News analysis: Ending 10 years of internal Palestinian division becomes "complicated"

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-21 01:24:08|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Osama Radi, Emad Drimly

GAZA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- In a few weeks, the Palestinians will be marking ten years for the internal political and geographic split, which began in June, 2007 when Islamic Hamas movement forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip, while the West Bank remained under the rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party.

Analysts said that after ten years, ending this division has become very complicated amid endless feuds, trade of accusations and disputes between the two major rivals.

A recent example is that Abbas and the Palestinian government decided to cut 30 percent of the salaries of the employees in Gaza, including civil servants and security forces who refrained from working under Hamas when it seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas accused the decision of new efforts aiming at deepening crisis in the strip.

Hani el-Masri, a Ramallah-based political analyst, told Xinhua that Abbas currently found out that there is a chance both locally and internationally to start exerting real pressure on Hamas for ending the internal division.

"I believe that one of the major reasons that encouraged Abbas to start serious measures against Hamas is the promises of the new U.S. government and President Donald Trump to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and reach a historic peace deal that ends the conflict in the Middle East," he said.

In fact, all Arab and international mediations aiming to end the split had so far failed.

Egypt, Qatar, Yemen, Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon and some European mediators have failed over the past ten years to bridge the gaps and end the status of political and physical hostility between the two rivals in the two territories, although several agreements and understandings had been reached, but never implemented.

George Jaqman, the chairman of the Institute for Democratic Studies in the West Bank city of Ramallah, told Xinhua that in the past ten years, the Palestinian reality on the ground was in a severe confusion. He said that two Palestinian rules, or entities, have been established in Gaza and the West Bank.

"Each power has separately ruled the territory it controls in accordance to the private interests linked to power as well as external and foreign influence," said Jaqman, adding that "the Palestinian split going on for this long was due to the absence of a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian question."

The so-called Middle East peace process has been going up and down and has achieved no progress over the past decade until it reached a deadlock in April 2014, when the U.S. sponsored peace negotiations went on for nine months and ended up with deeper disagreements on settlements, borders and security between the Palestinians and Israel.

"Having no fair solution to the Palestinian cause and experiencing a deep internal dispute between Fatah and Hamas has further provided the chance for Arab counties, Israel and the United States to exert their interference or influence on the Palestinians, resulting in the Palestinian situation as it is without putting an end to it," said Jaqman.

Back to the summer of 2007, the Palestinians in the coastal enclave of Gaza Strip, where has been under a tight Israeli blockade since then, witnessed the tragic and bloody scenes when Hamas and Fatah militants fought each other for weeks.

Hamas, which won the parliamentary elections in 2006 and was listed as a terrorist organization by Israel and some other countries, refused to abide by the international requirements of recognizing Israel or condemning violence, therefore Israel and the United States refused to involve Hamas into any Palestinian government.

Hamas, meanwhile, neglected the world's embargo and counted on friendly Arab and Islamic countries and started to perform as if it is a power of a state.

According to local analysts, leaders of Fatah Party are intending soon to hold talks with leaders of Hamas in Gaza to convey a clear message that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) can't keep financing the Gaza Strip while the internal division remains.

In this case, Hamas is facing two options: either bearing its full responsibility for providing all services to the populations, including food, medicine, jobs and electricity, or handing over the Gaza Strip to the PNA.

Hamas, meanwhile, sent a message to Fatah through news briefings that the movement is willing to hand over all ministries, reach full reconciliation, form a unity government and go for general parliamentary and presidential elections within three months.

Talal Oukal, a Gaza-based writer and political analyst, told Xinhua that it seems easy to reach an agreement between the two rivals in term of administrative power, "but it will be very complicated and difficult afterwards to resolve other issues like security."