Palestinians see the Hamas-Fatah unity deal to be signed in Cairo
today as strengthening their push for statehood. But they say that
reconciliation will be a year-long project at least.
As the two leading Palestinian factions came together in Cairo
today to sign a reconciliation pact, Palestinians are optimistic
that the Arab Spring may help mend a four-year split and strengthen
their push for statehood.
"The opinion of all Palestinians is to get united. It brings them
a sense of power, and a sense of strength, and a sense of unity to
be able to deal with Israel," says Bassem Ezbedi, a political
science professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. He
acknowledged that there are "all sorts of obstacles," some of which
could be "explosive."
Indeed, just as Arab countries around the region are grappling
with new forms of government, Palestinians understand that achieving
harmony between the Islamist militant rulers of the Gaza and the
Western-backed secular party that controls the West Bank will be a
year-long project at least.
Hamas-Fatah divide evident over bin Laden's death
Fundamental differences persist between Hamas and Fatah, as
underscored by their contradictory responses to Osama bin Laden's
death this week.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Monday praised Osama Bin Laden as
an Arab "holy warrior," and condemned the US raid that killed him.
The Fatah-dominated PA welcomed his death, however, with Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad saying he hoped it marked "the beginning of
the end for this dark era."
Two opposing security doctrines
Despite sounding upbeat about the reconciliation deal,
politicians from Fatah and Hamas give differing interpretations of
what it means for Hamas's doctrine of armed uprising against Israel
or the Palestinian Authority's security coordination with Israel.
Sheikh Fadel Hamdan, a Hamas legislator in the West Bank, said
that Hamas would only give up the right to armed "resistance"
against Israel at "the final stage" of an agreement. (Hamas has said
it is willing to consider an open-ended cease fire with Israel but
not a conclusive peace treaty.) He called the PA and Israel's
security cooperation "problematic," arguing that it doesn't help the
Azzam Abu Baker, a Fatah official, says the security coordination
with Israel is a necessary fact of life aimed at preventing Israel's
military from overrunning Palestinian cities in the West Bank. As
for Hamas' armed militia, he asserted that the unity agreement
doesn't allow either side to act unilaterally against Israel.
Prof. Ezbeidi says that merging two opposing security doctrines
is only one of a myriad of issues that could doom the agreement. …