No major actor in the Middle East will go unaffected by the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 negotiators, and the Palestinians are no exception. First, the agreement will exacerbate tensions within Hamas’ military and political wings over who should benefit from Iran’s newfound sanctions relief. Second, it will embolden the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to international forums in hopes of relaunching talks, as its leaders believe their issue is the most pressing on the world’s diplomatic agenda now that the Iranian question is off of the diplomatic to-do list.
Cash-strapped Hamas has already started jockeying for more Iranian cash, with some officials praising the deal. Others have used the deal as an occasion to comment on the Hamas–Iran relationship: senior Politburo member Moussa Abu Marzouk recently complained that Iran had cut funds to the movement, while Hamas’s man in Tehran insisted that relations were strong. For Fatah’s part, officials have taken the opportunity to request that the international community now turn its attention to the Israel-Palestine issue. As Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh said, the deal is an important development but the world should now focus on “the nuclear disarmament of Israel.” Statements like these serve Fatah’s desires not only to bring international attention to its cause but also to galvanize world opinion against Israel in its search for leverage.
Palestine’s political parties both see the nuclear agreement as a precursor to freeing up sanctions relief for Iran while providing the diplomatic bandwidth for Western ambassadors to reengage the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Fatah and Hamas have vastly different ideas about where those newly liberated resources should be applied, though. And Hamas itself is divided. While members of the Politburo recently visited Saudi Arabia in the hopes of rehabilitating ties with the Kingdom, Hamas’s military wing—the Qassam Brigades—has reportedly sent emissaries to court Iran. While the Politburo officials may make the headline statements, noted, “When there’s no alternative at home, they turn to the Iranians.”
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