Nasser Laham
Ma'an News Agency (Analysis)
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

All the elements of success are in place for the upcoming meeting between Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief in exile Khalid Mashaal. Both leaders have realized after five years of bloody infighting and rivalry that unity and reconciliation are inevitable, while sailing further into disagreement would be a mistake.

Those who benefit from the division relished the chance to create an illusion they called disagreement and frequently maintained that conciliation was impossible. But the meeting, scheduled for this week, might put an end to their illusions and reveal them to be nothing more than personal concerns and anxieties.

The Palestinians as a people were never divided: it was only political forces in Ramallah and Gaza who were in dispute. Even that dispute between political forces was not uncontrollable like the ongoing unrest in other Arab countries.

No matter how bitter the past years were, it is time we learned lessons and repaired the rift, especially as both rivals have strong leaders capable of bridging the gap.

President Mahmoud Abbas has made reconciliation one of his own political goals. Despite Hamas’ criticism of him, the movement is aware that he wants to implement reconciliation as soon as possible.

Last summer Abbas proved he had Palestinian chemistry and despite his extravagant use of tactics and his exaggerated pragmatism, he is still capable of steering the wheel toward an independent national decision. Further, he expressed willingness to go to Gaza immediately after a reconciliation agreement was signed, along with the former Arab League secretary-general Amr Mousa and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal is a flexible liberal leader whose personality is strong enough to take a decision and do his best to make sure it is implemented. He has proved, despite his exaggerated use of strategies and his occasional dogmatism, that he is able to lead Hamas toward development and prosperity domestically.

Abbas told Ma'an last month that he was proud to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, and that he knew the desires of the Palestinian people. Mashaal has a degree in physics, and is astute in calculations and measurements. Both leaders have strong senses of responsibility and can surely bring success to Palestinian reconciliation. They also have unprecedented Egyptian sympathy and support both at official and popular levels.

Consequently, to avoid any possible technical obstacles that might deprive us of enjoying and celebrating a reconciliation agreement, both leaders should prevent all kinds of incitement through media outlets. They should also reassure "the anxious parties" -- those who claim agreement is impossible -- that unity is a public interest and not a nightmare.

Fatah and Hamas will eventually be the beneficiaries if unity is achieved and the only loser will be the Israeli occupation.


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