On Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah reached a reconciliation agreement that includes the formation of a unity government that will last until general elections are held within one year. The groups claimed that all areas of disagreement had been settled, including with security arrangements. It is being hailed as an achievement, but it ends the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and is bound to ultimately fail.
The Arab Spring motivated Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to pressure their governments to come together. In mid-March, thousands of Palestinians protested in favor of reconciliation in both Palestinian Territories. In Gaza, dozens of protesters went further and demanded the release of political prisoners and greater freedoms and were forcibly dispersed and threatened with arrest.
Each side tried to deflect the blame onto the other. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for presidential and legislative elections in September on the condition that Gaza was included. Hamas announced a minor shakeup of its government and presented an offer for a unity government that was rejected. Now, both sides have caved to domestic opinion and have agreed to create a joint transitional government.
The Israeli government is understandably concerned. This agreement means that the Palestinian Authority will no longer act as an enemy of Hamas. The terrorist group will have increased influence over the West Bank and its security services, ending previous undisclosed cooperation between Fatah and Israel. Hamas’ war against Israel will never give up its war against Israel and Fatah will be forced to join in or abandon the unity government. A spokesman for Hamas says that the agreement stipulates that prisoners without a criminal background will be released. It is unclear what this means, but it should be assumed that those involved in acts of terrorism will soon be freed.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.” He’s right. Last year, a Hamas official unequivocally stated that any agreement to have an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders would only be a first phase towards the ultimate destruction of Israel. For Hamas, the “peace process” is a means to an end.
Fatah isn’t the best peace partner, either. President Abbas has said that an independent Palestinian state would not have a single Jew living it, which makes peace impossible. Last year, Abbas called the family of Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich, to offer his condolences after his death. The Fatah Revolutionary Council also celebrated him as a hero. However, Fatah is definitely preferred over Hamas by Israel.
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