By Mohammad Ayesh
Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” was nothing new. The Israelis have proposed it in all but name since 2012, and the Palestinians have rejected it ever since. Israel and the Arab countries normalising their relations with it want to impose a leadership on the Palestinians that will be headed by Mohammed Dahlan for the simple reason that he will implement the Israeli-Trump agenda; Fatah and Hamas will be marginalised.
The two major Palestinian factions thus have no other option but to reconcile their differences. The Palestinian people need them both to strengthen their steadfastness and put them back on the right track. Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is the only way to foil the American-Israeli scheme that plans to overthrow both movements and create a new Palestinian Authority with support and funding from Arab countries which have normalised with Israel. The step taken in Istanbul between the two movements is quite possibly their last opportunity to take this path.
Details of the American-Israeli scheme, which enjoys Arab approval, are now clearer than ever. The only way for it to fail is if the Palestinians unite, with Fatah and Hamas both rejecting the “Deal of the Century” and representing the Palestinian people through the ballot box. If reconciliation fails, that new leadership will be imposed, most likely with Dahlan at its head.
Media reports mention four Arab countries that are currently trying to block any understanding between Fatah and Hamas, and thus block reconciliation. This seems to have been confirmed by Egypt’s refusal to host a meeting of the Palestinian factions in order to complete the reconciliation moves. Ultimately, this suggests strongly that the Israelis and their overt and as yet covert allies in the region are afraid of the internal Palestinian division coming to an end because it will disrupt their scheming and plotting.
This is why reconciliation really is the only option that the Palestinian people have, no matter which faction has their loyalty. Without it, everyone is threatened by the American-Israeli plan, so comprehensive unity is a very real part of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation. Moreover, the popular resistance that enjoys the consensus of the Palestinian people cannot be effective without ending the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip; between Fatah and Hamas.
Neither Fatah nor Hamas has anything to lose, because the Palestinian scene has changed completely over the past few years. The victories that they were striving for have become burdens, and the whole issue of authority does not mean much when compared to a national project for all of Palestine.
Right now, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is living through the same stage and situation that his predecessor Yasser Arafat did after he refused to accept the notorious offer presented to him at Camp David in 2000. When Arafat returned to Ramallah, he was besieged until his death, most likely by poison at Israel’s behest.
Today, Abbas is experiencing a similar siege because of his rejection of the Deal of the Century. Arab states are complicit not only by participating in the blockade, but also by their boycott and demonisation of the Palestinians, while normalising with the Israelis and marketing the occupation on their behalf. Ironically, the siege imposed on Abbas and the PA has cut his funding base, which is precisely what Hamas has faced in Gaza for almost 15 years, with the president’s approval. The differences between them now are marginal.
Israel wants everyone brought down; to crush the Palestinian identity completely; to devour all that is left of Palestinian land; and to turn the Palestinians into a marginalised group within in an apartheid state that demands the right to act with impunity wherever and whenever it wants.
The two parties to the Palestinian division really do not have any other option but reconciliation. They need each other, and the people of Palestine need them to be united. This opportunity must not be lost forever. We can see the alternative waiting in the wings, and it doesn’t look good. The Israeli-American-Arab plot serves none but Israel and its colonial enterprise. Fatah and Hamas must understand that, and act accordingly for the good of all Palestinians.