Palestinian Affairs

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Renewed Fatah-Hamas Infighting Clouds Unity Talks

Fatah and Hamas are again engaging in tit-for-tat infighting, casting new doubts on the chances for a Palestinian unity deal. This week Palestinian Authority security forces arrested Hamas members in the West Bank and Hamas lashed out against the Palestinian Liberation Organization over PLO accusations of Hamas “Talibanization” and “Muslim Brotherhoodization.”

Hamas on Monday slammed the Palestine Liberation Organization over its use of “inappropriate inciting terminology” as the PLO called on Hamas to annul legislation it has passed in Gaza. The PLO Executive Committee on Monday issued a statement accusing Hamas of “Muslim Brotherhoodization” and “Talibanization” over new laws it has passed in the Gaza Strip. Hamas responded in a statement that the PLO’s terminology was “taken from the lexicon of assaults against the Islamist movement.”

The goal of a unity deal would be – among other things – to bring the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-controlled West Bank under a single Palestinian government. At stake are Palestinian pretentions of statehood, according to which a Palestinian state exists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That the two territories are ruled by separate factions would make such a state almost by definition a failed state.

Last week, top Hamas officials – up to and including politburo head Khaled Mashaal – met in Qatar to discuss potential unity talks. The meetings resulted in little to no progress, differentiating them little from multiple rounds of previous talks that resulted in little to no progress.

Observers judge the chances of future progress to be complicated:

After Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned, Palestinian politicians immediately called for elections and a national unity government to reconcile bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas. But entrenched animosity between the two sides, stretching beyond disagreement over Fayyad, suggested that any thaw in relations between Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, would be slow.

[Photo: Ralf Lotys / Wiki Commons]