Hamas is seriously contemplating severing the Gaza Strip’s economic ties with Israel, said Ahmed Yousef, a senior advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a Saturday interview with the London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat
Yousef furthermore stated that Hamas has already generated plans and proposals to unite economically with Egypt instead of Israel. According to Hamas, Egypt can serve as ‘Gaza’s gateway’ to the Arab and Muslim world and as its in-depth strategic partner.
The organization has already generated plans, likely presented to the Egyptian government during a Hamas delegation visit to Cairo last week, whereupon Egypt can supply the Gaza Strip with fuel and electricity, as well as opening the Rafah Crossing for commerce with Gaza.
“Several Arab countries have already expressed marked willingness to trade with Gaza and to fund energy export projects should Egypt prove willing,” said Yousef, noting that Hamas wants to bolster Gaza’s economy by ending its nearly absolute economic reliance on Israel.
When asked whether Hamas is also considering abandoning the use of Israeli currency in the Strip, Yousef indicated that this “might be possible in the future. Residents of Gaza can always trade in American Dollars, Jordanian Dinars or Egyptian Pounds at a later point.”
Egyptain reaction unclear, Fatah objectsIt is still unclear how Egypt plans to respond to this Hamas proposal, since this economic disengagement is by no means a quick or simple feat, especially as the Palestinian Authority has signed several binding economic accords with Israel.
The Fatah movement’s reaction to this Hamas proposal, however, was far more emphatic, and decidedly negative. A spokesman for the Fatah movement, Fahmi Al-Za'areer, stated that “Hamas’ proposal to lean on Egypt economically via the Rafah Crossing is a decided disaster, and allows Israel to sever the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, thereby dividing the (Palestinian) state as Israel has always longed to do.”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat also reported Saturday that senior Palestinian Authority officials blamed Syria for breaching the border fence between Gaza and Egypt in retaliation for Egyptian involvement in Lebanon. “What Hamas has done goes hand in hand with and the marked role that Egypt plays in Lebanon,” stated the Palestinian officials.