What is Happening in the Palestinian Territories?

  • 14 November 2007

The unfortunate incidents that happened in the Gaza Strip recently and led to the killing and injury of tens of people in clashes between Hamas and Fatah movements, during a festival arranged by the latter in the territory on the third death anniversary of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, must have led many people not only in the Arab and Islamic world but also across the globe to wonder as to what is happening in the Palestinian territories?

These incidents took place at the death anniversary of Yasser Arafat, the historic leader who is the symbol of Palestinian unity and leader of all Palestinians. Therefore, his memory should have evoked the spirit of solidarity and unity in the Palestinian Territories, and the event should not have produced more bloodshed among the Palestinian people due to political differences and strife.

This tragedy in Gaza comes at a time when preparations are underway for the Minneapolis conference for peace in the Middle East, which would primarily concentrate on the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. This necessitates greater unity among various Palestinian factions in order to formulate a common position on what will be proposed at the conference. However, what is actually happening is that more disputes and fighting are cropping up before the convening of this important conference and this could deeply affect the history of the Palestinian cause and the settlement process.

The Arab world is working on formulating an Arab vision for the Minneapolis conference. Deliberations and meetings are underway at different levels for this purpose, and the United States is working on developing a political formula at the conference. Israel is also having an internal debate about what it would be taking to the conference. However, the Palestinians are still engaged in their internecine feuds and disputes. This issue makes one wonder: Do various Palestinian forces realize the danger of the situation to their historical cause, and what does the upcoming period has in store for them?

Whoever is responsible for events in Gaza—be it Hamas or Fatah—and whoever is responsible for all the differences taking place between the two Palestinian sides, the situation must be resolved. The crisis is worsening the Palestinian situation causing bloodshed and conflict. It is distorting the image of the Palestinian cause and is hurting the long history of the struggle. It is also undermining the efforts of those who want to help Palestinians in a difficult situation, and want to give Israel the justification to evade the peace process.