Wednesday’s “historic” agreement between Hamas and Fatah should be seen in the context of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts to send a message to Israel and the US concerning the crisis in the peace talks.
Abbas’s message: Look what I’m capable of doing if you don’t comply with my demands.
The timing of the Fatah-Hamas accord is not coincidental. One week before the expiration of the April 29 deadline for the peace talks with Israel, Abbas has clearly decided to try every available maneuver to exert pressure on Israel and the US.
His first move came two weeks ago in the form of a televised ceremony in which he signed applications to join 15 international treaties.
Then came threats to resign, dismantle the PA and “hand the keys back to Israel.”
He later moved on to a tactic aimed at influencing Israeli public opinion. In the past week, he has met with MKs and journalists in a bid to win the sympathy of the Israeli public.
Realizing that his moves have had almost no impact on decision-makers in Israel and the US, Abbas finally resorted to the issue of reconciliation and unity with Hamas.
After years of hostility, he has suddenly discovered that Hamas can be a “real national partner” for his Fatah faction.
Yet Abbas knows that Hamas has not and will not change. Even after the agreement was announced in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders continued to voice their opposition to the peace talks with Israel and the twostate solution.
Abbas also knows that there is nothing “historic” about this agreement, the fourth of its kind since 2007. In fact, the latest accord is just another agreement to implement previous agreements and understandings between Hamas and Fatah.
Since 2007, Palestinians have witnessed many handshakes and kisses between Hamas and Fatah leaders in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Egypt and now the Gaza Strip.
In the past three years, similar agreements to implement previous “historic” accords were announced by Fatah and Hamas, but never materialized.
It’s one thing to achieve reconciliation and agreements to implement previous deals. But it’s a completely different thing to achieve real unity and end the division between Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas is unlikely to cede control over the Gaza Strip to Abbas. Fatah, for its part, is not going to allow Hamas to establish bases of power in the West Bank.
Abbas has only one thing in mind: how to extract concessions from Israel and the US. If the new maneuver with Hamas does not work, he will have to think of something else he can pull from his sleeve.