by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly
Islamic Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party need more steps to strengthen Palestine’s internal unity, Palestinian analysts said on Saturday.
The two Palestinian rival groups announced on Thursday that they agreed to unify their positions against Israeli annexation plan.
Jibril al-Rajoub, member of Fatah movement’s Central Committee, and Saleh Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas politburo, made this announcement during a joint online conference held in both Ramallah and Lebanon’s Beirut.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that it could begin the annexation process from July 1, including annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley.
It is still unclear whether the Israeli government intends to follow through with plans to apply Israeli law over contentious territories in the West Bank and to what extent.
Adnan Abu Aamer, political analyst from Gaza, said that the announcement “is an important step towards ending the big inertness that influenced the achievement of the internal reconciliation.”
“What happened between Fatah and Hamas on Thursday was a good start and a symbolic step … although many obstacles need to be resolved between the two rivals,” said Abu Aamer.
The internal division between Fatah and Hamas started 13 years ago when the latter routed the security forces of President Abbas and seized the Gaza Strip.
Over the past 13 years, the two rivals have reached several agreements and understandings. The last one was brokered by Egypt in October 2017, when both agreed on moving power in the coastal enclave to the Palestinian Authority.
However, they failed to implement the agreement because of deep differences over security affairs and payment of salaries to civil servants that Hamas has appointed.
Differences mounted after they traded accusations on who was responsible for attacking the convoy of former Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah by a roadside bomb in northern Gaza Strip in 2018.
In April 2019, Abbas asked Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye to form a new government without consultation with Hamas.
Hani al-Masri, director of the Ramallah-based Masarat Center for Research and Studies, said that the joint online conference between Fatah and Hamas leaders “showed a possibility for the two sides to work jointly despite their internal feuds.”
There is a need to make more practical steps to end the internal division,” al-Masri said.
However, he expressed concerns that the current rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas might be just a tactic to exert more pressure on Israel.
The Palestinians and the international community opposed Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, considering it as a violation of the international law.
Talal Oukal, Gaza-based political analyst, said that the annexation plan “can be an important step for the Palestinians towards ending 13 years of the internal division.”
“Theoretically, all Palestinians agree on rejecting the U.S. Mideast peace plan and the Israeli annexation plan, but I think the Palestinians, mainly Fatah and Hamas, will not be able to confront the two plans as long as they are divided,” he said.
Aatef Abu Seif, Ramallah-based analyst, said that the internal division between Fatah and Hamas has weakened the Palestinian front in facing all the current political challenges, mainly the Israeli annexation.
“The current status of the division will not only weaken the Palestinians’ power to confront the U.S. and Israel plans, but also give power to the occupation (Israel) to easily implement its plans without any real Palestinian resistance,” said Abu Seif.
Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip and acts as an independent entity, while the Palestinians Authority, headquartered in Ramallah, tries to resolve the internal division.
However, the endless differences between the two sides may make it impossible to unite and end their feuds. Enditem