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Two governments are competing over what’s left of Palestine

February 8, 2019 at 10:51 am

Leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar (5th L) gathers with Palestinians groups to evaluate the reconciliation deal, signed between Hamas and Fatah, in Gaza City, Gaza on 28 September 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Two Palestinian governments will soon see the light of day; both will be under occupation and siege. One will be official and declared, formed by Fatah, and it will receive international recognition as the legitimate government. The second will be a de facto and implicit government. It will bear a name such as the “Administrative Committee” and it will be dealt with as the “status quo” by some countries and perhaps some international organisations, each for their own reasons and motives and always by virtue of a “fait accompli”.

The first government will be formed as a result of a Fatah decision, and Fatah alone will conduct the discussions about it. A committee has been formed and charged with this and its backbone will be Fatah members and those within the movement’s orbit. The second government will be formed by Hamas and under its control, even if it includes “bureaucrats and technocrats” affiliated with the Islamic Resistance movement and in the same orbit, in order to avoid further sanctions and closures.

As part of each movement’s individual endeavours and in order to throw dust in each other’s eyes, under the cover of unity and nationalism the two are making an effort to diversify their governments. They are not looking for partners and counterparts, but followers and supporters, even if they are alleged representatives of extinct factions that have been decimated between Damascus, Gaza and Ramallah. These individuals are always ready to participate in demand, as they feed off of division and the demand for them increases during such polarising times as the situation in the Palestinian arena today.

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They are no more than “talismans” that the two major factions use against the “evil eye” scrutinising their individual domination and influence enviously. The demand for the talismans will grow as the race to form the two separate governments intensifies. In part, this hides a deep sense of the loss of electoral legitimacy within the two movements, even if hiding behind the remnants of factions is useless.

Fatah is conducting its dialogue with other factions, mainly the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as the Palestinian People’s Party and the Palestinian National Initiative. According to the official charged with this matter, the dialogue is being conducted on the basis that, “We will not beg anyone. We welcome anyone who wants to join the government and say goodbye to anyone who doesn’t.” At least some of the Fatah members have a sense of excessive strength without this actually being justified, especially after the deterioration of the Palestinian national project, at home and in the diaspora. It has hit rock bottom under the leadership of Fatah, which has been historically described as the project’s backbone.

PLO delegation - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

PLO delegation – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Meanwhile, it seems that Hamas has adopted the “joint command room” and the National Committee for the Great March of Return, although, given my scepticism regarding any policies and positions adopted by the Palestinian factions at the moment, I believe that attracting factions to the command room and committee aims to control their deliberations and actions, not to involve them in the decision-making for war or peace, nor to manage the confrontation and resistance. I think that Hamas wants everyone around the command room and committee table in order to ensure a truce and regulate the Great March of Return protests in accordance with the understandings being developed through regional and international mediation.

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Both parties are seeking talismans to complement the role and function of the “extra”. As for a true reconciliation and comprehensive national unity, only God knows when this will be achieved.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour newspaper on 7 February 2019.

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