Palestinian Unity Deal Struggling, Again

A reconciliation deal between the two main Palestinian factions—Gaza’s Hamas and the Fatah party led by President Mahmoud Abbas—is sputtering yet again, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. The two rivals first signed a deal in May that would set up a technocrat interim government and pave the way for new elections next year, but so far the arrangement has not been implemented. Ma’an reported that a Hamas official said committees working on the details have made limited progress.

Not surprisingly, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) for the lack of movement while also expressing concern about increasing political detentions by Fatah. “Seemingly there is a problem within the PA negatively affecting reconciliation efforts,” Barhoum was quoted by Ma’an as saying. The negative comments come just weeks after Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal made headlines with a significant meeting in Egypt.

The Palestinian accord has sparked controversy in the United States and Israel, as Hamas has yet to renounce violence or accept Israel’s right to exist. Considering the fact that the PA coordinates security with Israel—with Hamas a shared opponent for both—the possibility that the PA and the terrorist Hamas group could join up and coordinate security forces has been a concern for the Israelis.

The plan is for the Palestinians to hold parliamentary elections next May for the first time since 2006, but senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad has said that the elections won’t happen until a new Palestinian unity cabinet is formed.

Talk of reconciliation that ultimately goes nowhere isn’t new to Palestinians politics. Hamas and Fatah split in 2007 following a bloody coup in which Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and effectively forced Fatah out. Multiple attempts to reunite the sides have failed.

(By Staff,, December 12, 2011)