If Hamas Is Removed From Power, Who Will Lead The Palestinians In Gaza?
Israel has vowed to “destroy Hamas”, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that launched a surprise attack on Israel early on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people and taking many more hostage. But it’s also the entity that controls the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Israel’s neighbours have warned a ground war would claim several more innocent lives and displace even more of the impoverished territory’s roughly 2.3 million people from their homes. But there is another concern. If Hamas is removed from power, who will replace it?
Hamas And Fatah – Two Palestinian Political Parties
Gaza and the much larger, Israeli-occupied West Bank are the two primary Palestinian enclaves. But they are run separately. Hamas – designated a terror organisation by the US and many other countries – and Fatah are the two major Palestinian political parties.
In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, signed the Oslo Accords that established limited self rule under a new entity called the Palestinian Authority (PA), for Palestinians in the two territories.
2006 elections saw Hamas winning a majority of seats in the PA legislature. But its political rivals of the Fatah faction refused to accept the outcome. Fighting erupted in Gaza, creating a break between the two territories. By 2007, Hamas was already running the coastal enclave.
Fatah has continued managing the West Bank through the Palestinian Authority. There hasn’t been a legislative election for Palestinians in either enclave since 2006 and PA President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold a vote that should have taken place in 2021.
Could Gaza and West Bank Reunite? Best Path Forward?
Some suggest the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority could take over. But Sabri Sidam, the deputy secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee, told CBS News that would not happen without an election. “We will not be going on an Israeli tank to rule Gaza.”
Sidam said violence was an inevitable consequence of the failure to create a two-state solution, with an independent state for both Israelis and Palestinians. Hani Al-Masri, director general of Masarat, said he believes the best path forward is for Gaza and the West Bank to be reunited.