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The new deal between Fatah and Hamas

Added on February 21, 2012 at 17:20 Swiss time
A few days ago in Iran, Ismail Haniyeh vowed that Hamas would never recognize Israel, that Hamas would fight on until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem and until the return of all Palestinian refugees to Palestine.

Article added on February 20, 2012 at 20:58 Swiss time, updated at 22:44  
Already in the summer of 2011, Fatah and Hamas agreed on new elections. However, until today, they have not materialized. On Monday, February 7, 2012 in Doha, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas (*1935) and the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal (*1956), signed another reconciliation agreement between the two parties, appointing Abbas as the head of an interim government in charge of organizing parliamentary elections in 2012.

Nothing has changed since the
2006 elections, in which Hamas managed a surprise win over Fatah. It all ended in a  Civil War. A real reconciliation has never taken place. Will it be fundamentally different this time? What will PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's role be?

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu quickly condemned the Fatah-Hamas Doha deal: “It's either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel. You can't have both.” He forgot to mention his shameful part in the current situation. In addition to Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel, Israeli settlements remain the main obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority President Abbas met today with Hamas representatives in the West Bank. A Cairo meeting with the Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Meshaal will follow this week. When will the parliamentary elections take place? Who will be part of the unity government composed of technocrats?

For Israel, Hamas remains a terrorist organization. Hamas is in a weaker position because its base within Syria had to be abandoned. The regime of Bashar al-Assad is no longer an asset for Hamas. It has on the contrary become an embarrassing liability for the Hamas leadership. Syria's brutal crackdown on protesters has already cost the lives of some 6,000 to 8,000 people.

The new deal between Fatah and Hamas includes an agreement over security issues. Within days, senior Hamas figures, including Ismail al-Ashkar, questioned whether transparent and fair elections could take place because Fatah had not delivered on confidence building measures.

The Middle East Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia) has communicated it would deal with any Palestinian government that renounces violence, recognizes Israel and supports a negotiated peace deal.

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On the Palestinian side, not only the rift between Fatah and Hamas has to be dealt with, but also a new conflict within Hamas has to be resolved.

Khaled Meshaal, who signed the deal with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, has come under attack from the Hamas Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Prime Minister Haniyeh is looking to Iran for support. The Shia country is in support of a hard line both towards Abbas and Israel. Meshaal is looking towards the Sunni Egypt. The November to January Egyptian parliamentary election produced a clear winner, the Muslim Brotherhood. Haniyeh seems to hold the weaker end. Oil rich Iran's economy is suffering from international sanctions. More importantly, Iran does not share a direct border with Palestine, whereas “Hamastan” in Gaza shares a direct border with Egypt. Weapons and other goods could easily transit from Egypt into the Gaza strip.

Why is Haniyeh looking to Teheran? As Hamas' prime minister in the Gaza strip, he has been in contact with the Muslim Brotherhood. Was he disappointed? Does he just want to sabotage a possible deal with Israel and/or Palestinian elections? Is he afraid of being sidelined in a Palestinian reconciliation deal? Anyway, the rift between Haniyeh and Meshaal is further weakening both of them as well as Hamas as a whole.

The role of the Sunni Salafi movement, which finished second in the Egyptian elections and which enjoys the support of Saudi Arabian Islamists, remains unclear.

Another regional power trying to influence Palestine is rising Turkey with its re-elected Prime Minister Erdogan. Could Turkey become a power broker?

Salam Fayyad is the best respected Palestinian official, but he still has no power base. According to a recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, Fayyad remains the most popular politician in office in Palestine. He enjoys the support of 57% of all Palestinians, including 20% of all Hamas supporters. But even Fayyad is under pressure. He has managed to improve the Palestinian infrastructure, to strengthen the rule of law and to lift the standard of living in the West Bank. However, the Palestinian Authority's 2012 budget of $3.5 billion calculates with a $1.1 billion deficit. That's very far from economically sound. Furthermore, Fayyad was forced to partly backtrack from his January 2012 austerity plan, which included spending cuts, tax hikes and changes to early retirement plans for civil servants.

The Palestinian political situation remains unclear. If elections should take place in 2012, will the loosing party respect the outcome? What will happen in a post-Abbas and a post-Fayyad Palestine? Will the next leaders be trustworthy moderates? Will there be a role for Marwan Barghouti (*1959), the popular leader who may spend the rest of his life in an Israeli prison for murders committed during the Second Intifada?


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Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.