Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hamas seeks to reconcile with Fatah at the end of Ramadan

Hamas' Ismail Haniya recently made overtures for reconciliation with Abbas and his Fatah party after having violently expelled them from Gaza in June. While Abbas has made no formal reply to his former prime minister, it is doubtful that Mr. Haniya will receive a favorable response. The security situation in Gaza has steadily been deteriorating due to embargoes, Israeli military strikes, worker strikes and street protests. Haniya, it seems, has been forced to come to terms with a possibly fatal mistake when he attempted to snatch sole control over Palestinian politics.

The former unity government was formed after negotiations which resulted in the Mecca accord. In February a Saudi brokered deal led to a central Palestinian government composed of both Hamas and Fatah. Only four months later, violence erupted in Gaza and Hamas seized sole control of that area.

The Palestinians are once more at a crossroads as the US-sponsored peace talks prepare to kick off in November. Hamas has been calling on all Arab nations to boycott the talks and many Arab nations have only conditionally accepted the invitation to attend. Al Jazeera reported that Haniya, making a speech before prayer marking Eid-al-Fitr, called on Abbas to refuse any calls for concessions from Israel or the U.S. Mr. Abbas will ultimately succeed or fail based on his performance in November. While Hamas is down, it is definitely not out. Any resentment built up towards Hamas in the past few months will fade if Abbas is seen as either ineffectual or an agent of the United States and Israel. However, if he can win real victories with the Israelis (over border issues especially), he will be lauded as the sole representative of the Palestinian cause.