taking another step towards establishing an entity completely separate from the Palestinian Authority?
Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad said Wednesday that his office has decided to select candidates who would make up Hamas' diplomatic staff in the Gaza Strip.
This is the first time since Hamas took over the Strip that it has taken a step in that direction. It is possible that this is another phase in a plan to completely separate the Gaza Strip from Israel
as well as the Palestinian Authority which has its political center in the West Bank.
Hamad stressed that the new cadets would work within the foreign ministry in Gaza and would be responsible for developing Hamas government relations with countries around the world.
New Hamas-Egyptian cooperation? (Photo: AP)
He noted that even if circumstances allow it, it is quite possible that members of the new diplomatic corps would start to operate in foreign countries.
Hamad stressed that the candidates' selection process would be carried out in accordance with the law on diplomatic service. At first Hamas thought that only Hamas foreign ministry employees would be able to apply but ultimately it was decided that employees from other ministries would also be eligible in order to select the best possible applicants.
The applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree and speak fluently in at least one foreign language. They will undergo courses within the foreign ministry and will also venture out to foreign countries to learn about the diplomatic work.
Yet Hamad stressed that the move was not meant to establish the disconnection between Gaza and the West Bank.
He explained that the importance that Hamas ascribed to issues of diplomacy has grown and developed over the past few years and that the movement knows that a pragmatic tie-wearing image can open doors in the western world.
Senior Hamas members went to great lengths on the matter, going so far as to meet with senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood
before the elections in Egypt
in order to advise the then candidate Mohammed Morsi to
cover himself in a patina of western manners – in a bid to convince the West that they have nothing to fear from the brotherhood.
Hamas has also been hard at work in efforts to achieve political and economic independence. For the past few months senior Hamas members have been working with Egyptian authorities in order to receive approval for the establishment of a free trade zone at the Rafah crossing.
No official affirmation has been received from the Egyptian side but Hamas has high hopes for Morsi's supportive regime. Opening a free trade zone between Egypt and Gaza would mean complete detachment from Israel and reduced dependence on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.