Unified Palestine still unlikely after Hamas's new manifesto
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
ISTANBULMay 06, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
May 06, 2017 12:00 am
After Hamas presented its new party manifesto, people began to look to a possibility of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Although the two parties declared they reached an agreement in January after negotiations in Moscow, there has been no major step. On the contrary, the Palestinian Authority has stopped delivering electricity to Gaza, which already suffers from energy shortages and an Israeli blockade. Still, there is hope for reconciliation, but the Palestinian Authority's statement, saying that the new party manifesto offers nothing new, has decreased the possibility of an imminent agreement.
The Hamas group declared its new program on Monday in Qatar's capital Doha, disavowing itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, distancing itself from aims of destroying Israel and accepting the 1967 borders of the Palestinian state, without referring to Israel's legitimate statehood. Hamas also signaled its acceptance of a two-state solution through an alliance with its main rival, the Fatah Party, since the manifesto recognizes the Palestinian Authority as the representative for all Palestinians. However, in a statement, quoted by WAFA news agency, Fatah officials said the document had nothing new.
"Being a realist politically is a good thing if it is within the frame of unity and national consensus and if the policies are in harmony with international resolutions and not ambiguous and inconsistent. By taking this position, is Hamas really seeking national unity or is it just presenting its credentials," said Fatah, adding, "nothing signals that Hamas is actually moving toward national unity."
It was reported that the two parties' members met in Gaza on April 18 to seek a way toward unification and coping with Gaza's problems. Fatah demanded Hamas dissolve its administrative committee and hold a new local election. Al-Aqsa Voice quoted Salah al-Bardawil, a member of Hamas' political bureau, as saying, "We agreed with the Fatah delegation that the consensus government take over governance of the Gaza Strip, and that the administrative committee … steps aside once the government takes over its full functions." Before the meeting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' words in Bahrain, saying "unprecedented measures" will be taken to end the Palestinian split had sparked anger in Gaza. Accordingly, measures have been revealed by Abbas. It was cutting Gaza's electricity. Abbas told Israel it would no longer pay for the electricity Israel supplies to Gaza, a move that could lead to a complete power shutdown in the territory, whose 2 million people already endure blackouts for much of the day. Israel does not engage directly with Hamas, regarding the Islamist group as a terrorist organization, according to Euronews. The move by Abbas and the latest statement regarding Hamas' new party manifesto lessened hopes.
Abbas's main aim was to receive support from recently inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump, as the leaders met in Washington and exchanged warm messages. Since Trump has been explicitly supporting Israel and the U.S. considers Hamas a terror group, Abbas played on Trump. However, he missed that Hamas' recent move was to seek legitimacy through disavowing itself from both the Muslim Brotherhood, which is on a terror list created by the Trump administration, and Iran and its proxies. A statement by Hezbollah clearly showed its discontent as it said there would be no help any more since Hamas recognized the 1967 borders. Yet the 1967 borders issue was the pretext, as Hamas was under pressure from the Gulf and Egypt to soften its tone.
Due to the complexity of the issue and the fact that the parties' interests differ, a unified Palestine would be very surprising at this time. Moreover, Hamas and Fatah have a bloody history, and both sides have imprisoned dozens for having links with the rival party. In 2007, when Hamas won elections in Gaza and ended Fatah's rule, deadly clashes occurred between the two parties' sympathizers. Moreover, Hamas is considered a terror organization by the U.S. and Israel, while Fatah is the most favored Palestinian faction. In the case of unification, Israel and the U.S.'s reactions are uncertain.