Elias Harfoush
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
February 9, 2012 - 1:00am

The Palestinian reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas should be placed in its right context, i.e. in the context of the transformations witnessed in the Arab region. Indeed, the revolutions are placing the interests of their people ahead of the foreign slogans with which the former regimes used to protect themselves, whether this protection is Western under the slogan of their confrontation of the Islamic movements – as was the case in Tunisia and Egypt – or the protection of the positions of the rejectionist regime which is preoccupied with confrontation and liberation, as is currently the case in Syria.

It is in that sense that Khaled Meshaal’s rush to seal reconciliation with Mahmud Abbas can be understood, despite all what he said about the Palestinian president back when Abu Walid’s residency in Damascus was still possible. It is a rush to place Palestinian unity and the ending of the division above all other considerations - except for the Palestinian interests - as though Meshaal was finally raising his voice to say: ‘enough trading with this cause’, but also to confirm following the signing of the agreement in Doha the return of the unified Palestinian decision on the basis of partnership, whether in the context of the authority or in the context of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Why has this become possible now, after it was not so during the last four years, despite Fatah’s repeated calls to end the anomalous situation in the Gaza Strip which cost the Palestinians blood, economic losses and political paralysis? The answer is that the decision of the Palestinian factions now belongs to these factions and is no longer subjected to the residency considerations and the policies of the regimes, which used to be Hamas’s case with the Syrian regime. The Palestinian organizations’ unity should be a national concern, considering they do not enjoy the luxury of division in light of the pressures they are facing at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

The best assessment of the importance of the delayed agreement between the Palestinians is the Israeli side’s reaction to it. Indeed, Benjamin Netanyahu considered that Abu Mazen should choose between “peace with Hamas and peace with Israel,” in a clear attempt to adopt the traditional accusations which used to be cast by Hamas against the Palestinian president during the days of division.

Certainly, there will be numerous tests facing the implementation of the agreement between the Palestinians, whether inside Fatah whose president Abu Mazen assured once again he did not intend to stay in the presidency, or inside Hamas whose president already announced the same thing, at a time when his last decision in regard to reconciliation is facing objections from senior officials in the movement, both inside and outside of Gaza. This reveals that the Palestinian movement will witness critical changes on the leading levels, with which the unity and reconciliation agreement will remain prone to reviewing and recanting at any time, whether under the pressures of the interests of the domestic leaderships or under foreign pressures.

Nonetheless, what is important is that the Palestinian Doha agreement enjoys more chances of survival than its Lebanese counterpart. The latter agreement aimed at saving Lebanon and protecting - as much as possible - Syria’s interests following its army’s withdrawal. It was signed based on the “no winner, no loser” principle, but collapsed after Damascus recanted the commitments featured in it. On the other hand, the Palestinian agreement was sealed despite the Syrian will, and without taking into account its interests on the Palestinian arena, knowing that these interests were never secured except at the expense of the Palestinians’ unity and the agreement between their factions.


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