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Palestinian leaders are far from embodying the spirit of unity displayed by the people

Palestinians celebrate the removal of the security measures at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem, on 27 July 2017 [Mahmoud İbrahem/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians celebrate the removal of the security measures at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem, on 27 July 2017 [Mahmoud İbrahem/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians have displayed amazing unity in the past couple of weeks over the issue of Al-Aqsa Mosque; their political and resistance protest rendered as mere spectators the political factions. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue with the sporadic trend of attempting reconciliation. There are, of course, differences between the people and the factions which are being exposed as time passes, notably the authenticity of the people in protecting their territory as opposed to political rhetoric seeking to capitalise upon events to assert authority.

In the context of Israel’s security measures at the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, the PA and Hamas issued statements calling for unity, with both having distinct requirements. Hamas called for a “national strategy” among all Palestinian factions to protect Al-Aqsa, while the PA made yet another plea for control over Gaza.

During a meeting held in Ramallah on Tuesday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the demands which have been surfacing in varying forms since the aftermath of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014. The tone was pure blackmail. According to Ma’an news agency, Abbas informed the Hamas delegation that if the movement “dissolves the administrative committee it had established to run the Gaza Strip and enables the [PA] government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work freely in Gaza, then all measures recently applied to the Gaza Strip will be retracted.”

Read: ‘Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa make Palestinian lives unbearable’

Reconciliation, therefore, is actually far from the PA’s mind. As Palestinians in Gaza have their humanitarian crisis exacerbated due to Abbas halting funding for electricity supplies, thus igniting a stream of repercussions in every aspect of life, particularly health care and basic needs, it is unthinkable that Abbas’s imploring will elicit any consideration. The harm inflicted intentionally upon the enclave to score some ambiguous political points will end up damaging Abbas even more. Fragmenting Palestinians may be part of Abbas’s intention as he highlights the discrepancies between Gaza and the West Bank, creating as he does so an assumption of superiority in the latter. That certainly looks to be part of his ploy. However, Palestinians have proved themselves capable of rising above such ploys and, indeed, leading a unified front without the aid of either faction.

Hamas, on the other hand, would seem to have adopted an approach that differs from that of the PA, yet the association with Mohammed Dahlan, whether as a lever to assert further power or out of perceived necessity, does not bode well for Palestinians. Increasingly, the people are being forced into an obscure background while the power-play takes centre stage, involving Palestinians only depending upon opportunity.

#FreeQuds 

A week before the Ramallah meeting, the UN also issued a call for reconciliation between the PA and Hamas, calling the current deprivation experienced in Gaza the result of this “internal dispute” despite knowing full well that it is the direct result of Israeli occupation and violence and PA collaboration. The least that Hamas can do is stick to its principles of resistance rather than succumb to momentary political opportunity by involving Dahlan. For a people who have resisted so much despite all the violations imposed upon them, the possible alliance does not bode well. Reconciliation between the PA and Hamas is not possible in the current circumstances. Adding another mistrusted political actor to the scene will only open a new chapter of oppression which could well be avoided.

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

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