Not too long after a valid reconciliation agreement had been reached, factional differences between Fatah and Hamas would quickly resurface as if nothing had happened. It is as if there was no reconciliation agreement, no truce and no unity government. Politicians acted as if Palestinian blood was not being spilt as a result of Israel's aggressive war on the Gaza Strip, which nearly reached the point of annihilation. The Israelis do not distinguish between one Palestinian and the next and they certainly do not distinguish between members of Fatah and Hamas as Israel's policies render every Palestinian a potential martyr.
While it is true that many of the roots behind the national division have yet to be addressed and that both Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are the parties responsible for prolonging the division; however, if the tears, courage and resilience that have resulted from the war on Gaza have no affect on the Palestinians, then what this ultimately means is that the Israeli aggressor has just raised the bar and can do whatever they please. If Gaza has had no impact on the reality of the occupation, then what will have an effect? Aside from the ideological and political differences between the two parties, which are of course important, the deeper problem lies in the refusal of both parties to recognise the important roles both of them play in the Palestinian national struggle both today and throughout history. Both Fatah and Hamas are guilty of humiliating the other to the point of absolute disgrace and they have even gone so far as to sacrifice members of the opposing party in the PLO and abroad.
There is a tendency among the Palestinians of every generation, movement and initiative, both at home and abroad, to believe that resistance began with them. There is no recognition of outside struggles and sacrifices because all of the past can be neglected or forgotten in a moment of cranky intolerance. The same can be said about the moments in which both of these factions are fully aware of the other's efforts and struggles to place Palestine on the global political map. There is no doubt that the Oslo agreement severely hindered any unified Palestinian position both historically and in the present. Yet, this rarely affects Palestinian writers, analysts and fighters whose job remains to maintain the people's resistance and struggle despite all divisions. Both sides must acknowledge the history of struggles and sacrifices that have been made for the sake of the Palestinian cause and by this I am not talking about distant history.
I am not talking about distant history… for how can one deny the role that Fatah's leadership played in the struggles and resistance throughout the second intifada? Prominent leaders within the Palestinian Authority made many sacrifices and the most prominent among them is, of course, Marwan Barghouti. How can one deny the efforts of the prisoners and martyrs from the popular and democratic fronts? Is it even permissible to deny the efforts of Hamas and Islamic Jihad's fighters during Israel's recent attack on Gaza or previous instances? Yes, there are political differences but these issues are now being highlighted by the differences between secular and religious platforms and this is a different issue entirely.
However, Fatah supporters are not entitled to reduce Hamas' efforts to a religious project nor does Hamas have the right to simply refer to Fatah as the product of Oslo, especially when high-ranking leaders know the whole truth. We cannot claim to be embarking on a counterfeit renaissance project or to try to influence the reality of the conflict by using revenge unless we want to sacrifice the Palestinian people as a whole.
It is the responsibility of the Palestinian National Authority, and Fatah specifically, to abandon its dependence on the so-called peace process, which does not exist unless "protecting Israel's security" is the source of all of its legitimacy.
It is Hamas' responsibility not to subject the Palestinian people to a religious state because the Palestinian cause is far greater than us all and any other project is against Palestine. What is shocking is that Israel's blatant attempts to deepen the Palestinian rift appear to be working thanks to the lack of Palestinian foresight. What is unfortunate is that factional interests trample on the bodies of children and the lives that were lost for the Palestinian cause.
Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 2 September, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.