The Threat of Civil War in Palestinian Territories

  • 14 June 2007

The break out of bloody confrontations between Hamas and Fatah movements and the ushering in of a renewed and dangerous phase of escalation between the two sides, places the Palestinian Territories on the verge of a devastating civil war. This clearly suggests that the causes of tension and disturbances are much bigger than the incentives for agreements and unity, and more persuasive than all attempts at mediation and reconciliation. For this reason, all agreements at a truce have so far collapsed even before they could start, and negotiations and discussions among Palestinian political leaders, both inside and outside the Palestinian Territories, have proved futile in the face of weapon-wielding parties in the streets of Gaza that are bent on of blowing up the situation at any moment. This is indicative of a general state of anarchy and the lack of a unified leadership that could control the situation, either on the Palestinian side in general, or even at the level of each faction. However, if recent confrontations between Hamas and Fatah suggest that the danger is increasing to an unprecedented level, there are still signs of hope in certain voices of wisdom and sanity on both sides that could help check the present blind foray into internecine fighting.

This is an important matter for both Hamas and Fatah, as they are engaged in fighting and shedding their blood in a shameful and reprehensible manner. Both parties should understand that weapons cannot put the conflict to an end, nor could they determine the supremacy of one faction over the other. Dialogue and understanding are the only means for evolving a framework for a secure future and a shared destiny, and that civil wars around the world-be they in the past or in the present-provide an irrefutable proof of this fact.

No doubt, Palestinians are the first to be affected with what is happening in Gaza and their role is central to stopping the present escalation that is fast heading toward a civil war. Their will holds the crucial key to defusing the situation. However, the signs of chaos in Gaza will not be confined to its borders, but will have dangerous regional repercussions that would be as dangerous and grave as presently faced by the Palestinian cause. This necessitates the emergence of an Arab movement that is serious, coherent, and effective in order to control the situation in Palestinian Territories, and in order to help the feuding parties reach an understanding to stop the bloodshed and limit the expanding circle of hatred and animosity.  In addition, another important mission would be to hold a comprehensive Palestinian national dialogue to evolve a “Palestinian roadmap,” which is agreeable to all sides, because the absence of such a plan is considered the primary reason for the collapse of all agreements. The lack of a “Palestinian roadmap” is the reason parties are unable to agree on the approach and direction over bigger issues: such as the nature of the regime, relations with Israel, the approach toward the peace process and foreign relations.