King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia summed up the sentiments of the entire Arab and Muslim worlds well when he said that Palestinian divisions constitute a greater danger to the Palestinians and their cause than all the threats and acts of aggression committed by Israel.
In a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas marking Fateh’s first congress in 20 years, the Saudi king stressed that all Palestinian factions need to come together to make an independent Palestinian state possible.
The Saudi monarch went on to say that Israel was not able, during years of continued aggression, to damage the Palestinian cause as much as the Palestinians did themselves in the past few months. The Saudi king concluded that if the international community agrees to establish an independent Palestinian state, this will not happen as long as the Palestinian house is deeply divided.
The sixth Fateh conference was held in Bethlehem amidst deep cracks between Fateh and Hamas after all mediation efforts by Arabs and non-Arabs failed to end the devastating rift.
Hamas stuck to their guns and prevented Fateh representatives residing in Gaza from travelling to the West Bank to attend the conference. By so doing Hamas has consolidated, and deepened even further, Palestinian divisions. Hamas should have listened to all appeals to allow the Fateh conference to proceed without impediment from any source, especially by the Islamic movement in Gaza.
It is obvious that Hamas has decided to put a higher premium on its own agenda, even at the cost of the overall Palestinians national interests.
At the same time, Fateh could have done more to ease pressures on Hamas by releasing some of their prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Hamas detainees could have been freed, but prevented from leaving the West Bank pending the resolution of their cases.
The biggest tragedy, however, is the fact that the Palestinians have always been divided for no other reason other than the apparent interferences from some Arab and non-Arab capitals.
There is no doubt that Tehran has considerable leverage with Hamas and unless and until the Iranian leadership gives them the green light to put the overriding Palestinian interests above all other considerations, there is not much hope for healing the wounds among the Palestinian leaders.