Palestinian Dialogue is on Hold

  • 11 May 2009

The Palestinian dialogue is moving in endless eddies, despite the fact that Palestinian parties—spearheaded by Hamas and Fatah movements—have already finished four rounds of dialogue in Cairo, and the fifth round is expected to start on May 16, 2009.  What raises concerns in the Arab arena is that the problem is not limited to its numerous rounds of largely inconsequential talks, but the urgency for a quick agreement to promote the Palestinian cause. However, no progress is taking place in bringing closer the positions of Fatah and Hamas, in spite of all talks and efforts that are being made by several Arab parties to resolve the dispute. Secondly, instead of gradual convergence of positions, one witnesses a divergence in attitudes, as other complications are coming to the surface.  There are also setbacks witnessed at the preparatory pre-talk rounds, which has undermined the possibility of making national reconciliation successful. Recently, certain sections in the media cited a Fatah official as saying that negotiations with Hamas had failed. This gave way to speculation that unilateral steps could be taken towards forming a new government that does not include Hamas.

There has been a strong Arab movement towards garnering the support of big international powers to activate the peace process and to put pressure on the new Israeli government that has an extremist orientation. However, this campaign would need a unified Palestinian attitude to be effective, for only then could it present its stance to the world and impress upon it the existence of a responsible Palestinian partner in any dialogue, which could then improve the image of the Palestinian cause that has been plagued with disputes and quarrels in the recent past.

Meanwhile, Israel is trying to change the references of the peace process—including the "Arab Peace Initiative" and peace moves made by Europe and the US, and is carrying out its plan of "Judaization of Jerusalem," with the steady expulsion of Palestinians from it. But it is clear that this is not enough to push Hamas and Fatah and other Palestinian powers to reach an agreement and understanding, which could lead to a state of deterioration of the Palestinian people, and one cannot even predict the adverse impact of such a breakdown in talks, as it would usher in confrontation and violence as was witnessed earlier, even as the momentum for national dialogue picked up recently, with the support of different powers in the Arab arena, and that it cannot continue forever, if the attitudes remain unchanged and the vicious circle drags on without reaching any meaningful outcome.