Is the Time Ripe for Palestinian National Reconciliation?

  • 25 June 2008

There is an urgent need for national reconciliation among Palestinians in order to resolve the now two-year-long political and territorial division within Palestinian Territories, which culminated with Hamas taking over Gaza Strip last year after routing forces of the Palestinian Authority and seizing control of Gaza's security apparatus. This move allowed Israel to enforce a debilitating blockade on the Strip that led to an increase in humanitarian and economic hardships of its residents. In addition, the internal rift among Palestinians has given Israel a good excuse for disengaging itself from the peace process. It has also allowed the Jewish state to continue building new settlements in the West Bank in utter disregard of the peace process.

The agreement reached between Hamas and Israel for a truce—that came into effect last Thursday through the mediation of Egypt—states that other issues would also be taken up for negotiations in the near future. This declaration offers a conducive atmosphere for national reconciliation within Palestinian Territories, and for settling internal political differences and reuniting national forces. In this respect, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call to Hamas for a national dialogue is significant. The response to this call for dialogue should be serious and immediate. It should be devoid of any petty mutual differences or narrow interests. Reconciliation at this time would realize many objectives. First, it would deny Israel the chance to exploit the split in Palestinian ranks for promoting its interests and for impeding any international or regional initiative towards a peace agreement with Palestinians. Second, the unification of Palestinian ranks would counter Israel's scheme of separating West Bank from Gaza Strip and its plan to deal with the two as separate entities. All Palestinian factions should strive to secure the future of Palestinian people, protect their legal rights, improve their standards of living, mend the damage caused by internal conflict to Palestinian cause and revive at the international level. The division within Palestinian ranks weighs heavily on  its people and has hurt their cause. The futility  of these divisions and the wrongs committed thereunto could be considered the gravest violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.                     

A real and sincere political will between Fatah and Hamas for Palestinian national dialogue would be necessary for healing the rift and for promoting national interests. Thus “comprehensive national agreement” should be reached to bring together all Palestinian factions to reach a just and comprehensive peace for its people, who have endured a lot and who deserve to live in a stable country free of violence. For this reason, the whole region should seek to make the most of this period of calm and promote national dialogue because it is the primary prerequisite that all parties within and outside Palestinian Territories should seek to achieve.