In an assessment of the reconciliation accord initialled in Cairo last week between senior representatives of Fatah and Hamas, Lt. Col. (ret) Jonathan D. Halevi wrote: “The current agreement is in the category of a forced willingness to agree on general principles on the basis of a common political interest to obtain international recognition of a Palestinian state.”
It would be tempting to argue that the signing of an accord between Fatah and Hamas represents the first stage in healing the rift between the two organizations and setting the stage for a co-ordinated effort to arrive at a peace deal with Israel.
However, Halevi warns that “This strategy previously cost the Palestinian Authority the loss of its rule in Gaza, and now it may facilitate a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and over the PLO institutions as well.”
If one had any doubts about what Hamas is, and even if one were to overlook the contents of its Charter calling for the destruction of Israel, its response to the targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden should leave no one under any illusions.
On hearing of bin Laden’s death, Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, told reporters: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior (shahid). We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.” The mastermind behind the events of 9/11 in which nearly 3,000 innocent and defenceless human beings were murdered in cold blood is “an Arab holy warrior”!
Abbas and Haniyeh may be able to paper over the cracks and present a united front in order to obtain international recognition of a Palestinian state. However, the establishment of a Hamas ruled Palestine controlled by Iran-backed bin Laden sympathizers will put an end to any hopes there might have been of Israel making a deal with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future.