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Fatah-Hamas talks

Editorial, Arab News



The winds of change buffeting the region appear to have impacted the Palestinians

February 26, 2011

Amid vast regional transformations, pressure is mounting on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reconcile with Hamas. With options for negotiated peace and a Palestinian state thinning, pressure on Palestinian factions to unify has intensified. So it is that Abbas' Fatah Party has said it is ready for new talks with rival Hamas over a long-elusive reconciliation.

The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah soured dramatically after their split of four years ago. Repeated attempts at getting the two parties to reconcile their differences have led nowhere. But the winds of change with hurricane force that have been buffeting the region appear to have impacted the Palestinians. In the wake of a failed bid to pass a draft resolution in the Security Council condemning Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, young Palestinians recently converged on central Ramallah to call for unity between the main two Palestinian factions. Their demand was not only not to return to negotiations, but more significant, that all efforts be invested in reaching national reconciliation with Hamas.

In such spirit, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has offered Hamas a spot in a new Cabinet being cobbled together in Ramallah (though having won landslide elections outright in 2006 it's doubtful Hamas would now accept a bit part).

Despite the chants for unity and what appears a real desire for reconciliation, the dispute is difficult to resolve. The quarrel over who will control the security forces is most contentious. Under whose authority will security forces fall? Fatah insists they must come under the control of the Palestinian presidency; Hamas believes the elected government should command the security apparatus. To break the stalemate, the security personnel in the Hamas government should merge with their counterparts in the Fatah government who worked together before military operations resulted in Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip. Senior security positions could be held by politically independent figures that have no group affiliations to either Fatah or Hamas.

Inter-Palestinian understandings and agreement reached in the past could also be revisited, most prominently the national reconciliation plan approved by all Palestinian factions, the Cairo Agreement of 2005, and the Makkah Accords of 2007.

Of course, Tel Aviv rejects Palestinian national conciliation because it would represent a loss for Israel. A vital gain for Israel from Palestinian division is preventing political unity of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Benjamin Netanyahu can always claim he cannot reach agreement with Abbas because the latter does not represent all Palestinians. National unity would reconnect the West Bank with the Gaza Strip to become one political unit, which Israel does not want. Israel's greatest achievement since inter-Palestinian divisions began is the complete separation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Israel is doing all it can to maintain this accomplishment.

The Palestinian response should be to regroup, to reassert the national agenda in pursuit of an end to occupation, the return of refugees, self-determination, and to establish a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.

The position should remain consistent: To never give up the struggle to claim the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The right to self-determination to be exercised by all the people in the region of Palestine is a legal right that all states have agreed to in law. It is about time, in these days of national resurgence sweeping the region, that the direct parties to the dispute worked in tandem to realize the same rights.






:: Article nr. 75382 sent on 27-feb-2011 04:50 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=75382

Link: arabnews.com/opinion/editorial/article287047.ece



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