Hamas.and Sanitation

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 

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. 

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