Palestinian Reconciliation Rumors Trigger Fears of Peace Process Backsliding

Palestinian media outlet Ma’an reported yesterday that Hamas is close to creating a single Palestinian government with its rival Fatah faction, laying the groundwork for upcoming West Bank and Gaza Strip elections that would see a unified leadership elected to govern both territories.

Hamas has officially notified Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of the movement’s decision to join a national unity government which will prepare for upcoming presidential and parliamentarian elections, sources told Ma’an on Tuesday. The sources, privy to the details, said that Abbas had previously received two phone calls from Hamas’ chief Khalid Mashaal and from prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.

If confirmed the move may reignite worries that mainstream Palestinian entities with which Israel has for years negotiated – and to which Jerusalem has made functionally irreversible diplomatic and territorial concessions – may be preparing to vitiate assurances and concessions. The Palestinian Authority is publicly committed to seeking a two-state solution with Israel, while Hamas remains committed to the Jewish state’s destruction. The two positions have proved difficult to reconcile, and previous reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah have floundered over among other things that difficulty. Ra’fat Murra, Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, yesterday again emphasized that Hamas is unwilling to give up its claims to territory it reserves for a Palestinian state, including the entirety of Israel. Measuring broader Palestinian sentiment on this issue is notoriously difficult, though Ma’an reported yesterday on a new poll indicating that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip oppose continued negotiations with Israel.

[Photo:  Nadyes / WikiCommons ]