Continued efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation and restore national cohesion are worthy of praise and appreciation, however, there are questions that have not yet been answered. Among these are questions about the foundations upon which reconciliation must be based as well as the safeguards in place to guarantee the success and continuity of any reconciliation.
There are two rival Palestinian projects; one based at Ramallah which is hedging all its bets on a peaceful settlement and placing all Palestinian options in the hands of America and the axis of ‘moderate’ Arab countries while the other, in Gaza, rejects negotiations and advocates resistance.
For any reconciliation to achieve a modicum of success, the two parties involved need to be united in their approach. In other words, either Hamas must accept the conditions of the Quartet, including the recognition of Israel and the renunciation of violence, or that the opposite should happen; the Authority in Ramallah and the Fatah movement that provides it with political cover, become aware of the futility of negotiations, dissolve the Palestinian Authority which emerged from the Oslo Accords, and return to resistance in all forms.
Our assessment is that both parties will not abandon their projects, and each will maintain their position and options given the risks that may result from any concessions or retreat from these positions.
On one hand, the Authority is tied up in deals and alliances with Arab and international interests; billions of dollars have been invested by the Western nations to support the Authority, and as such it has become a prisoner of these agreements and alliances. On the other hand, Hamas has reached a significant level of popularity and political prominence because of its commitment to resistance and opposition to the negotiations and signed agreements between the Authority and Israel.
Reconciliation means sharing, and we believe that none of the sides in the Palestinian equation want to share. For example, the Authority could not accept a minister affiliated with Hamas becoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or even an ambassador in London, Paris, Washington and Berlin; it would not accept a Hamas affiliated deputy to Dr. Salam Fayyad, who would gain access and knowledge of all matters related to the Ministry of Finance or similarly, a Hamas affiliated assistant to Dr. Saeb Erekat, who would follow the process of negotiations with its all secret meetings.
On the other hand it is difficult to see Hamas giving up power in the Gaza Strip. If it did, what would it do with its 50,000 police cadres? Would it be possible to integrate them with the police forces in the West Bank that have been trained by General Dayton?!
There are several questions that need to be answered clearly and explicitly by the Committee on Palestinian Reconciliation currently working on bridging the gap between these conflicting parties. These questions also need to be answered by the two Palestinian sides of the equation themselves.
We support Palestinian reconciliation and an end to this state of fragmentation, but we must first endeavour to create the appropriate atmosphere and propose a unifying political agenda, otherwise all efforts would be like “grinding water”. We must be aware of engendering false hopes as the realties are tragic and the gap is wide; the Palestinian situation is unfortunate by all standards and as such we must return to the principles, even if this leads us back to our starting point – the resistance.
Palestinians were once united within the framework of the “Palestine Liberation Organization” because it was a “liberation” movement and because the groups affiliated to it were resistance factions. The current situation is quite different; the PLO has lost its prestige just as it lost most of its influence when it stopped being a liberation organization and became a negotiator.
Source: Opinion Al Quds al Arabi