On the Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation
The big news in the Middle East yesterday was the agreement between Fatah and Hamas to constitute a common government of experts, leading to new elections in six months. This reunification happened after very short negotiations and surprised everybody in Israel (apparently including
the Intelligence services).
Israeli experts were quick point out that there have been many such unification ceremonies in the last nine years and, as they all failed on in a short time. But this time is different since one cannot look at this “reunification” out of its context. One reason mentioned by many is the relative weakness of Hamas which is treated as an enemy organization by the present (and probably future) leadership in Egypt.
But, more important is what pushed Fatah to take this step. Simply put, the Israeli and US policies in the last nine months of “negotiations” have pushed Abu Mazen into a corner. He finds himself in an impossible situation in which he has little to show to his people except for three steps (out of four promised) of prisoners release. These were totally negated by accelerated building in the settlements. So Abu Mazen is understandably trying any non-lethal mean possible to reshuffle the cards, with the hope to start a new the negotiations from a stronger position. Those who pushed him into the corner now complain of every step he brandishes to extricate himself: Applying for membership in benign international bodies, talking about disbanding the Palestinian Authority, or now “reunifying” with Hamas.
What exactly Bibi and Kerry expect him to do?
This is a “card reshuffling” step. It is made to end the process of the last nine months which has led to a negative outcome for Abu Mazen. I don’t expect much from Bibi, but Kerry must realize how flawed the process has been so far and inject into it a new paradigm. Coming forward with a concise and fair US framework, and being ready to pull the levers available to the Administration to push both
sides to accept it, will certainly be one such paradigm change.