Hamas leader floats idea of West Bank-Gaza Strip federation

The division between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank, has lasted for more than nine years. Will it soon come to an end?

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January 2, 2017 01:36
2 minute read.
A Palestinian youth waves the national flag as the IDF digs in search of smuggling tunnels

A Palestinian youth waves the national flag as the IDF digs in search of smuggling tunnels at the border east of Gaza City. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

 
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A senior Hamas official said on Friday that a federation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could be a feasible solution to the ongoing division between Hamas and Fatah.

“A federation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip may be better than the ongoing division,” Mousa Abu Marzouk, the vice president of the Hamas Politburo, told Al-Ghad, a London-based Arabic satellite channel.

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A federation is defined as a political entity made up of partially self-governing regions.

The division between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank, has lasted for more than nine years.

Arab and international parties have undertaken numerous efforts to end the division, overseeing agreements between the two parties, which ultimately have gone unimplemented.

Abu Marzouk added that other countries have used the model of a federation to unite their countries, regardless of their geographical size.

“A federation is one of the forms of government that has united many countries like Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America,” he said. “It does not matter if the country is small or large—the population of Switzerland is less than that of Palestine, but it is united.”

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Many of the PLO’s factions, including Fatah, denounced Abu Marzouk’s statements, calling his proposal “dangerous.”

Osama Qawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman, rejected his comments, saying that they “reinforce the division.”

“What is needed from every nationalist on the Palestinian street is to support and make successful the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts... to end the division instead of speaking about a plan for a federation that is more dangerous than the Israeli plan for a state with temporary borders,” Qawasmeh said in a press release on Saturday.

Mahmoud Khalaf, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader, condemned Abu Marzouk’s comments, saying that they “dismember the Palestinian issue.”

“A federation would relieve the occupation of confronting united national Palestinian work,” Khalaf told the Al-Ghad newspaper on Saturday. “We need more unity and the end of the division, not ideas that could be turned into a reality that is different than the reality of the Palestinian people.”

Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, told The Jerusalem Post that while the PLO’s factions have rejected the idea of federation, it could receive popular support if it bears the possibility of ending Gazans’ suffering.

“This proposal was rejected by the PLO and its factions because they believe it deepens the political rift between the West Bank and Gaza,” he said. “But I know that the two million Palestinians in Gaza will accept any solution that will put an end their daily suffering. ”

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