Fatah Hamas press conference 521.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
No matter how one looks at it, the Palestinian reconciliation deal is a victory
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Ironically, the victory is being handed to Hamas by the two
parties that until recently made tremendous efforts to delegitimize and
undermine it: Fatah and Egypt.
Moreover, the timing could not have been
better for Hamas.
The Egyptian-sponsored deal came amid signs that Hamas
was beginning to lose its grip on the Gaza Strip, as a result of the continued
blockade and boycott by the international community.
thousands of Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Hamas security forces for
the first time since the movement seized control over the entire Gaza Strip in
the summer of 2007.
Many Palestinians, including Fatah, said that the confrontations reflected
increased resentment of Hamas.
But the unity deal with Fatah will now
help Hamas reassert its authority over the Gaza Strip. It will also help Hamas
emerge from political isolation by turning it into a legitimate and key player
in the international arena.
One of the biggest achievements for Hamas is
the fact that the unity deal does not require it to relinquish control over the
Gaza Strip. In fact, Hamas would be permitted to keep its security forces in the
Gaza Strip, further tightening its grip on the area.
Nor does the deal
require Hamas to accept the Middle East peace process or accept the two-state
Hamas will be brought into the unity government as an equal
Until a few days ago, Hamas and Fatah were detaining and
torturing each other’s supporters.
For the past three-and-a-half years,
security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad worked round the clock
to eliminate Hamas’s presence in the West Bank.
Under the terms of the
reconciliation accord, Fatah will have to release all “political detainees”
belonging to Hamas. This will only help Hamas regain its strength in the West
The deal also allows Hamas to run again unconditionally in
elections, as was the case in the 2006 parliamentary vote. There’s no guarantee
that Hamas would not win again in the next elections, which are expected to take
place within a year.
Hamas has been recognized as a legitimate partner
and player not only by Fatah, but also by the most populous Arab country,
The popular uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak out of office
earlier this year has been nothing but a blessing for Hamas. The new Egyptian
regime has since been working to improve its ties with Hamas through a series of
goodwill gestures that include the reopening of the Rafah border crossing and
permitting the movement to have its own “representative office” in
Although some Palestinians remained skeptical about the prospects
of the unity deal holding for a long period of time, many agreed that Hamas
stood to benefit the most from the agreement.