Fatah and Hamas finally sign unity government agreement, hunger striker brings greater attention to IDF administrative detention, Hamas’ “waning” relationship with Iran and more this week’s top #Palestine stories.
All posts tagged national unity
Last week the House voted to suspend the rules and pass H. Res. 268, a resolution strongly backed by AIPAC and others right-of-center Jewish organizations (and strongly opposed by APN). H. Res. 268 slams the Palestinians for seeking international recognition, for taking their case to the UN, and for seeking national reconciliation – and threatens them with punishment if they don’t desist. I reported in my Round-Up for Americans for Peace Now last week that this vote was unusual, given that since taking control of the House in midterm elections, House Republican leaders have “virtually ended the longstanding practice of bringing non-binding, symbolic resolutions to the floor under suspension of the rules” (in contrast to past Congresses where the practice was rampant). The Washington Post even reported on this change.
Peter Lagerquist, Foreign Policy - The reconciliation accord formally signed by Hamas and Fatah on May 2 is beginning to show its first cracks. The two movements agreed to jointly contest new elections in late 2012 and were scheduled to announce a transitional government in June. But Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s insistence that it should be headed by his current prime minister, Salam Fayyad, infuriated Hamas. The Islamists loathe Fayyad, who has overseen a four-year crackdown on their membership in the West Bank in cooperation with Israeli forces, as much as he is feted by Western chanceries. The latter have agreed to keep funding the PA on the condition that he controls its purse strings. Abbas fears that a new unity government might face a financial crisis similar to that endured in 2006, when Hamas won PA elections. On June 21, he accordingly insisted on his prerogative to choose the new prime minister, formally contravening the text of the reconciliation accord. In response, Hamas complained that he had become little more than a collaborator with Israel.
Declaring that the new government must “preserve room for resistance,” Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh underscored why the odds on this political détente holding up had always seemed steep. If these odds are to improve, both factions will have to make new and steep rhetorical climb-downs. Yet signs indicate that Abbas in particular is reconsidering reconciliation, or at least looking for ways to mitigate the risks to which it has exposed him.
Aaron David Miller - The late Yitzhak Rabin used to say that the only problem with dancing with a bear is that once you start, you can never let go.
Watching the current Hamas-Fatah unity circus, I can’t help but think of Rabin’s comment. For the former Israeli prime minister, Yasir Arafat was the bear and the Oslo process was their choreographed dance. Rabin was no sentimentalist and he recognized Arafat’s many weaknesses as a partner, but he continued to engage with him because he believed his counterpart had taken tough positions. Oslo was a good faith effort to achieve a goal.
The Hamas-Fatah unity gambit signed on Wednesday in Cairo isn’t about good faith, consequential agreements, nor is it about peacemaking. The forging of Palestinian unity is a product of narrower calculations of two key parties — Fatah and Hamas — who are looking for a way to improve their respective positions during a very turbulent and uncertain period. This is an instance of two bears dancing with one another. Israel is right to be wary.