Would peace failure lead to achieving Palestinian reconciliation?

22:22, December 16, 2010      

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The Middle East peace process is obviously in a deep standstill due to Israel's insistence not to freeze settlement construction in the Palestinian territories and the Palestinian leadership's insistence that there will be no peace talks amid a continuation of settlement activities.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian political powers, mainly the rival Islamic Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, are still trying to end their rifts, reach a reconciliation and reunite the Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas since June 2007 and the West Bank ruled by Abbas.

Leaders of Fatah and Hamas announced two days ago that they are scheduled to meet for the third time in Damascus to reach an agreement on reforming the Palestinian security apparatuses, a sticky issue that is a substantial principle and a power sharing between the two rival groups.

Now that the United States had already failed to convince Israel to freeze settlement construction for three months and give a new opportunity for peace talks to succeed, would the Palestinian factions end their split amid a standstill peace process? Analysts believe they have to, but still face difficulties.

Mekhemer Abu Se'da, a political science professor at al-Azhar University in Gaza City, told Xinhua that as long as the peace process in the Middle East "has reached such a deadlock, the Palestinian feuding parties are supposed to reconcile and cut the highway for Israel and the U.S."

"But unfortunately, there are apparently other reasons that make it difficult for the two rivals, Fatah and Hamas, to reconcile, mainly the personal interest of each group and some other external influences that force them not to reconcile and end their rifts," said Abu Se'da.

Fatah party is the main leading faction in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is considered a secular party that accepted the choice of peace with Israel to reach a permanent solution and establish a Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. The PLO recognized Israel in 1988.

However, Hamas movement, which is part of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood movement (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), which rejects to recognize Israel, believes that "all the land of Palestine is an Islamic land." However, recently the group said it would temporarily accept a Palestinian state on 1967 borders territories.

Azzam al-Ahmad, head of Fatah movement delegation to the dialogue with Hamas, announced two days ago that the meeting in Damascus will be held during the last week of December, without setting up a specific date. However, he expressed hope that the upcoming meeting will be the last for an agreement.

Muhanad Abdel Hamid, a West Bank political analyst, told Xinhua that the upcoming meeting "is crucial amid the Israeli stubbornness not to freeze settlement construction," adding that " the language of the two rival groups has to be based on a common language of ending the Israeli occupation."

"I believe that the parties, which don't understand the importance of this issue, which is ending the Israeli occupation, and keep insisting on their positions, will not be able to end their differences and their feuds would be indefinite," said Abdel Hamid.

Other Palestinian observers believe that succeeding the peace process and achieving an inter-Palestinian reconciliation are two important and essential issues for the Palestinian people, adding that peace and reconciliation are parallel and their success would help the Palestinians to be more united.

"I believe that all the previous and current justifications of the two rival groups are not convincing either the naive or the intellectual Palestinians, where all local and international polls say that the majority of the Palestinians are eager for peace and reconciliation," said Abdel Hamid.

In recent weeks, both Fatah and Hamas had commonly agreed on establishing an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital is an accepted solution regardless of their charters' strategies, so they just need to agree on other issues.

"Depending on previous experiences, it was clear that the Palestinian political powers and factions can't solve their disputes away from the large popular Palestinian base. So I rule out that those factions would succeed in ending their feuds without getting the support of the people," said Abdel Hamid.

Source: Xinhua
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