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The move towards new elections by Fatah and Hamas
Article added on July 2, 2011
  
Palestine is slowly moving towards the establishment of a universally recognized and fully functioning state. Fatah and Hamas wanted to form a unity government in order to seek recognition as an independent state by the United Nations General Assembly in September.

However, not only do the United States oppose such a move, but the fragile reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has not gone very far since the April 27 and May 4, 2011 deal signed in Cairo.

The rivalry between the two Palestinian factions remains too strong. So far, Fatah and Hamas have neither established a unity government nor finalized the details regarding new parliamentary and presidential elections agreed upon in Cairo.

Many obstacles lay ahead of international and Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state. First and foremost the 1988 anti-Semitic Hamas Charter, which is asking for the destruction of the state of Israel, has to be repealed.

In November 2008, the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told a group of European parliamentarians that the Hamas government was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as well as to offer a long-term truce (hudna) with Israel if, in return, Israel fully recognized the Palestinians' rights. However, until today, a full recognition of the state of Israeli by Hamas remains on the table.

Minor issues remain too. Hamas is still asking for the release of a thousand Palestinian prisoners, including many men convicted of murdering Israeli's, in order to release Gilad Shalit, the famous Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinians in 2006. The release of Gilad Shalit could be a first symbolic move towards a normalization of the relations between Hamas and Israel.

Ismaïl Haniyeh's condemnation of Bin Laden's liquidation by the USA was not very helpful either. It offered Netanyahu's government another argument not to negotiate with the Palestinian side now including Hamas.

Will the compromise between Fatah and Hamas hold? It was the fruit of the pressure of Palestinian citizens on their politicians in the wake of the Arab Spring”, which is fundamentally transforming the region.

Protesters in the Gaza strip were asking for a Palestinian reconciliation. Assad's regime in Syria is close to crumbling. In any case, it has lost its legitimacy. With Assad, a Hamas power base is in danger.

Palestinian President Abbas on the other side knows that presidential and parliamentary elections are overdue. He cannot talk in the name of all Palestinians. A continued division could lead to a definitive split into two entities: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The end of Mubarak's regime in Egypt meant the loss of a regional ally for Abbas.

In 2006, Hamas won 48.3% and Fatah 43.8% of the Palestinian vote. After new elections, it is well possible that the losing side will question the result. Therefore,
free and fair elections under international supervision are urgently needed. Only a president, a government and a parliament with the backing of the majority of the Palestinian citizens will be legitimate to act on behalf of all Palestinians.

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As for the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he is not among the constructive forces in the region either. With the very reliable Abbas and Fayyad, he could have gone much further. To develop the commerce between the West Bank and Israel was surely the right thing to do. However, Netanyahu's improvements of economic relations were not intended as a first step towards mutual recognition, but as a continuation of Sharon's obstruction policy: delay the establishment of a Palestinian government until the cows come home. Economic goodies for Palestinians are not an alternative to political rights.

Netanyahu is of course right to insist on the recognition of the Israeli state by Hamas. At the same time, his coalition government with Lieberman and the ultra-orthodox parties is anything but a peace offer. Continued settlements show his true intentions.

As for President Obama, he rightly asked for an end to settlements. When Netanyahu refused to do so, the American president reversed his position, further undermining the US credibility as a fair arbiter in the region.

Many countries are fed up with Israel. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador and Bolivia have recognized the Palestinian state in 2011. His speech to Congress was not a recipe for peace. Time is running out for Netanyahu.

The same holds true for Abbas (*1935). He repeatedly said that he will not stand for reelection. Fatah remains a corrupt party. Will the reconciliation between the religious and the secular Palestinians be possible? It is time for the creation of new Palestinian parties with new faces and fresh ideas.


Below the full text of the April 27 and May 4, 2011 Cairo Agreement between Fatah and Hamas
(translated by Al Mubadara of the Palestinian National Initiative by Mustafa Barghouti):

This document is currently in the process of being signed by all of Palestine’s factions and parties.

Under the auspices of Egypt, delegations from the Fatah and Hamas movements met in Cairo on April 27, 2011 to discuss the issues concerning ending the political division and the achievement of national unity. On top of the issues were some reservations related to the Palestinian National Unity Accord made in 2009.

Both political parties mutually agreed that the basis of understanding made during the meeting are committing to both parties in the implementation of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement. The basis of understanding agreed upon by Fatah and Hamas are as follows.

1. Elections

A. Election Committee:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to identify the names of the members of the Central Election Commission in agreement with the Palestinian factions. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President who will issue a decree of the reformation of the committee.

B. Electoral Court:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree on the nomination of no more than twelve judges to be members of the Electoral Court. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President in order to take the necessary legal actions to form the Electoral Court in agreement with the Palestinian factions.

C. Timing of Elections:

The Legislative, Presidential, and the Palestinian National Council elections will be conducted at the same time exactly one year after the signing of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement.

2. Palestine Liberation Organization

The political parties of both Fatah and Hamas agree that the tasks and decisions of the provisional interim leadership cannot be hindered or obstructed, but in a manner that is not conflicting with the authorities of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

3. Security

It was emphasized that the formation of the Higher Security Committee which will be formed by a decree of the Palestinian President and will consist of professional officers in consensus.

4. Government

A. Formation of the Government:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to form a Palestinian government and to appoint the Prime Minister and Ministers in consensus between them.

B. Functions of the Government:

1. Preparation of necessary condition for the conduction of Presidential, Legislative and the Palestinian National Council elections.

2. Supervising and addressing the prevalent issues regarding the internal Palestinian reconciliation resulting from the state of division.

3. Follow-up of the reconstruction operations in the Gaza Strip and the efforts to end the siege and blockade that is imposed on it.

4. Continuation of the implementation of the provisions of the Palestinian National Accord.

5. To resolve the civil and administrative problems that resulted from the division.

6. Unification of the Palestinian National Authority institutions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

7. To fix the status of the associations, Non-Governmental Organizations and charities.

5. Legislative Council:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to reactivate the Palestinian Legislative Council in accordance to the Basic Law.

- Fatah
- Hamas
- Islamic Jihad
- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- Palestinian People’s Party
- Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
- Palestinian Liberation Front
- Arab Liberation Front
- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command
- Baath Arab Socialist Party (al-Saika)
- Palestinian Arab Front
- Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA)
- Popular Resistance Committees [observer status only]








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