Tuesday, May 03, 2011

3-May-11: Fatah and Hamas are now officially in the same bed

Yes, we know they're praying. But what are they praying for?
AFP is reporting in the past hour that
"Palestinian factions gathered in Cairo on Tuesday signed a reconciliation deal that will pave the way for elections within a year... Representatives of 13 factions, including Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and its rival Hamas, as well as independent political figures inked the deal following talks with Egyptian officials... "We have discussed all the reservations. Everyone has agreed to take these points into consideration," [a participating politician] told Egyptian state television without elaborating. "Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will be celebrating this agreement... We must now work to implement what was agreed in the deal," he said. Among the first tasks to be tackled is the formation of a government and the establishment of a higher security council tasked with examining ways to integrate Hamas and Fatah's rival security forces and create a "professional" security service. The accord also calls for the creation of an electoral tribunal and for the release of a number prisoners held by the rival movements in jails in the West Bank and Gaza."
HonestReporting.com laid out a timely reminder a week ago of some of the unanswered questions that bedevil this highly problematic unholy alliance.
  • Does this mean Hamas is pragmatic about peace? Hamas still wants to destroy Israel. It has always defied calls to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and honor past negotiating agreements. The Hamas charter remains unchanged.
  • Has ruling Gaza moderated Hamas? Quite the opposite. Hamas is emboldened, imposing Islamic law,  smuggling sophisticated weapons, and watching the Muslim Brotherhood’s gains in Egypt. No goodwill gestures for Gilad Shalit from a new and improved PA are on the horizon. Need we go on?
  • Will Palestinian unity pave the way for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood? It remains to be seen how durable this unity will really be. The two sides will bury their squabbles till September, but all bets are off afterwards. Remember, Hamas and Fatah already reconciled in 2007, only to see Hamas take over Gaza as Fatah supporters were literally thrown off the rooftops. And both sides have other calculations. Fatah lost its biggest patron, Hosni Mubarak, while Hamas faces losing Bashar Assad. Now, they need each other, for better or for worse.
  • Is Abbas displaying statesmanship? Salam Fayyad’s state-building efforts were the PA’s main source of credibility in the West. The closer we get to September, the more the PA needs to tout Fayyad’s program. Instead, Abbas is throwing Fayyadism under the bus. That’s stupidity, not statesmanship.
  • Must/does Israel prove its willingness to make peace by negotiating with a unified Palestinian government? What’s to negotiate when the other side wants to destroy you?

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