WOMEN WAVE flags celebrating Palestinian unity. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Goods news has been emanating from the war-torn Middle East: Fatah and Hamas are reported to have signed a unification agreement in Cairo on October 11, 2017. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held a meeting in Gaza with Hamas leaders.
Fatah and Hamas began to see each other as enemies after the death of Yasser Arafat in 2005, and a unified voice for a Palestinian state remained elusive.
Although Hamas held independent, free and fair elections in 2006 following the vacation of the Gaza Strip in 2005 by Israel, having won the election Hamas evicted the Fatah-led forces of the PA from Gaza. Since then several reconciliation attempts have been made, including a reconciliation agreement signed in April 2014, to no avail. Incidentally, as yet Fatah in the West Bank has not been able to organize free and fair elections yet.
According to a report emanating from the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is on record as saying that the Palestinians are now united and both the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be under one unified authority.
Palestinians must realize that united we stand, but divided we fall.
The Gaza Strip was seriously affected by the 50-day war with Israel that begun July 8, 2014, known as Operation Protective Edge, following intense barrages or rockets from Gaza. The war took lives of 2,100 Palestinians, both soldiers and civilians, while Israel lost 66 soldiers and six civilians. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 300,000 Palestinians took shelter in schools while 20,000 homes are estimated to have rendered inhabitable.
Since then the people of Gaza have been on the dole of some Arab countries and Turkey. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar have pledged funds to rebuild the strip.
The emir of Qatar had visited Gaza on October 22, 2012, at which time he committed dedicate $400 million to various projects in Gaza, while the United Arab Emirates transferred $15m. to specific projects under the supervision of Egyptian engineers.
The UAE joined in rebuilding Gaza following political conflict between Qatar and the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, this year.
In light of the unification trend between Fatah and Hamas Israel demanded on October 12 that Hamas must recognize Israel and disarm.
The United States echoed similar demands. Since Fatah and Hamas are united there is no logic to Hamas recognizing Israel separately, as the PA has already recognized the State of Israel.
The people of Israel, remembering the Jewish community’s agonizing experiences in Germany, Russia, France and elsewhere should realize the agony Palestinians are confronted with by Israeli military since the occupation of their territories during war in 1967 with Arab countries.
Moreover, in recent years Israel has been gradually isolated from the international community, as can be seen from the acceptance of Palestine as member of various international organizations. Following the PA entry to UNESCO in October 2011, Palestine has been enrolled as a member of Interpol, secured non-member observer state status in the United Nations and became a member of International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The UN passed a landmark resolution on December 22, 2016, demanding a “halt to all Israeli settlement in occupied territories” after the US abstained from the vote in the absence of any meaningful peace process.
The implementation by Israel of a draconian law prohibiting entry to foreigners who support an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel or the settlements reflects the bad news for Israel in international relations. Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union criticized the coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for clamping down on foreign-funded NGOs which, she claims, will lead to undemocratic laws.
It is high time that Israel realized the folly of undermining a Palestinian state. Similarly, Fatah and Hamas must remain united and must abandon violence of any sort.
As US president Barak Obama said in his speech on June 4, 2009 in Cairo, “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.”
The author, a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former president of the Nova chapter of the Toastmaster International club of America, writes from Falls Church, Virginia.