No one with a clear grasp on the sad reality of a Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip could be fooled into believing that the recent cease-fire would last long.

Even the speed with which Hamas was back to rearming itself for the next round of clashes with “the Zionist entity” was hardly surprising. Just days after the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense, the British Sunday Times reported that Israeli satellites had spotted a ship at the Iranian port of Bandar- Abbas loaded with long-range rockets and other military supplies purportedly bound for Gaza via Sudan.

Slightly more surprising has been the response of the supposedly “moderate” Fatah, the party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the single largest political party making up the PLO confederation.

As Hamas continues to foster ties with the dangerous Shi’ite regime in Iran (senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar bragged Saturday that Iran would increase military and economic aid to Gazan terrorist groups thanks to Hamas’s “victory” against Israel), Fatah has been working hard to demonstrate solidarity with Hamas.

Last week, after the cease-fire was signed, thousands took to the streets in Gaza calling for unity between Fatah and Hamas. Nabil Sha’ath, the PA’s chief negotiator with Israel, visited Gaza City during Operation Pillar of Defense.

“How glad I feel when yellow, green, red and black flags fly together,” Sha’ath told crowds, according to the Ma’an News Agency. Sha’ath was referring to the colors of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. “We must all unite and work together,” he added.

And Fatah’s support for Hamas is not just declarative.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh, several armed groups affiliated with Fatah that operate in the Gaza Strip bragged about firing rockets and missiles at Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense and about fighting side-by-side with Hamas. Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee praised Hamas and Islamic Jihad for “deciding to die for the sake of the Gaza Strip.” Zaki added that Abbas was not against the “resistance” in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hamas has come out in support of Fatah’s bid to seek statehood recognition at the UN this week. At least that is the appearance the Fatah would like to make. Although Hamas sources in Gaza denied it, Wafa, the official news agency of Abbas’s government, reported that Hamas’s Gaza chief and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called Abbas to support the UN bid.

Why would Fatah, ostensibly Israel’s most promising and reasonable negotiating partner on the Palestinian side, do its best to blur the differences between itself and Hamas? Because in the distorted reality of Palestinian politics, Hamas, an anti-Semitic, reactionary terrorist organization that tramples human rights, victimizes Gaza’s population and oppresses women and non- Muslims, is viewed as a hero by Palestinians because it continues to call for the destruction of Israel through any means – including suicide bombings and the use of its civilian population as human shields – while Fatah is considered a traitor and collaborator for agreeing – even in principle – to talk peace with Israel.

This explains why – when Hamas and the Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – hundreds of Palestinians living in Fatah-controlled places such as east Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron took to the streets in signs of joy chanting “O Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming after you!”

Until the Palestinian people decide to switch their energies from blind hatred for Israel and the West to self-advancement and self-determination; until Palestinian leaders give up violence and unilateral diplomacy and inspire their people with a vision of peace, prosperity and reconciliation – an end to the conflict will remain unattainable.

Lives will continue to be needlessly lost in pointless military clashes. Foolish diplomatic quests leading nowhere will only push off further the day when Palestinians and Israelis can coexist in peace.

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