Palestinian Unity Deal Announced – by Stephen Lendman
On April 27, the International Middle East Media Center headlined, “Rival Palestinian Factions Reach Reconciliation Agreement,” saying:
Meeting in Cairo, Palestinian media sources announced a Hamas – Fatah reconciliation draft agreement, signaling hope for rapprochement between the two sides.
Both parties agreed to form a transitional government soon. The two delegations, headed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal discussed security issues and ways to coordinate forces on both sides. They also chose an election date, but didn’t disclose it.
“A Hamas official (Izzat Ar-Rishiq) reported that all points of differences with Fatah have been overcome….Egyptian sources said that the two parties will be invited into Egypt soon (for an) official signing ceremony.”
Egypt’s official MENA news agency confirmed “a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections.”
Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmad confirmed the report, saying both sides agreed to a “government of independents….tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year.”
Palestinian factions welcomed the announcement, hoping years of conflict would end. Islamic Jihad’s Khaled Al Batsh said his organization welcomed the development, hoping implementation will begin quickly. He also called for ending West Bank political arrests, saying Palestinian priorities include resistance, unity, independence, the right of return, and Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital.
PLC deputy head Dr. Ahmad Bahar called the agreement historic, thanking Egypt for hosting and moderating important talks.
Dr. Abdul-Aziz Shiqaqi, head of Gaza’s coalition of independent figures, said the deal breaks new ground, offering a new reconciliation phase. Khalil Assaf, representing West Bank independent figures, called the agreement the best and most important development this year.
The Palestinian People Party (PPP) also welcomed the deal, hoping implementation will begin soon, as well as calling for efforts to marshal international support for Palestinian independence with Jerusalem its capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted sharply, demanding Abbas:
“choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly. I think that the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip.”
Netanyahu also said all necessary measures will be taken to continue Gaza’s siege, including blocking planned humanitarian flotillas.
He and other Israeli officials repeat the same canards, notably with regard to peace, reconciliation, and denying Hamas’ longstanding willingness to recognize Israel in return for Palestinian sovereignty inside pre-1967 borders, just 22% of its original homeland.
In September, it now hopes the UN General Assembly will affirm what Israel for decades spurned, including peace to perpetuate its war agenda based on lies and deception about Hamas threatening its security.
Getting Washington to bogusly declare it a terrorist organization, Western media ignore its legitimacy as Palestine’s democratically elected government, facts conveniently replaced by spurious claims about terrorism. In other words, twisting them to fit policy that includes on-and-off again wars, violence, land theft, severe repression, targeted assassinations, and violation of fundamental international law and standards, as well as core Judaic values, ones Israel long ago abandoned.
On April 27, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner also covered the story headlining, “Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal,” saying:
They “create(d) an interim unity government (and agreed to) hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape” the regional diplomatic landscape. Perhaps regional uprisings influenced the move. Also, Al Jazeera’s January released Palestine Papers. They revealed covert PA willingness to compromise much in return for little, amounting to de facto complicity and unilateral surrender to Israeli demands, a shameless betrayal like Oslo, what Edward Said called a Palestinian Versailles.
It gives pause about what PA negotiators now have in mind. This time, however, they’re dealing with Hamas, not Israel, but that specter remains powerfully omnipresent in lockstep with its Washington paymaster/partner.
Gaza Al-Azhar University Professor Mkhaimar Abusada believes the PA’s failure to negotiate peace with Israel, as well as anger over a February US Security Council resolution veto against new settlement construction encouraged Fatah to talk.
Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzouk said:
“We have ended a painful period in the history of the Palestinian people where Palestinian division had prevailed. We gave the occupation a great opportunity to expand the settlements because of this division. Today we turn this page and open a new” one.
Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said both sides agreed to changes in interim PLO leadership, a tribunal for elections, and a date. Both sides will nominate government members, a 12-judge election tribunal, and an oversight committee to handle security.
On April 27, Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin headlined, “Congress to PA: No US aid if you merge with Hamas,” saying:
Florida Republican House Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehiten (a member of America’s extremist far right) signaled ending US aid, repeating Netanyahu’s lies, saying:
“The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the (PA) government. US taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten US security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel.”
New York Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman, a notorious pro-Israel supporter, called the deal “a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster,” sounding as extremist as Ros-Lehiten. Other members of both houses concurred, succumbing to Israeli Lobby pressure to go along or face recrimination in 2012. Mindful also of Israeli support, selling their souls the price they pay keep it.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would only negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that “dismantles (its) terror infrastructures and recognizes Israel as well as past PLO (negotiated) agreements.”
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, facing indictment for fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and more, said Israel won’t negotiate with the interim government, adding:
“One of the clauses of the agreement is the release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners from Palestinian jails, which would flood the West Bank with armed terrorists, and the IDF must prepare accordingly….This agreement crosses a red line. Hamas has been defined as a terrorist organization….in addition to the fact that it has always been known that no talks can be held with groups calling for Israel’s destruction.”
Israel’s president Shimon Peres said:
“The move, as it stands is a fatal mistake,” nor will Israel negotiate with a “bona fide terrorist organization.” The deal “would lead to a regression and prevent the formation of a Palestinian state.”
Through public rhetoric and behind the scenes pressure, including through the Israeli Lobby, Israel is going all out to prevent reconciliation, a unity government, peace, and UN General Assembly recognition of an independent Palestine within 1967 borders this September.
Instead it plans to stay belligerent, choose violence over diplomacy, continue settlement construction, keep Gaza blockaded, launch air attacks with powerful weapons, make regular incursions into Palestinian communities targeting nonviolent civilians, and effectively reign daily terror on Palestine like it’s done for over six decades, blaming victims of its own crimes, still with world community support.
As a result, it’s for Palestinians to pursue their own agenda until one day liberated and free. A unity government and UN membership are important steps toward it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.