No sane person will reject reconciliation between two parties, especially if the parties concerned are from the same land. Nevertheless, it is equally hard to understand how reconciliation can happen between two opposite parties, with each going in the opposite way to the other, although they both wish that the Almighty will change the course of the side that is against history, geography and religion so that there could there be a meeting point. At that stage, and only then, is reconciliation both possible and obligatory for them both.
I say this on the occasion of Algeria’s effort to support Palestinian reconciliation. The government in Algiers has just hosted 16 Palestinian factions, the two main factions without senior leaders, and the others just factional decor in the Palestinian scene. The dialogue ended with the signing of the so-called Algiers Declaration for Intra-Palestinian Reconciliation, in the presence of Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and senior civil and military state officials, as well as ambassadors. Notably absent were Palestinian Authority and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and his predecessor Khaled Meshaal. If they did not attend the signing ceremony, is this a serious agreement?
There is no doubt that the Algerian leadership’s choice of the International Conference Centre for the ceremony was a smart choice, because it has special symbolism. It was in the same hall that President Yasser Arafat announced the establishment of the State of Palestine.
The Algiers Declaration included a spatial and temporal road map that begins with a call for holding presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem within a year from the date of signing the agreement; the unification of Palestinian national institutions; combining efforts and resources for reconstruction projects; and renovating the infrastructure and social infrastructure of the Palestinian people in a way that supports their steadfastness in confronting the Israeli occupation. There is also a plan to follow-up and implement the agreement, supervised by an Arab team under Algerian leadership.
The Palestinians certainly need reconciliation now more than ever, as they are facing some great challenges. Palestinian unity is required against the conspiracy by Israel and some Arab regimes to liquidate the Palestinian cause; and to confront Arab normalisation with Israel before it escalates and consumes the whole Arab world.
It is not yet clear what role Algeria can play in implementing this agreement in practice, and whether it will work to create a conducive climate and environment to end the division. There is no doubt that this places great responsibility on Algeria’s shoulders and gives some Arab cover to the Palestinian cause at a time when the people of occupied Palestine are under severe Israeli pressure, which coincides with the normalisation process.
Will this agreement succeed where several others signed in Cairo, Makkah, Moscow and Beirut failed?
One common factor among all of the political kisses and sweet words is the announcement of presidential and legislative elections, which never actually take place. It is as if Palestinian reconciliation depends on elections, but the reality is that they are likely to create even more division rather than reconciliation.
Personally, I don’t think that those who signed the Algiers Declaration believe that it will lead to anything positive; such deals have been signed before, and were quickly forgotten. There is nothing new that has been agreed in Algiers which suggest that there is serious intent to implement the terms of the declaration.
This must be very frustrating for the Palestinian people who have been suffering since the violent confrontation between the two main signatories in Gaza in 2007. So does anyone really believe that this latest declaration is going to lead anywhere and change the reality on the ground in occupied Palestine?
In order to know why all of the previous reconciliation agreements between the two main factions, Fatah and Hamas, have failed we need to ask an obvious question: what is the basis of reconciliation between the two ideologically-opposed factions? Hamas believes in resistance to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea, while Fatah has deviated from this path, selling the blood of thousands of heroes who sacrificed their lives for Palestine, in the slave market of the Oslo Accords.
The Fatah movement which negotiated in Madrid and Oslo and lives off their bitter fruits is not the same Fatah that was founded on the basis of struggle, resistance and liberation. Its founders turned it into a movement that criminalises resistance. It is a painful irony and an unfortunate end to a great liberation movement. We used to be proud of the heroism of its Fedayeen and respect its leaders, but the leadership changed and fell into the clutches of the Zionists and their pernicious ideology.
Ever since the PLO signed the Oslo Accords with the Zionist enemy on 13 September, 1993, according to which Israel was recognised and the clause relating to armed struggle to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea was dropped from the National Charter, the Palestinian people have been lost. All they have reaped from Oslo is the loss of more land and more blood. Israel, meanwhile, has, under the umbrella of the so-called peace process, got what it couldn’t get in war: ever more of the historical land of Palestine to build illegal settlements; and the killing and arrest of ever more Palestinians, all with the collaboration of the “Oslo men”. The main task of the Palestinian Authority security forces is to protect Israel’s illegal settlements and settlers, and suppress Palestinian resistance.
So what reconciliation are the signatories of the Algiers Declaration talking about? The document will join the long list of other agreements that have preceded it; one more to be added to the list of deals that have not been implemented. Palestinian reconciliation: scene one, take ten… and counting.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.