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Fallacies of the Palestinian national reconciliation

July 1, 2016 at 9:47 am

The Palestinian national reconciliation has been a media interest since the bloody split between Fatah and Hamas in 2007. In Gaza and the West Bank, the reconciliation, once a matter of heated debate and optimistic anticipation, has become an object of bitter sarcasm and cynicism.

The behaviour of the Fatah and Hamas leaderships shows a blatant disregard, even contempt, for the people they purportedly represent. Although each party claims to have a larger constituency than the other, the fact is that the Palestinian people have not been consulted on any subject of political significance since 2006.

It must be remembered that the establishment of a Palestinian governing body under the boot of Israel’s occupying power was the creation of the Oslo Accords in 1993. It was thanks to this agreement that Israel “conceded” certain administrative tasks to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority which, since then, has made life miserable for every Palestinian except, needless to say, its beneficiaries. The Palestinian Authority never qualified as a sovereign government and, owing part of its disgrace to the security cooperation agreement, never served anyone other than Israel.

Hamas, on the other hand, was well-respected when it used to be a resistance movement concerned with the well-being of the Palestinian people, fighting for the disenfranchised, and combating Israel. In 2006 however, Hamas decided to run in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, carrying the slogan “change and reform”. Since its electoral victory against Fatah, Hamas gradually ceased to be a people’s party and, instead, it began to cater to its members, promoting them to senior positions not based on expertise, but on party affiliations. Armed resistance also became a political tool deployed to score political gains rather than a means to empower the Palestinian people in their struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Perhaps most laughable about every reconciliation effort is that Fatah and Hamas are allowed to believe that they are relevant when, in fact, they are not. Whichever way one looks, there is absolutely no need for a unity government not only because it has always been clinically dead, but because, should it ever work, it has nothing to offer to the Palestinians.

Any form of government established through a humiliating agreement with the occupier like the Oslo Accords is doomed to failure from the outset. The Palestinian people have thus far had the misfortune of simultaneously experiencing two dysfunctional governments, one in Gaza and one in the West Bank, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority respectively. On both sides, the Palestinian socio-economic and political conditions are constantly deteriorating. Israel, meanwhile, is enjoying an occupation free of charge as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are made responsible for the provision of jobs, infrastructure and economic stability with the help of international donors and political allies. Thus, instead of forcing Israel to face up to its obligations toward the people it is occupying, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority meekly agreed to pay for its occupation.

Palestinians are often taunted for not being able to reconcile their internal differences. The problem, however, is of an existential rather than a political kind. The existence of these “differences” cannot be divorced from the existence of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. They must be irrevocably dismantled and any prospect at resurrecting them decisively obliterated if the Palestinians are to have a brighter future. Bluntly put, there is no place for puppet governments in a genuine resistance movement aimed at liberating an occupied people.

International brokers, deliberately oblivious of anything taking place outside their fancy environs, continue to pontificate that the Palestinian “national reconciliation” is top priority. The question that is never asked is whose priority the reconciliation is. For the Palestinians, there is nothing to be gained from it. Neither economic problems will be resolved nor will liberation be achieved as a result of two incompetent parties working through their differences.

The “national reconciliation” is an illusion shifting the focus away from Israel, banalising its occupation and neutralising any attempt at organising a visionary grassroots leadership. Efforts geared at reconciling Hamas and the Palestinian Authority should rather be directed at collapsing them to no return. The unity government, if it is to ever form, will only be a continuation of the legacies of Oslo which, as has always been clear, means further acquiescence to Israel.


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