Any agreement without Hamas would have failed miserably. The reconciliation can be seen as a breakthrough - that is, if the Israeli government was indeed interested in ending the occupation.
Prime Minister Netanyahu must be feeling lucky today. With the deadline on the talks between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. approaching, Netanyahu was finding himself increasingly cornered. Even Secretary Kerry, who did all he could to meet Israel’s demands, ended up placing most of the blame for the impasse on the Israeli side, which refused to honor its commitment on the release of prisoners, and sabotaged the process with record-breaking settlement construction.
But as soon as news of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah broke, it was back to the old Bibi. “Abu Mazen prefers unity with Hamas over peace with Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, along with a “Please RT.” (As I finished up this post, Israel also attacked Gaza and canceled meetings with Palestinian negotiators.)
With the deal, Netanyahu had a perfect alibi: after all, if Abbas is back to doing business with an organization that refuses to recognize Israel and believes in armed resistance, one cannot blame the Israeli government for abandoning the peace process. There must be some disappointment this evening inside the Israeli-American “peace camp,” and I am pretty sure that soon enough we will hear rants about “the Palestinians not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Please RT this important message: Abu Mazen prefers unity with Hamas over peace with Israel pic.twitter.com/YPiJofw4No
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 23, 2014
However, for those truly interested in an end to the occupation and in an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, the Hamas-Fatah deal is great news, especially for supporters of the two-state solution. Here is why:
In recent years, the Palestinian Authority suffered from a major problem of legitimacy. Often, critics of the process – the most notable being Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – complained that Abbas doesn’t represent even half of the Palestinian people. Of all of Lieberman’s observations, this was probably the most accurate. Any agreement that Abbas would have reached was bound to leave Hamas a major opponent of the process, repeating some of the Oslo dynamic on the Palestinian side.
The PA has also had a serious accountability problem – at times it isn’t clear whose interests Ramallah is representing. Hamas is not the...Read More