Mohammad Salah
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
December 20, 2009 - 1:00am

An Arab official challenged me and affirmed his conviction that no reconciliation will take place between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. He said that the current situation achieves the interests of the two sides, irrespective of the interest of the Palestinian people. When I asked about the Egyptian mediation efforts and their benefit, and Cairo’s expectation of a response by Hamas to the Egyptian negotiating card, the official said he was certain that Hamas would not agree to it as is. If it did agree, it would set down conditions that the PA would reject later on, describing the Egyptian negotiation card as a “fig leaf” that could hide the Palestinian dispute but not achieve Palestinian unity. The prominent Palestinian official did not want to reveal his identity, as he considered himself to be neutral, and it was a private conversation, which I considered a “letting it all out” on his part. He expressed his hopelessness at finding a solution. He appeared very pessimistic when he said the current generation will only experience Palestinian catastrophes, and that what is currently taking place is the natural result of mistakes that have been made. Most importantly, the Arabs were joyous and felt they had achieved victory when they found a Palestinian president without a Palestinian state, a government without rule, and ministerial portfolios without ministries. The reasons for the struggle became institutionalized among people, organizations and groups that in a previous era moved in the same direction, even if through different means. When they were forced to move on the same path, in the same way, they turned against each other.

The PA wants to return things to the situation pre-coup by Hamas, which means seeing the PA return to Gaza. Hamas, meanwhile, is trying to buy time by cementing the conditions that it has imposed in Gaza since it took over. It seems to be responding to Egyptian efforts to achieve reconciliation, as if doing more than the PA to deal with the division, even though this division secures a presence and survival for Hamas. Thus, the same dates to accomplish a step in the Palestinian domestic arena no longer fool anyone. No elections will take place in January, as specified, nor reconciliation will be achieved according to the agreed upon steps and dates. Thus, the decision to extend the authority of the PA and its president until the holding of elections is logical, since it was taken without setting a date for any elections, because it is clear that they will not take place, even if the PA president said he will not remain in office after mid-2010. The Egyptian “fig leaf” will further stoke the dispute about this issue for a period of time, and if it ends, a new fig leaf will appear, after other meetings, followed by other statements, and vision, to see the efforts renew themselves, in search of another reconciliation, which will also not take place.

Reading between the lines, and leaving behind the crush of media surrounding officials, the struggle is over the presidency of a state that has yet to be established, and a fight over the distribution of ministerial portfolios, without any ministries, and mediation to form a government that does not rule, and which is controlled by parties from every direction. The Palestinian people, meanwhile, is practically speaking divided between Gaza and the West Bank, and does not have the option of revolting against the PA in the West Bank or Hamas in Gaza. The PA and Hamas have put the Palestinian people in a position of waiting to see what happens. There is nothing but more misery, and the Palestinian people always ask the Lord to save them from these disasters, while the occupation is present in all of the streets and surrounds every bit of land. It forbids people when it wants to forbid, and permits them to do things when it has reasons for doing so. As the Egyptian saying has it, “My brothers and I against my cousin, and my cousin and I against the foreigner.” But the reality of the Palestinian situation has changed this adage, as the Palestinians are aware that their present situation is better than tomorrow, because what is coming will be worse. This worse is always the best, for the “foreign” occupier.


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