Interview with Aleksey Malashenko

Aleksey Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Centre joined Russia Today to comment on the latest violence outbreak in Gaza.

Russia Today: The two Palestinian factions are locked in fighting. What are the reasons behind it? Could you give us some background?

A.M.: I think this fight – this competition, I would say – began more then a year ago when Hamas won the elections and came to power. And now there is a struggle for power. This is a competition of ambitions in Palestinian Autonomy between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, the government which was headed by Hamas. Besides, there is a distinction of ideologies. Fatah are secular nationalists, who, by the way, failed in their struggle for independence, and [Hamas are] Islamists who dream about the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine.

Another thing I would like to emphasize is who is standing behind [the rivals]. We have to recognise that Mahmoud Abbas and his team are supported by the West – by the United States, by Europe. They give money to these Palestinians. Hamas is supported by Syria, by Iran and by Muslim radicals. So this is not just a competition between Palestinians themselves, but between the powers abroad.

RT: So this is a local conflict represented on a larger scale by world powers?

A.M.: Sure, I agree with you. And this creates a big danger.

RT: How is this situation likely to affect Israel? Will they look from afar simply watching?

A.M.: I think Israeli government have to keep distance, if they want to avoid being drawn into this domestic struggle. Before they could deal with the national unity government, but now they don’t know whom they could deal with. This is a problem for the president, for the prime minister, and generally for the society of Israel.

RT: How would you assess the possibility of the deployment of an international force to end hostilities in the Palestinian autonomy? How would it affect the situation?

A.M.: I don’t believe it possible because of the position of Hamas. I can’t imagine Hamas leaders, like Prime Minister Haniya, would allow anyone enter Palestinian lands, because it would make Hamas loose its control, its power and its popularity [in the region]. So I think it impossible for some foreign troops to enter Palestine.

RT: So is the only option to resolve the conflict through diplomacy? What role could Russia play in the Middle East peace process?

A.M.: The solution is in negotiations. I think in several days, or maybe several weeks, they will sign a certain agreement. But that will be done under the pressure of several foreighn powers, including Russia. Don’t forget that Russia maintains special relations with Hamas. Maybe Moscow will be able to make Hamas more moderate.