Palestinians React to Reconciliation
IMEU, APR 28, 2011
Responding to popular pressure from Palestinian civil society, including a growing youth movement, the two main rival Palestinian factions, Fateh and Hamas, have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal after years of failed attempts at ending their divisions. Although details of the agreement have yet to be made public, it reportedly calls for an interim unity government and elections within a year. The IMEU offers the following quotes on this important development from our Palestinian experts.
Inter-Palestinian reconciliation and elections — both for Palestinians under occupation and those in the diaspora — are the esssential preconditions for establishing a unified national movement and a consensus on a strategy for liberation. Without these things, the Palestinians have little hope of changing their situation, which is characterized by occupation and dispossession. This agreement, one of the first fruits of the fall of the Mubarak regime and the Arab spring, will hopefully be a step in that direction.
This is a very important breakthrough in the Palestinian internal conflict, which has lasted for 4 years and has resulted in serious political and social damage. By agreeing on a resolution and reconciliation of the divide, the Palestinians are putting themselves on the right road for liberation and statehood. The most important meaning of the agreement is the principle of sharing power and democratically competing for it. This agreement means Hamas will enter the PLO leadership and all other issues including security, forming government and elections will be dealt with through agreement. Without the Egyptian revolution, and change of the regime, it would have been very difficult to reach this agreement.
This is the first concrete sign of how the Arab spring will impact the Israeli-Arab balance of power and the US Middle East role. After failed attempts by the former Egyptian leadership, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar among others, and despite concerted Israeli-US attempts to stymie reconciliation, the new Egyptian leadership has seemingly scored a success. Fatah and Hamas suddenly need each other given Fatah’s loss of Hosni Mubarak’s and Hamas’ reliance on a suddenly precarious Syria, and demands for unity by Palestinian youth. The deal underscores the US administration’s fading ability to influence events, and the new realities Israel must deal with. There will be much to watch in the months leading up to the Palestinians’ request for full membership in the UN.
Israel’s greatest fear is to face a united Palestinian polity that demands its rights, as was stated earlier this month by Israeli PM Netanyahu. It is important to remember that one of the biggest obstacles to Palestinian unity was international interference, particularly interference by the United States and the EU. This is an important step in Palestinian history and I hope that this agreement will lead to a broader Palestinian strategy on how to effectively challenge Israel’s military rule, its apartheid system and its denial of Palestinian freedom.
A continuation of split is suicidal for the Palestinian cause and people. The Palestinian leadership has no right or reason to continue the split. The most recent Israeli leadership has embarked on war crimes; through humiliation and social and economic suffocation – leaving Palestinians in their worst situation since the Nakba. This Israeli government has no agenda for peace. There is nothing left for the Palestinians to be divided about: it is politically meaningless to continue the Palestinian split. Palestinian people will not forgive or forget any political party who will continue to keep the Palestinians away from a path toward, unity, liberation and freedom.