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The never-ending reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah

Palestinian Fatah movement leader Azzam Al-Ahmad (R) and Deputy Chairman of the Movement's Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri (L) shake hands after signing the reconciliation agreement to build a consensus in Cairo, Egypt on 12 October 2017 [Ahmed Gamil/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian Fatah movement leader Azzam Al-Ahmad (R) and Deputy Chairman of the Movement's Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri (L) in Cairo, Egypt on 12 October 2017 [Ahmed Gamil/Anadolu Agency]

The reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah have become futile; boring get-togethers that have lasted for more than ten years. They have got to the stage where the negotiations themselves have become the goal; negotiations for the sake of negotiations. It is a game at which both sides excel, and resemble the equally pointless "negotiations" between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, during which it is always the Palestinians who have to make concessions.

No sane person can possibly reject the idea of reconciliation between the two most important Palestinian factions, and the restoration of some degree of cohesion to be able to face the challenges and conspiracies as one. The most prominent of these has been the deal of the century, which aims to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause.

However, how do you reconcile between two completely different factions, each with its own ideology? For Hamas, resistance against the Israeli occupation is at its heart as the only way to liberate Palestine from the clutches of Zionism.

READ: Egypt blames PA's Abbas for failure of reconciliation talks

Fatah, meanwhile, abandoned armed struggle years ago and arrests those who think otherwise. It cooperates with Israel on security against its own people under the pretext of the ominous Oslo Accords and the resulting illusory authority. It is also still following what it calls the strategic peace option, as it has done for over a quarter of a century. It does so despite its complete failure. No Palestinian state has been established as Oslo stipulated, nor have the illegal Israeli settlements been stopped. On the contrary, the theft of land has increased apace, and the settlements have grown in size and number. Less than 22 per cent of historic Palestine remains for a Palestinian state, and Israel is currently trying to annex even that. The puppet PA does not lift a finger to stop this. Instead, it issues meaningless appeals to the "international community". The situation in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan is the best evidence of this.

The understated victory of the resistance following the recent Israeli attack on Gaza is strong evidence that resistance is the most effective and shortest way to liberate Palestine, and that the path taken by Fatah is deluded and misguided, and will probably kill the Palestinian cause. Fatah leaders are determined to follow it, though, because they fear losing their privileges, prestige, and money in the bank, no matter how much Israel humiliates them. According to Mahmoud Abbas himself, he cannot leave his home in Ramallah unless he obtains permission from the Israeli security authorities, so what sort of authority does he actually have to which he clings so passionately? He has been blinded by the presidential aircraft, the motorcades, and the red carpets as he is received by presidents and kings, and believes that he is a real president like other world leaders.

The restlessness among Fatah's grassroots support in the face of this puppet authority is ever more apparent as the people realise that the PA has led them to a dead end. The anger within Fatah is growing behind the scenes and in WhatsApp groups.

"We used to follow the same path as Hamas," said one Fatah loyalist, a once senior post-holder. "The people in the Fatah movement are angry. What Hamas is doing now is what Fatah did during the first intifada, as Fatah believed in the struggle against the occupation and the liberation of Palestine by armed resistance. What Mahmoud Abbas has done is strip Fatah of meaning, goal or fight for the sake of freedom and liberation." He added that Fatah members on the ground aren't happy with the PA leader and his men who want to maintain the status quo because they want money and to keep their investments in land deals; they want the occupation to remain because, without it, they have no role.

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There is still some spark left in the ashes of Fatah's support bases, and even in some of its senior people. Abbas is thus expelling them, as he did with Nasser Al-Qudwa, the former member of the Fatah Central Committee, former representative of the PLO at the UN, and former foreign minister who was expelled because he refused to stand in the legislative election on a list led by the PA, Fatah and PLO leader.

Oslo Accords, the 25th Anniversary - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Oslo Accords, the 25th Anniversary – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

However, there is a new generation born outside the Oslo womb. They have raised the banner of change. This new generation is not linked to Fatah and has no connection with Ramallah or its leadership, nor does it restrict itself to walls or checkpoints imposed by the occupation authority. Neither Jerusalemites nor the Palestinians in the territories occupied in 1948 give in to the checkpoints and walls imposed by the occupation, let alone the Fatah authority. This generation is part of a people who stretch from the river to the sea. Thousands of them participated in the recent demonstrations in the West Bank and in the 1948 territories against the Zionist aggression on Gaza and against Abbas, who was completely absent from the events in Jerusalem, including the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attempt to displace the people of Sheikh Jarrah, and in the attack on Gaza. Although this generation is not affiliated with Hamas, it participated in the victory celebrations, raising the movement's flags and chanting in the names of its military leaders Mohammed Deif and Abu Obeida. This generation has made up its mind and has chosen resistance to liberate Palestine.

READ: Al-Qudwa to create new Fatah current

Mahmoud Abbas has nothing to say to the Palestinians because he has accomplished nothing for them. Three decades of absurd talks with Israel after its official recognition have achieved nothing but the dismantling of all Palestinian institutions that were participating in the dialogue: the Palestinian National Council, the PLO, and the Central Council.

What reconciliation are they talking about? Do they want Hamas to be drawn into this political nonsense and lay down its arms as Fatah did? Or will Fatah return to its original path of resistance, and abandon the illusion that it has followed for nearly three decades? Will it tear up the Oslo Accords and join Hamas in the armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine? This is the only way to achieve a real reconciliation; anything less is yet more waste of time and effort.

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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