Everyone wishes to see an end to the Palestinian division and to the political rift which have been ongoing for a decade and a half. But the end of this division cannot be achieved through agreements that neglect the basis of the crisis and ignore the main cause of the conflict, which is the occupation.
There are factors that could easily destroy the Cairo agreement signed by the Palestinian factions on Tuesday regarding the preparation of asynchronous elections for the Legislative Council, the Presidency and the National Council. These factors confirm that the dialogue that took place between the factions was focused on procedural matters that would fit in an independent state with a complete democracy, not in an authority that l2acks sovereignty under occupation. This reinforces fears that this agreement will not differ from others and that it will not end the division, but will deepen it.
One of these factors is that the agreement spoke of acceptable measures, such as allowing political freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza during the election campaign, ensuring freedom of movement, working to hold elections in occupied Jerusalem, and trying to emphasise that the Palestinian police alone are the ones responsible for securing the elections.
These measures, which we said are agreed by everyone, cannot take place in the West Bank. No one can prevent the occupation from standing in the way of Hamas candidates in the cities and villages of the West Bank, or prevent their arrest by occupation forces. And no one can force the occupation to hold elections in Jerusalem and not to arrest the winners or deport them as was the case in the 2006 elections. No one can guarantee that the occupation soldiers won't intervene on election day and that they would leave this mission to the Palestinian police.
When talking about securing the day of the elections, it might be a good example of Palestinians' confusion. Those participating in the dialogue in Cairo agreed to this condition while thinking about preventing the military wings of Palestinian factions from interfering and limiting the task to the police only.
The statement issued from Cairo says that the repercussions of the division in all its aspects will be dealt with by a national committee to be formed by consensus. The committee will submit its recommendations to the president for approval and transfer to the government that will be formed after the elections for implementation. This decision is one of the dangerous factors that can destroy the agreement, as it does not make it a condition to agree on measures to address the repercussions of division before holding the elections. This leaves the door open to endless conflicts if elections are held before these problems are resolved; conflicts that the new government cannot work before solving, mainly the situation of employees.
Among the important gaps of the new Cairo agreement is leaving the occupation out of the agreement and staying away from dealing with the national crisis, while trying to solve the Oslo Authority crisis instead. The agreement, as was expected, did not provide answers to very important questions, such as: the Palestinian National strategy to fight the occupation, the fate of armed resistance, the decision of war and peace and the nature of the Authority's relation with the occupation, including security coordination.
In order to be just to those who participated in the dialogue, we must mention that they talked about one issue related to the conflict with the occupation in two of the 15 articles of the agreement. It is the issue of prisoners, although they agreed to deal with this matter by the next Legislative Council, as if the conflict with the occupation is a struggle between two municipalities, and as if a Legislative Council that cannot guarantee that the occupation does not arrest its members and president, as was the case in 2006, will be able to solve the issue of detainees in the prisons of the occupation.
The Palestinian National Dialogue Agreement in Cairo, which was signed on Tuesday, will be nothing more than a new document that will either be forgotten or mentioned by history as one of the stations that contributed to deepening the division of the Palestinian people rather than their unity. It is one of the outcomes of the fall of Palestinians, which brought everyone into the Oslo tunnel making they part of it.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 9 February 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.