Arab League Sec.-Gen. Elaraby with Qatari FM Jassim 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
First there was the Saudi-sponsored Mecca Agreement between Fatah and Hamas in
February 2007. That agreement collapsed four months later when Hamas seized
control over the Gaza Strip from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian
Then came the Sanaa Agreement in March 2008 in Yemen. That
agreement lasted only a few hours before it was pronounced dead by the two
The Yemeni agreement was followed by two similar reconciliation
pacts that were reached under the auspices of the Egyptians. Needless to say,
the Egyptian-brokered accords remained ink on paper.
Today, it’s the
Qataris moment to take a shot at solving the Hamas-Fatah rivalry.
is hoping to replace Egypt as the major powerbroker in the Arab world,
particularly in light of the fact that the Egyptians are too preoccupied with
their internal problems and have apparently given up on Hamas and
Now it remains to be seen whether Qatar would be able to succeed
where others failed.
Given the many problems facing both Abbas and
Mashaal within their own groups, it’s hard to see how the new deal could
Abbas and Mashaal went to Qatar after they failed to implement the
last Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement that was announced in Cairo in
The Egyptian-sponsored agreement faced many obstacles, mainly
strong opposition inside both Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas has been under
attack by some top Fatah officials who don’t want to see Hamas incorporated into
the PLO and PA. Some of these officials have even warned Abbas against holding
new elections at a time when Fatah is set to suffer another defeat, as was the
case in the 2006 parliamentary vote.
Mashaal, too, has been facing huge
First, he has been forced to leave Syria because of his
refusal to support President Bashar Assad against the popular uprising that has
been sweeping his country for nearly a year. Hamas leaders are today scattered
in the Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries, including Egypt and
Second, Mashaal’s overtures to Fatah and a number of “moderate”
Arab countries like Jordan and Qatar have cost Hamas the political and financial
backing of Iran.
Third, Mashaal’s reconciliation with Fatah has alienated
several top Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip who believe he has “betrayed” the
Islamist movement’s ideology and strategy.
Monday’s Doha Declaration has
already drawn sharp criticism from many Hamas officials and activists who
expressed outrage over the idea that Abbas would serve as interim prime minister
of a unity government.
Some Palestinians said Monday they don’t rule out
the possibility that the Qatari-engineered reconciliation accord would lead to
splits inside both Fatah and Hamas.
It now remains to be seen whether
Abbas and Mashaal would be able to convince their followers to endorse the new
deal. If they fail, the only question would be: Which Arab country would be the
next to mediate between the two rival parties?