Siege of Gaza and the Dialogue Between Hamas and Fatah

  • 31 January 2008

The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are suffering under extreme conditions imposed by the debilitating siege of Israel on the territory. According to available figures, over 70% of Palestinian families in Gaza are living in poverty, with 42% facing acute poverty. Unemployment levels have skyrocketed to over 37%. Although the blowing up of border walls across Egyptian-Gaza border has only partially relieved the human suffering in the Strip, it is believed that this conduit will not be in operation for long, as steps are being taken to seal off the breaches and gradually restore the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. This means that the problem posed by the Israeli siege on the Strip would continue and remain the principal cause for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region.

The mounting suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza is a result of the harsh Israeli siege on the Strip. However, the continuing conflict between the Hamas and Fatah movements also has a role to play in this human suffering. Their separation has resulted in the severance of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, both politically and geographically. However, this suffering should push both sides to overcome their differences and start a process of national reconciliation. Egypt has initiated talks with Hamas and Fatah movements separately over the management of the Rafah crossing. Hopefully, these talks could eventually become part of a wide-ranging dialogue between the sides for settling existing differences that have the potential of severely affecting the Palestinian people and their cause. An inter–Palestinian dialogue has assumed even greater importance after Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip. The Zionist regime is trying to undermine the Palestinian cause by turning it into a largely humanitarian crisis.

In the first place, the humanitarian situation in Gaza necessitates a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah. Both parties should avail the opportunity presented by the ongoing negotiations in Cairo over the management of the Rafah crossing in favor of building a national reconciliation that covers all Palestinian political forces. Only a reconciliation between the two sides could help the Palestinians overcome conflicts and divisions, especially at this critical stage.

The Palestinian struggle is currently passing through a critical phase, and the continuation of this pointless conflict between Hamas and Fatah means that serious harm could be inflicted to the cause, for which the Arabs and Palestinians have already paid dearly in order to settle in a manner that will achieve the dream of the Palestinian people in an independent state, as stipulated by resolutions of international legitimacy.