By Alexander Vatutin
Palestine’s Fatah and Hamas rival factions have finally sealed their reconciliation in Cairo. Observers find this controversial and fear that Palestine will toughen its position on the Middle East settlement.
The parties split up five years ago when Islamic Hamas took the blockaded Gaza Strip under its control while liberal Fatah controlled the West Bank of Jordan. This put the country on the verge of a civil war. Despite the conflict, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas who also headed Palestine’s National Authority carried on representing Palestine in the global arena which bothered Hamas members. Both parties blamed each other for the split.
Israel, meanwhile, benefited from the situation claiming that it’s impossible to make peace with a divided country. Hamas in its turn refused to acknowledge Israel, unlike Fatah. Thus, Tel Aviv only heated up the anti-Israeli stance of the Arab world. The conflict was finally mediated by Egypt when Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group joined the Palestine liberation Organization headed by Abbas.
The first post-reconciliation measure in Palestine will be setting free all political prisoners except those who fear the Israeli special services or revenge from the victims of the attacks. Then the parties plan to pave the way for parliamentary elections to form the national unity government. Experts wonder how this will affect Palestine’s attitude towards Israel. The more reluctant Israel is in refusing to acknowledge Palestine’s claims then the more radical the latter becomes. Many experts consider the current situation as a deadlock. Expert in Oriental Studies Sergei Demidenko says:
“Palestine will hardly become more radical towards Israel. The latter has a stone-wall stance that it will not take part in talks featuring Hamas. That’s the main point of Israeli’s foreign policy and its view on the Middle East peace process.”
“Palestine is not ready with its position yet. Moreover, peace talks are unlikely to be held soon, especially after Hamas has joined the government. Both parties are bound by internal processes in Palestine and Israel and the current situation seems to have no way out.”
Israeli’s Prime Minister has confirmed Palestine’s recognition of a Jewish state is condition sine qua non for the talks. The situation is worsened by the West which is not unanimous about the crisis. While the US lists Hamas as a terrorist organization, Europe is ready for compromise.
Observers agree that the only country which could have a say in the conflict is Russia which is able to influence both Fatah and Hamas and understands that the Middle East will see no peace until Israel receives safety guarantees.