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Palestinian reconciliation… as feared

Nov 28,2017 - Last updated at Nov 28,2017

When the conflicting Palestinian factions decided to put their differences aside in favour of a long-awaited Hamas-Fateh unity, they were hoping that some tangible outcomes would soon follow.

So far, this proved to be an unrealistic expectation.

Grumblings are being heard in Gaza, as well as some expressions of bitter disappointment. 

The Rafah crossing has been handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), a standard condition for opening the Gaza-Egypt border. While the condition has been met, the border remains the same. It only opens sporadically for brief periods of time and for emergencies. This does not ease the siege to any considerable measure, and the other restrictions remain in place.

There were also larger hopes. The 10-year-long schism between Gaza, under Hamas, and the West Bank, under PA control, was primarily blamed for political stagnation, which eventually led to the withdrawal of the Palestinian issue from both Arab and international priorities.

There are no signs yet that the reconciliation, or what has been achieved of it so far, is advancing the cause. Quite the contrary, in  fact. The retreat seems to be accelerating.

But there is no mystery here. Hard facts continue to overrule tactical moves dictated by necessities. From the start, there were doubts about the real and sudden motives for reconciliation.

Not too long ago, I presented my argument on this page that the reconciliation process was going to be very difficult, particularly with regards to the issue of security.

How would the resistance, its arsenal and its hierarchical apparatus fit in the new arrangement, was just one question.

Would the PA accept a parallel-armed force not quite under its control once a PA takeover of Gaza happens? And if it insisted on disbanding the resistance military infrastructure would Hamas adhere to such a demand?

And what about the security cooperation between the PA security forces and Israel? What would the situation be if the PA extended the practice in Gaza? 

For understandable reasons, such thorny issues have been delayed in order to avoid a quick collapse of the entire reconciliation process. 

Egypt, which hosts and indeed runs the Palestinian talks, urged the two parties to put off such controversial matters till some progress was made. But sooner or later, the time had to come when these complexities had to be dealt with, and it appears that this happened during the last round.

It is important to bear in mind that the reconciliation effort is not a purely internal Palestinian matter, or even a Palestinian-Egyptian matter; the positions of other related parties, specifically Israel, play a determining role.

Israel would never allow the siege on Gaza to be lifted without disarming the resistance. 

And if, on the other hand, the reconciliation project was part of a US’ “ultimate deal” for resolving the Palestinian-Israel conflict, under no circumstances would Hamas be allowed to retain its infrastructure, even if disarmed. 

There are significant indications that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is unwilling to go along with a deal that does not meet any of the basic Palestinian demands that have already been lowered with time and protracted negotiations to less than the bare minimum.

The American plan has not been publicly revealed, but according to regularly leaked information, it is definitely very difficult for the Palestinians to accept it.

The plan seems to have been tailored to fully accommodate all Israeli demands, perhaps even an exaggerated version of what has so far been revealed. 

The Netanyahu government has nothing to lose either way. If the Palestinians accept the terms of the “ultimate deal”, which includes the total and final liquidation of all pending issues, that would be fine for Israel. 

If, on the other hand, they reject the offer, they will be widely blamed for missing yet another “opportunity” and Israel will be a given free hand to keep the occupation, maintain the Gaza blockade and continue with the colonisation plans of what is left of Palestine.

Israel would prefer to prolong the status quo indefinitely in the absence of a settlement that gives the Palestinians practically nothing; not even a settlement that changes the status quo into a final and permanent settlement because Israeli territorial ambitions exceed what has been colonised so far. 

It is quite unlikely that the ultimate deal will materialise, despite persuasion and pressure, in which case the Palestinian unity becomes a more pressing necessity.

But the matter is not in the hands of the Palestinians. Neither the PA nor Hamas can end the Gaza siege. Egypt can.

 

One hopes it will.

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Comments

Which only goes to illustrate Israrl’ s strong position.
Palestinians would be well advised to accept reality and do the best deal they can,
They always worked on the assumption that delay favoured them, but this is no longer the case.
Soon there will be nothing left to negotiate about.

LOOK, THIS IDEA OF DEPENDING AND POSTPONDING THE SUFFERING OF ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE IS A CRIME AND SIN AGAINST HUMANITY. IT IS NOT ONLY UP TO THE PALESTINIANS TO FIND A SOLUTION TO THE WORLD OLDEST CONFLICT. IF THE LEADERS OF THE ARAB WORLD WANT THIS CONFLICT TO END TODAY, IT WILL BUT EVERY GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS SHOWS THAT AT BEST, MOST OF THOSE WHO HAVE MORAL IF NOT LEGAL OBLIGATION TO DO WHAT AFRICAN LEADERS DID IN THE CASE OF SOUTH AFRICA BEFORE MANDELA ARE PLAYING EXPENSIVE GAMES. NO ONE SHOULD FORGET HOW THE PALESTINIANS CAME TO BE DIVIDED. IT WAS ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIZATION WHICH WAS DEMANDED BY THE MASTERS AND WHEN THE PALESTINIANS RESPONDED, HAMAS WON AND THE WEST SAID " OH NO, NOT THIS WAY ". YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS AND STILL CONTINUE TO BLAME THE VICTIMS. YES, AFRICA IS IN CHAOS, CURRUPT AND REGREATEFULLY MIS-MANAGED THEIR ECONOMY BUT ONE THING IS SURE ABOUT THE AFRICAN PRIDE AND SENSE OF NATIONALISM IS THAT THEY WILL NEVER ALLOW THE STATUS QUO AS IT IS IN THE ISRALI-PALESTINIAN STATE OF AFFAIRS. THIS IS IN CONTRAST TO THE DIVISION, BACK-BITING AND DOUBLE DEALINGS AMONG SOME IF NOT MOST OF THE ARAB LEADERS THAT CAN STOP THE MESS OVERNIGHT. NEITHER THE ISRALIS NOR THE PALESTINIANS WANT THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS BUT THEY ALONE THEMSELVES CAN NOT END THIS PEPETUAL STATE OF WAR. LET US JUST TRACE OUR LOCUS BACK FOR ONLY FIVE YEARS ALONE, HOW MANY COAILIONS OF THE WILLING HAVE THE ARAB LEADERS PLAYED A VITAL ROLE AS A MAJOR FIGHTING FORCE?. WHERE AND HOW HOW MANY PLACES HAVE THEY PARTICIPATED IN ALL CONFLICTS FROM THE REGION TO EUROPE, AFRICA AND SO ON BUT ALLOW THEIR HOMES TO BE ON FIRE. THEY HAVE IN FACT FAILLED THEIR PEOPLES AND THE REGION.

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