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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid