Palestinian disunity (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Elliott Abrams 05/23/12)
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Last Sunday in Cairo, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement to create
the national unity government to which they agreed in principle
months ago in Doha, Qatar. They will meet on May 27 — and have given
themselves 10 days to negotiate the makeup of a new coalition that
would then carry out elections.
This announcement is interesting and potentially significant, but not
in obvious ways.
First, it was brokered by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service.
This is a significant display of the continued vigor of that
organization and its influence on the rival Palestinian parties.
Second, it shows a continuing determination on the part of the Fatah
old-liners and Hamas leaders to sideline Palestinian Authority Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad. In fact, this is just about the only goal upon
which the two sides agree.
Hamas does not want an effective Palestinian Authority government
because it wishes to rule alone; Fatah wants Fayyad out of the way so
that its big shots can get more jobs and end Fayyad’s long fight
The goal of this new effort is supposedly elections, which are long
overdue. But neither Fatah nor Hamas wants elections any more than
they want real national unity; they just want to appear to support
that goal, which is popular among Palestinians, and they want Fayyad
Logically, then, they may announce an agreement, though it would be a
very costly one: Many donors, Western and Arab, would hold back on
delivering funds once Fayyad is gone. But what the Palestinian
factions will not do is hold parliamentary or presidential elections,
which neither Hamas nor Fatah leaders think are in their interest
There’s a good chance that the May 27 talks will not end with a deal —
given the hatreds that separate Hamas and Fatah — but there is a
better chance that a deal will be reached and Fayyad replaced. If the
latter happens, that “unity deal” will break down after a few months —
and before elections are held. This will get the Palestinians
through 2012, which is the larger goal of the leadership right now.
The benefits of all this maneuvering to the Palestinian people are,
of course, nonexistent.
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