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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid