“Sabr” has been a key term in the behavior of the Hamas movement from its inception. “Sabr,” Arabic for “patience,” is one of the most important tools for anyone wishing to study the Hamas leaders’ decisions or foresee them. To form a unity government whose technocratic ministers are not subordinate to the organization’s advisory council, Hamas gave up most of its authority and all of the power centers it fought in the past to control. That same ”patience” is what enabled the movement’s leaders to agree to do so with relative ease.

Throughout the talks with Fatah, the success of which was quite surprising, Hamas managed to rebuild the bridge it had destroyed with its own hands seven years ago between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This patience was largely a tactical move, but it also had a long-term strategic effect that greatly affects the movement’s leadership. Within the framework of the new understandings, Hamas is accepting new rules that in the past were totally out of the question.

“Do you seriously think they will accept the notion of ‘one authority under one weapon’?” I asked Fatah activists who had escaped from Gaza to Ramallah by the skin of their teeth seven years ago when Hamas mounted the military coup in the Gaza Strip. The answers I got this week were unanimous and unambiguous: “They have no choice. This is a different Hamas than the one we knew in the past: mature, responsible, experienced.”[…]