Hamas’ Primaries

Hamas movement declared the end of the first stage of its primaries as its Consultative Councils and administrative commissions in the local areas were elected. On Friday, February 26, the second stage should begin. The Legislative Councils and administrative commissions in the territories along with the members of the Political Bureau and Consultative Council members of each region will be elected.

The movement is holding its elections in four areas: The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, abroad and in prisons. Although these primaries are held every four years, they are held this year at a critical time. It reflects the movement’s unity and strength before heading to the elections, and gives the members the chance to select their representatives in the elections while maintaining a strong internal structure.

It was leaked that Hamas’ leader Yahya Sinwar and Ismael Haniya, Chief of its Political Bureau, may continue to occupy the same positions.

There have recently been talks on Khaled Mashal’s return to the race for the Chief of the Political Bureau position because of the international relations and mature political insight he has. If Mashal wins, the situation would change and issues, such as the Palestinian reconciliation, could be resolved. Mashal had promised to achieve the reconciliation, and reinforce the movement’s reputation regionally and internationally with the help of his large network.

Even if its leadership changes, Hamas’ position on the national issues will, most likely, remain the same. The tools and strategies of its leaders (be it Khaled Mashal, Ismael Haniya or Saleh Al-Arouri) may vary, but its vision and ideology will not.

The reconciliation issue, for instance, was adopted by the current Political Bureau, headed by Haniya, and it reached an advanced stage. Haniya succeeded in strengthening the ties among the Palestinian groups, especially the Gaza Strip, and in presenting it actively both regionally and internationally. Regarding some countries’ positions on the movement, they are not based on opinions in certain figures. 

Hamas’ holding of elections amidst such circumstances could result in refreshing its structure which would, at a Palestinian level, achieve the following:

  1. Give privilege to Hamas because unlike other Palestinian factions, it would be able to mix all of its internal diverse positions on national issues and international relations in one pot.
  2. Run for the elections as a united front with one list against Fatah which suffers from internal disputes and will have multiple lists.

Hamas’ priorities at internal and external levels are as follows:

Internally,

  1. Achieve the Palestinian reconciliation.
  2. Win seats in the legislative elections and the National Council at a rate that represents its popularity in the community.
  3. Revive the resistance project in the occupied West Bank to protect the rights of the Palestinians and defend the holy sites.
  4. Break the siege and reinforce the Palestinian people’s steadfastness.

Externally,

  1. Strengthen its relations with regional countries and restore its popularity in the Arab arenas, from which it was removed.
  2. Influence the EU’s position on its relations with the movement.

Hamas’ new leaders would be facing these challenges:

  1. The Normalization agreements.
  2. Attempts to make it submit politically or to terminate it with an aggression when failing to remove it from the political scene.

Finally, although there is criticism about the process, moving forward with it is an achievement for the movement because it contributes to the unity of its structure and activation of its organizational commissions. It also qualifies it to succeed Fatah, which appears to be heading to further disparity and disconnectedness. Nevertheless, the movement will suffer from attempts to remove it for contradicting the programs of the ‘Israeli’ occupation, the American Administration and some Arab regimes.

Source : PALM Strategic Initiatives Centre