Would Hamas finally bow to Fatah?

The Israeli government and the U.S. State Department have expressed resentment at the recent announcement of reconciliation between Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank, saying such a deal threatens the peace agreement with Israel. First, there is no peace agreement to be concerned about; there is only a framework agreement. Second, the reconciliation is not really reconciliation, but simply another maneuver within the Palestinian political camp. Third, Israel that prases Fatah and condemns Hamas often acts opposite to that.

Barak Ravid, a diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, showcased the hypocrisy of the government, saying: “Netanyahu, who squeezed (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas hard in exchange for freeing 80 pension-age prisoners who had been sitting in Israeli jails for more than 20 years and who broke up negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over the release of 14 Arab Israeli prisoners, was prepared to give Hamas 1,000 young and healthy terrorists, among them Arabs Israelis. While Netanyahu refused to allow Abbas any sign of Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank, he did not hesitate to recognize Hamas as sovereign in Gaza.”

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L) speaks with head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh as they announce a reconciliation agreement during a news conference in Gaza City April 23, 2014. (Reuters)

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L) speaks with head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh as they announce a reconciliation agreement during a news conference in Gaza City April 23, 2014. (Reuters)

Hamas does not threaten the Israeli government as much as the Palestinian authority in Ramallah does; Hamas has always been involved in sabotaging the agreements, and thus giving Netanyahu the justification to escape all international obligations, citing Hamas’ empty rockets. Hamas is the enemy ally of Tel Aviv, while Ramallah’s government only represents the oppressed partner.

Celebrity marriage

Although the reconciliation agreement is the best thing we have heard for years in Palestine, it is most likely similar to a marriage of celebrities: an extravagant ceremony followed shortly by divorce.

Although the reconciliation agreement is the best thing we have heard for years in Palestine, it is most likely similar to a marriage of celebrities: an extravagant ceremony followed shortly by divorce

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

It is normal for Netanyahu’s government not to welcome the reconciliation, as it has worked hard to keep the Palestinians away from it.

What is baffling is the U.S. Department of State’s resentment. The reconciliation is in favor of any negotiation project, because Hamas will publically be agreeing on it, after claiming for many years that negotiations were blasphemous and after threatening to sabotage any negotiation process.

I am afraid that the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is just a part of a game of internal conflict, and does not have anything to do with endorsing the negotiations with Israel, or organizing the Palestinian interior.

Leadership brawl

Hamas is witnessing a leadership brawl and Fatah is busy with its internal conflicts, like the incident when former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan irritated Abbas with his calls for presidential elections. I wish that the Palestinian government in Ramallah was strong enough to put an end to the division and bring Gaza under its authority especially that Hamas has lost all the friends who were behind its defection from the 2007 Makkah agreement, such as Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, and especially after the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Palestinians hold national flags as they celebrate after an announcement of a reconciliation agreement in Gaza City April 23, 2014.  (Reuters)

Palestinians hold national flags as they celebrate after an announcement of a reconciliation agreement in Gaza City April 23, 2014. (Reuters)

There are factions within Hamas that really want to return to power, and accept resorting to the Palestinian people to choose their government. But these factions have always been afraid of leaders controlled by Tehran and Damascus. Does this fear still prevail today? I do not think so. The problem is that the Palestinian Authority is weak, drained and close to collapse. Thus, it cannot negotiate or commit to any agreement.

The negotiations will force President Abbas to provoke people who will not accept to make any more concessions. If he refuses to comply, he will be penalized by depriving his government from the financial aid coming from Israel and the United States, which are much needed to run his government’s affairs.

 

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 25, 2014
 

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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