit.

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