By Tariq Alhomayed
According to what was reported by Israeli Army Radio a few days ago, a delegation of experts and engineers affiliated to Hamas’s so-called government in Gaza visited Israel in secret around two and a half months ago “with the goal of benefiting from Israel expertise in the field of wastewater treatment and turning this into potable drinking water.” For its part, Hamas quickly denied this, which was expected and something that we have gotten used to from previous secret visits to Israel, particularly as there have been many such visits. The director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility in Gaza confirmed that this visit did indeed take place, however he denied that it took place in secret confirming instead that the visit took place as a result of direct coordination between [the Palestinian] experts and engineers and the World Bank, in its position as a financier that requested that [the Palestinians] be given the appropriate water treatment expertise.

Away from the controversy of whether this visit took place in secret or not, let us hope that Hamas took advantage of this in order to learn something other than sanitation expertise. We hope that the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated movement learnt how enmity can unite rather than divide, and how Israel – despite its decades long conflict with the Arabs following its occupation of Arab lands – has never said “there is no sound greater than the sound of battle” and has not disrupted elections, and that there has never been a coup in Israel like Hamas’s Gaza Coup, and that Israel has not betrayed its politicians against one another despite the political disputes and financial scandals there, the most recent of which was the [Ehud] Olmert scandal.

If Hamas learnt this during its visit to Israel it would be most beneficial, as for talk about sanitation and teaching its experts, this is a luxury, for the people of Gaza cannot even find what they need to eat in the harsh conditions that they are living under.

It is well known that having an enemy unites a people and makes them more alert, except in the case of the Palestinians, for having an enemy has fragmented them, and they have also contributed to this division themselves. We have never heard about a coup in a country that is struggling and fighting to establish itself on the ground, or about a power struggle between people who have no power to fight over, or a campaign where both Palestinian sides accuse the other of treason at the same time that the Arabs despair of the Palestinians ever resolving their problems for themselves. The Palestinian leadership has not recognized that the priority of all Arab countries is their own welfare, i.e. the welfare of their own citizens, and that at the end of the day the Palestinian Cause is not receiving attention.

Therefore it is best for Hamas today to take advantage of the circumstances and take the initiative in reconciling with their Palestinian brothers, and this is better than fragmentation and playing games with regards to inter-Palestinian reconciliation. We are facing new historic circumstances today as the Americans are more convinced than ever that their national security interests are tied to resolving the Arab – Israeli conflict, and there is a genuine crisis between Washington and Tel Aviv, not to mention the international position towards Israel.

Therefore it is up to Hamas to put the interests of the Palestinian citizens first and take the initiative to find a solution and resolve the inter-Palestinian division in the same manner that the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated movement took the initiative to take up arms against the Palestinian Authority and allowed itself to become a tool in the hands of Iran and Syria and others. Hamas is in trouble in Gaza, however if it seeks reconciliation and takes the initiative to put an end to the status quo there, it will have done a big favor for itself and the Palestinian Cause, and this may help in cleaning up the movement’s bad reputation.