News / Middle East

Fatah-Hamas Agreement May Heal Palestinian Rifts

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) walk together in Doha, February 6, 2012
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) walk together in Doha, February 6, 2012

Two rival Palestinian organizations, Hamas and Fatah, agreed on a power-sharing accord earlier this month. Experts say the new agreement is another step forward in healing the rift between the two organizations, whose territories are separated by Israel.

The secular Fatah movement is led by Mahmoud Abbas, also president of the Palestinian Authority, and rules the West Bank. He has been in power since January 2005, succeeding the late Yasser Arafat, founder of the Fatah movement.

The militant group Hamas is also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement and is the elected ruling party in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah-Hamas Ties Since 2007

  • June, 2007: An election puts Hamas in control of Gaza. Fatah keeps control of West Bank.
  • March, 2008: Hamas, Fatah agree to resume dialogue.
  • June, 2008: The two sides agree to talks, which are not held.
  • March, 2009: Talks begin in Cairo.
  • November, 2010: Damascus talks fail to make progress.
  • May, 2011: Fatah, Hamas sign a reconciliation deal.
  • February, 2012: Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity govern

For years, Hamas has carried out suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel, prompting inevitable Israeli military responses. An unofficial cease-fire between Hamas and Israel has been in effect since last April. The United States and Israel consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, though Hamas also runs an extensive social service network.

After months of talks, the two groups agreed that Mr. Abbas will lead a unity government that will prepare for new presidential and parliamentary elections later this year. The agreement was signed in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Experts say this fulfills a key requirement of a previous accord brokered by the Egyptians last May.

Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics, welcomes the power-sharing agreement. But he adds a cautionary note.

“The jury is still out on whether Fatah and Hamas can put their differences aside and begin the process of reconciliation, of governing," he said. "And even though the accord talks about reconciliation, how do you empower Fatah in Gaza where Hamas rules supreme? Will Mahmoud Abbas be able to govern Gaza? Will Hamas cease its authority in Gaza? And also, you have dissenting voices within Hamas and also within Fatah. So although the accord represents a breakthrough, at least symbolically and politically, the reality is the devil is in the details.”

Gerges says this is not the first time that the two Palestinian factions promised to put their differences aside.

“The difference between previous agreements and the Qatar accord is that so many changes have taken place in Palestine and the region itself. I would argue that the Arab Spring awakenings have had a major impact on the Hamas leadership," said Gerges. "The Hamas leadership no longer feels besieged as it used to be before the rise of the Islamists took power in Tunisia, in Morocco, in Egypt. Hamas feels now that it has strategic depth, that Egypt no longer is hostile, as it used to be under Mubarak.”

Key Players in Hamas and Fatah:

Many experts, including Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert at New York University, say Hamas is changing and is moving away from violence.

“They have also been advised by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and specifically, recently by King Abdullah of Jordan and certainly the Emir of Qatar, that if they do not abandon violence, that is going to be the end of the so-called ‘Palestinian enterprise’ - because Israel, at this juncture, at this specific time, is not going to tolerate any provocation coming from the West Bank and/or Gaza," said Ben-Meir. "And I think they know this only too well.”

Ben-Meir also says Fatah has every reason to urge Hamas to renounce violence.

“If you went to Ramallah or Jenin and other cities in the West Bank, you’ll be shocked to see the progress that they have made in terms of infrastructure, building roads, highways, restaurants and all that - they do not want to lose that, Ben-Meir said. "So I cannot imagine they [Fatah] making an agreement with Hamas that will reignite, or restart violence against the Israelis. That simply would not work.”

But John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, does not see Hamas changing.

“They know what they need to do to change: recognize the state of Israel, accept the previous agreements and renounce terrorism. And at least so far, they’ve done none of those things,” Bolton said.

Some experts believe the growing unity between Fatah and Hamas could signal a turning point in the search for a lasting peace in the Middle East - but only if violence is eradicated for good.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid