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Reconciliation in search of a political programme

May 3, 2014 at 9:52 am

Since the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations stalled in 2010, the Palestinian cause seemed to be let down in two aspects: the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and the futile negotiations with Israel. Over the past four years, and even years before that, the idea of national liberation gradually dwindled in the Palestinian political discourse and the Palestine issue seemed insolvable, especially after the establishment of the conviction amongst the Palestinian elite that there is a tendency among Arab countries to get rid of the burden of their cause which would make the Palestinian issue similar to that of the Armenians.

Despite the fact that the track record of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is full of unfulfilled deadlines such as the Makkah agreement in 2007, the Cairo Agreement in 2011 and the Doha agreement in 2012, the reconciliation must have been achieved, at least after the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2012. However, Ismail Haniyeh waited until December 19, 2013, to call for a comprehensive national meeting to discuss establishing a national consensus government based on the Cairo and Doha agreements. However, the reconciliation was not achieved due to Hamas’ refusal to integrate the security services and insisted that the selection of the prime minister was not President Mahmoud Abbas’ right but is Hamas’ right.

Since then, the Arab situation turned upside down and violence broke out all over the region. Things went in every direction and even took President Mohammed Morsi’s government in Egypt down, allowing, by force and due to the reality of the situation, the execution of the current incitement campaign, the duration of which is still unknown.

We do not know where the Palestinians will be able to withstand these cyclones or if they will be blown away. It was interesting that the reconciliation delegation that departed from Ramallah and headed to Gaza did not include anyone with serious political weight, except for Azzam Al-Ahmad. It did, however, include billionaire businessman Munib Al-Masri which indicates the possibility of Al-Masri heading the national consensus government which was supposed to be formed with qualified independent individuals in accordance with the agreement, in the event Abbas is not appointed prime minister himself.

It is well-known that for over four years Al-Masri has been seeking to achieve reconciliation and he has a plan to this end, the articles and stipulations of which he has continued to present to every Palestinian and Arab party.

There is no doubt that the participation of Hamas in any Palestinian government will bring us back, once again, to the conditions of the International Quartet, which dictate the condemnation of terrorism and the recognition of the Oslo Accords and the other agreements branching from it, including the security agreements and the acceptance of direct negotiations in order to apply the terms of Oslo.

However, the members of the Quartet will ultimately agree to Hamas’ presence and get used to it in any Palestinian government, as they have become used to Hezbollah’s presence in successive Lebanese governments. On the other hand, Hamas began to speak in a new tongue, as if its “updated” language was being used as a prelude to a new policy. In a speech made on October 19, 2013, Ismail Haniyeh condemned the support of terrorism in Gaza in the context of a call for Palestinian reconciliation, while leader of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Meshaal did not hesitate to say “Israel exists as a fait accompli (…) and the acceptance of the 1967 borders means the recognition of the existence of Israel” (Al-Mushahid Al-Siyasi magazine – London, March 18, 2007). He has also said in an interview conducted by Ken Livingstone for London’s New Statesman magazine and published on September 17, 2009, that “We do, in Hamas, believe that a realistic peaceful settlement to the conflict will have to begin with a ceasefire agreement between the two sides based on a full withdrawal of Israel from all the territories occupied in 1967.”

What is left of the political dispute between Hamas and Fatah regarding their position on a political settlement? Nothing. Hamas’ position in this regard is almost identical of Fatah’s and Hamas now no longer has a political project.

Also, Hamas can no longer turn back the hands of time at a moment after Morsi’s rule in Egypt ended and after the pages of “the caliphate” have been turned, although Haniyeh had imagined that such pages were open, as stated in a speech he made on July 20, 2012. Accordingly, Hamas, which appeared during the first phase of the Egyptian revolution as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, now appears without any project other than the security of Gaza, and even this project failed with the collapse of the Brotherhood in Egypt.

Fatah is going forward with the reconciliation under the pressure of desperation and Hamas is doing the same. The first steps of this reconciliation is to agree on a comprehensive political programme, while procedural matters such as elections, the government and the prime minister are ultimately details in the greater scheme of things.

This reconciliation will not be a success or positive unless the two authorities unite in the form of one central authority, with Hamas included after it gives up its unilateral authority of Gaza and after the security services are integrated into one. Otherwise, let’s go towards a handicapped, laughable and dead Palestinian federation. If we take a pencil and divide it into two, it becomes two pencils, but if we take a bird with two wings and cut it into two, it becomes two pieces of dead meat, not two birds.

Translated from Al Araby Al Jadid 30 April, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.