Palestinian reconciliation – Issues and forecast

Opinion

Palestinian reconciliation – Issues and forecast

“We return to Gaza in order to conclude reconciliation and national unity and end the painful impacts of divisions and to rebuild Gaza brick by brick.”
(PM of Palestine, Rami Hamdallah)
It is easy to lose count of the number of previous reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). This time, however, there may just be a difference and there are multiple factors that give this effort a better chance.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege for a decade under a blockade that has received tacit international support. What flows in as relief and welfare is too little and always too late! The siege has caused untold suffering by calculatingly imposing collective punishment.

Hamas is different from the PA in more ways than one. It is a resistance movement, a political movement, and a social movement- all packed into one entity. Hamas has entered three wars with Israel ever since the siege was imposed. It has, since 2014, shunned further conflagrations seeking, instead, to rebuild people’s lives.  The appetite for confrontation has given way to reconstruction and welfare.

Because Israel remains in control and there is no international pressure on it to end the cruel and illegal policy, it will abuse its power to disrupt the unity process in every possible way. Israel will simply obstruct reconciliation in any significant way. A unified Palestinian political entity terrifies Israel because it would have to face a united front in its future negotiations.

On the question of reconciliation, there remain hurdles to be crossed and none of them are easy to surmount. Hamas can claim to have more popular support in Gaza and yet there are factors weighing against it. For example, not just Egypt, wants the PA to control the Rafah Gaza-Egypt crossing but also the international community and Israel too. The idea is to box in Hamas and make it irrelevant and short of any political standing.

There is another other sticky issue. Will Hamas be willing to surrender its standing as a resistance movement? What will happen to Hamas resistance forces, their weapons, their personnel and their military hierarchy? Hamas will probably refuse to give an undertaking to the effect that its weapons will not be used to attack Israel. The PA insists that it must be the only one that can be armed.

The Oslo agreement stipulates that PA weapons are meant strictly for use against Palestinians. Hamas’, by contrast, views their weapons as a way to deter the occupier. This will be an Israeli point of contention and one that can sabotage the reconciliation. The PA will want total control over its arms. It is naïve to think that Hamas will give up its military capacity under any circumstances. Hamas will hold on to the right to resist and fight back until the occupation ends and lands are returned alongside with all final status issues being satisfactorily resolved.

Israel’s colonialist intent and agenda it is to capture as much land as possible and to dispossess Palestinians. Israel does not favour a politically strong Palestinian political entity in negotiations. Israel wants the resistance destroyed.   The larger question is: Will the international community threaten Israel with penalties if it thwarts Palestinian unity and reconciliation? Would Israel’s intransigence mean self-isolation?

Ranjan Solomon
Editor


Palestinian reconciliation: Why is it likely to succeed now?For a change, all parties concerned seem to be eager to see Palestinian reconciliation succeed. Each player has its own reasons, of course. Yet, it would not have been possible to come this far so quickly had it not been for the deepening humanitarian crisis inside the Gaza Strip and the growing predicament Hamas, which controls Gaza, finds itself in as a result. There is no doubt that the siege imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt has achieved its objectives. Life has become so unbearable that public opinion within the Strip is overwhelmingly in favour of any deal that is said to promise easing the pressure. This has prompted Hamas to express readiness to make concessions that had until recently been inconceivable.

The full extent of political concessions by Hamas and PA is unclear and the deal under discussion is shrouded in ambiguity. What is clear is that Hamas has agreed to disband its own administrative committee in charge of the Gaza Strip in a prelude to handing over control to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PNA), whose Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah arrived in the Strip. As part of the new arrangement, Hamas is expected to relinquish control over the crossings with Egypt and Israel.
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Is Hamas, Fatah rapprochement a win-win deal?

Hamas’s offer to submit to a long-delayed reconciliation process with its Fatah rivals signals that the balance of regional forces may be tipping in its favour and against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, analysts say. Hopes are that reconciliation will end a decade of bitter feuding between Hamas and Fatah – and a parallel entrenchment of territorial divisions between Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Most analysts expect the reconciliation process to fail, as previous attempts have. The biggest stumbling block is likely to be over long-promised elections. Polls suggest that Hamas would win in both Gaza and the West Bank.Source:

Palestinian reconciliation a leap toward ending region’s chaos

 In a step toward reconciliation, Gaza’s leadership welcomes the Palestinian Authority as it bids to end the dispute, release the detainees and take over the local administration. This is an important political and humanitarian deal achieved by the Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi — the first deal to succeed in 10 years. The factions inside the Gaza Strip were divided between extremists and those who are even more extreme. Trade was banned, tunnels blocked, swimming in the sea forbidden and fishermen faced restrictions. It all began when the airport, symbolizing peace and a better future, was closed. The main issue in Gaza became the status of its border crossing, and when it would open to allow humanitarian relief.

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Popular celebration in Gaza over PA reconciliation visit

The PA lead by PM Rami Hamdallah arrived through Erez Israeli checkpoint at Gaza Strip in an official welcoming and made optimistic statements in regards to the national reconciliation after 10 years of division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The cabinet held its first meeting in Gaza on Tuesday morning after which it will assume its official duty as the government in charge of the Gaza Strip. The reconciliation was facilitated three weeks ago when Hamas, the ruling party in the strip since 2007, has dissolved the administrative committee it had established in March to run Gaza affairs and agreed to turn over power to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority but the movement’s armed wing remains the dominant power in the Palestinian enclave of two million people.
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Reconciliation is the least that can be achieved

 “The conditions Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set before the Palestinians in the wake of the start of the reconciliation process and as a prerequisite to the resumption of negotiations are reminiscent of the conditions set by Israel under Ehud Olmert’s government following Hamas’ victory in the legislative elections in January 2006. At that time, Israel demanded that Hamas recognize it and the signed agreements and began to impose a siege on the Gaza Strip in order to isolate Hamas, which formed the Palestinian government at the time. But after over 11 years, things are going back to the way they were in 2006, when there no real reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, but dialogue. These years have seen a great deal of bloodshed because of the Israeli wars. Several Arab and foreign parties also added fuel to this hostility. This disastrous experience should be an important lesson for the Palestinians, especially Hamas and Fatah, preventing them from repeating it.
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