Ahmad Majdoubeh
The Jordan Times (Opinion)
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

While many are lukewarm about or totally disinterested in the reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas, many have welcomed it warmly, seeing some hope in it for a future Palestinian state.
Those who are either lukewarm or disinterested see the reconciliation, at best, as a marriage of convenience - perhaps even inconvenience. Fateh is largely liberal and secular, and Hamas is largely reactionary and theological.

With such a radical difference in ideology and outlook, how can they both manage a deteriorating Palestinian situation, territorially, socially, economically and politically? Difference is ultimately celebrated, but not when the parties involved are at loggerheads and when mistrust prevails - as is the case with Fateh and Hamas.

Many are disappointed with both. Fateh, largely composed of either pseudo ex-communists or left-wing romantics turned businessmen and opportunists, is incompetent and corrupt. Hamas, largely composed of extremists and reactionaries, is obsolete and subversive.

However, those who welcome the reconciliation see it in the interest of the Palestinian people. At this point in time, the Palestinians are between a rock (the ruthless Israeli occupation) and a hard place (the selfish Fateh and Hamas). While the Palestinians deserve a better leadership than Fateh and Hamas, this is all they have at present.

A separation between the West Bank (ruled by Fateh) and Gaza Strip (ruled by Hamas) harms the Palestinians a lot. It, among many other things, separates families, contributes to further division and conflict within the Palestinian family at large, and brings disastrous military actions by Israel against civilian Gazans every time Hamas launches its silly, ineffective missiles against Israelis. It also sabotages and aborts any hopes the Palestinians have with respect to statehood. And this is a crucial point.

Let’s look at the facts on the ground. Israel does not want peace. This is all too obvious by now. While the US is always willing to “engage” Israel and the Palestinians, it is always unwilling to pressure Israel into a settlement. And it always leans in favour of Israel. This is also all too obvious.

In the absence of a genuine Israeli interest in peace and of a concerted US effort or determination to bring peace about in the Middle East, there can be no peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, now or in the foreseeable future.

This is the reality right now.

Under such circumstances, what should the Palestinians do?

They, in my opinion, should do one thing only: declare their state and seek further international recognition, no matter what. Already there are many countries, in Latin America, in Europe, in Asia, in Africa and elsewhere that have recognised the Palestinian state or are ready to do so.

When Israel unanimously declared its “independence” in 1948 (on territory usurped from the Palestinians), it did not care much about what others thought or advised. Similarly, the Palestinians (who are declaring a state on their own land!) should not hesitate to do so.

When Israel declared its independence, very few states recognised it. More states have already recognised the Palestinian state or are willing to do so.

The circumstances, at this point in time, are conducive to such a declaration. Already nearly all countries in the world recognise the two-state solution. This is an explicit recognition of the Palestinian state. Even in Israel, there is a lot of sympathy and support by Israeli intellectuals and others for a Palestinian state.

Before and beyond all of this, of course, the Palestinians, like any people on this small globe of ours, are entitled to a homeland and to statehood. It is their inalienable right to declare a state.

The reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas is an important step in this direction. Now that the reconciliation is taking place, and the Palestinian territory under Palestinian control is undivided, it is both possible and logical to do so.

One sincerely wishes that Fateh and Hamas put not only their differences aside but also their selfishness and shortsightedness, and live up to the aspirations of the Palestinian people and the challenges of the times.

To do so, and for the future Palestinian state to be successful, Fateh and Hamas - now mere “revolutionary” factions - must evolve into real, viable political parties. This is the only way that the Fateh-Hamas relationship will be meaningful, and this is the only way Fateh and Hamas can serve the Palestinian people and state.

One also wishes that, for once, the Palestinian leadership, deriving inspiration from the freedom movements in the region, will muster all the courage to declare the Palestinian state and the right of the Palestinian people to a home and to freedom, with or without the US’ or Israel’s blessings.

For more than two decades now, the Palestinians have actively sought America’s and Israel’s approval of any step they take and coordinated closely and obediently with both, in an attempt to achieve their legitimate rights and peace. The close coordination and obedience have not worked.

Today, the Palestinians are back to square one: farther from peace than at any previous moment in time. What would they lose if they disregard America’s and Israel’s dislike of the declaration of the Palestinian state? They lose nothing beyond what they have already lost


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