Egypt's stocks close in red on Monday as benchmark EGX 30 dips 0.07%    Egypt's stocks start week higher, benchmark EGX 30 gains 0.48%    Fitch affirms Egypt's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at B+    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Russia to lift COVID restrictions on flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts on Nov. 9    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    Egypt hosts regional conference of EU refugee agency EASO    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia's main Islamist party    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egyptian court bans use of mosques for political purposes    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    Refugees in fear as sentiment turns against them in Turkey    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Huawei Technologies has invested $10 mln over 5 years in innovation centres in Egypt    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

The surprise of Palestinian conciliation comes at a price
Published in Ahram Online on 06 - 05 - 2011

The changing political winds in the Middle East helped guide Fatah and Hamas to reconcile, but if the deal is to endure it is the Palestinian leaders who must stand strong in the face of pressures and challenges
The substance and timing of the announcement that Hamas and Fatah have signed a memorandum of understanding and conciliation took everyone by surprise. Perhaps this was made possible by the era of revolution meaning the Egyptian authorities dealt with this matter in the interests of Egypt and Palestinian alone, rather than those of a third party such as Israel. Contacts were clandestine and alternatives were proposed surreptitiously. Perhaps, also, Hamas and Fatah realised that there is a new Arab mindset as a result of the popular revolutions and that reconciliation would save face for the factions' leadership and restore the prominence of the Palestinian cause on the Arab and international agendas. It would also restore the stature of the groups at the same.
Two factors which explain the surprise
Although it was a surprise to everyone that Hamas and Fatah signed a memorandum of understanding, this unexpected move can be explained with two factors. First, the Egyptian revolution and its role – which are still in the beginning – on rebuilding Egypt's foreign policy, which one way or another would end the reign of the ousted Mubarak regime's legacy of blatant bias towards Israel and the US. Second, the suspension of pressure by Syria and Iran on Hamas that had prevented the group from responding positively to previous Egyptian initiatives. Damascus is busy suppressing a popular uprising in Syria demanding freedom, dignity, ending corruption and domination by the Alawite minority which rules with an iron fist. Meanwhile, Iran is eager to end the diplomatic winter with revolutionary Egypt. This means that Hamas has no more excuses to remain unresponsive.
The same thing can be said about Fatah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and President Abbas, who in the past few months has come under pressure from Israel and the US, blocking sincere efforts with Hamas to end Palestinian division. The US has suddenly withdrawn and a settlement seems to be on its death bed. Meanwhile, Israel is under the impression that the PA has no alternatives other than accept the morsels it is being offered, that Abbas's hands are tied, and that reconciliation among Palestinians is impossible, according to Israeli intelligence reports given to Netanyahu's government over the past few weeks.
Surprise substance
All these factors explain the surprise timing of the move in general, and the role of the new Arab environment in providing an incentive to end the dilemma of Palestinian fractures. But timing was not the only unexpected element or what facilitated the agreement; the content of the deal is also surprising. The conciliation agreement previously drafted by Egyptian intelligence after intense discussions with various Palestinian factions before the collapse of Mubarak's regime (signed by Fatah in October, 2009), remains the basis of today's Palestinian conciliation deal. An explanatory annex was added for some of the understandings, steps and coordination issues expected in the coming phase.
According to the memorandum of understanding, signed on Wednesday in Cairo by Fatah and Hamas as well as other Palestinian factions and unaligned figures, there are several commitments which all parties must abide by. These include forming five committees responsible for reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), preparing for elections, a committee on prisoners of war and another to reform security agencies and organising presidential and parliamentarian elections, as well as balloting for the Palestinian National Council within one year.
The priorities of the interim government
Both sides agreed to form a transitional government with six priorities: preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as balloting for the National Council; supervising the implementation of the Egyptian plan; resolving issues regarding charities and NGOs; managing the security and administrative problems resulting from Palestinian division; unifying PA institutions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem; and continuing efforts to end Israel's siege of Gaza and reconstruction there.
This government's agenda is primarily organisational and does not include any of the issues which had prevented Hamas from signing the Egyptian conciliation proposal about 18 months ago. It also indicates agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the two largest Palestinian factions, and not a comprehensive deal incorporating all Palestinian factions, although some items pertain to the PLO which is the umbrella for all Palestinian forces except for Hamas. It also refers to security agencies which are everyone's concern, not only Fatah's and Hamas's.
It is unclear how willing Hamas will be to relinquish control over security in the Gaza Strip, or agree to cooperate with Fatah and other Palestinian factions to create a positive atmosphere to make conciliation successful. And if Hamas agreed to this, will forces in society which were born while Hamas ruled the Gaza Strip agree to surrender some of their privileges for the sake of the greater cause and a common fate? If these forces do not agree to compromise, how will Hamas handle the situation?
The significance of the conciliation deal is that it defined the nature of the new joint government which will be formed soon. It is an interim government of independent figures who have national and professional credentials recognised by both sides. This will make the transitional phase until elections nationalistic overall, and the players will be technocrats who are accepted by all Palestinian forces. This is under the assumption that all factions will agree to this proposal, and that everyone will cooperate with these independent figures.
A government removed from negotiations
It is apparent that the role of the next government will mostly focus on internal issues, and therefore the negotiations process – if talks are relaunched in some shape or form – will be the responsibility of the PLO. This government will not be conflicted in any way because it will not include members from Hamas, which the US and Israel view as a terrorist organisation and it is censured by the EU for not recognising Israel.
President Abbas said so when emphasising that the peace process is his and the PLO's responsibility, and accordingly if talks begin in the future they will not be affected by conciliation with Hamas since the group will not be a member of the new government, neither will Fatah be. As for internal issues, these are a domestic affair, subject to compromises and balancing the various Palestinian forces.
Israeli threats and compounded myopia
Israel, as well as the US which is slow to do anything to revive the peace process, views Palestinian conciliation through another lens which refuses to see what is occurring in the Arab region, and its future repercussions on the regional balance of power. Both have reiterated the same statements about Hamas being a terrorist group that must make the ultimate sacrifice of completely accepting all Quartet preconditions, before they will even consider dealing with it as a legitimate Palestinian faction with a Palestinian and Arab following.
Abbas is also being forced to choose between Israel and Hamas, according to Netanyahu's statements, with threats to stop dealing with Abbas as a relevant figure for Israel. This could lead to putting him under siege in Ramallah. There are also threats that Palestinian conciliation could prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, and possibly freezing the handover of taxes levied by Israel on behalf of the PA, according to the extreme-right minister Avigdor Lieberman.
These threats signify the calcification of Israeli cognisance and its inability to correctly interpret what is occurring in the Arab region overall, and Egypt in particular. These Israeli threats, supported by the US, put a burden not only Abbas and the PA but also Hamas which shoulders the greater responsibility to make conciliation a success and exit the bottle neck.

Clic here to read the story from its source.