Palestinians wary of Israeli intent towards Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
Tunis - The Palestinian people inside the occupied territories or in the diaspora would “punish” the party that brought about a failure of the recent reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah, warned Palestinian Ambassador to Tunisia Hael al-Fahoum.
Fahoum expressed optimism that, despite the failure of previous mediation efforts, the latest rapprochement bid hosted by Cairo would prove successful.
“There are some obstacles in the path of national unity but they can be overcome,” Fahoum said in an interview with The Arab Weekly. “Obstacles are to be expected but solutions must be found.”
Hamas and Fatah representatives signed an agreement by which Hamas would hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to the Palestinian Authority by December 1.
The Palestinian factions formed committees to sort out unresolved issues between Fatah and Hamas, most notably security control in Gaza. Fatah and Hamas, as well as other factions, will seek to form a unity government.
The recent Cairo talks indicated that Palestinian leaders were showing more commitment to the interests of their homeland, Fahoum said. “Being loud will not lead to finding solutions. If we want to serve our country, we need to think calmly and with an open mind,” he said.
Both sides, Fahoum stressed, needed to assess their capacities, especially considering the political climate in the region. “How can we develop a strategy if we do not know our own capabilities? How can we put realities on the ground if we do not read our regional environment?” he asked.
Fahoum said the unity agreement would deny Israel using Palestinian disunity as an excuse for not being committed to peace. “Israel will try to sabotage the Palestinian unity process,” he warned.
The United Nations, the Arab League and some Western countries welcomed the reconciliation plan. Israel, however, issued a statement saying: “The government of Israel will not carry out political negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas.”
Israeli officials demanded that Hamas agree to several conditions, including recognising Israel and agreeing to disarm.
Fahoum argued that by guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people, Israel would be serving its own purposes because “Palestine is the only guarantor of stability and security.”
Fahoum noted that Hamas, like Fatah, was a part of the Palestinian people and foreign attempts to divide the Palestinians must be rejected.
“Hamas, with the other Palestinian factions, must serve Palestine and the interests of the Palestinians,” he said. He stressed that differences between the factions must not be at the expense of the territory.
Fahoum praised the role of Egypt in brokering Palestinian unity. “Egypt is a major player in the region and it has a national interest in Palestinian reconciliation,” he said. “It played a positive role in creating the right conditions and ground for the success of this reconciliation.”
He expressed hope that Egypt would continue its mediation role and reject Israeli pressure to thwart Palestinian reconciliation. Fahoum said there was international enthusiasm for Palestinian reconciliation.
“The failure of Palestinian reconciliation will have negative consequences,” he said, as it would further divide people in the region. “There is an Arab and an international consensus that you cannot have stability in the region without the establishment of a Palestinian state.”