Khuloud Rabah Sulaiman | 18-09-2017
On 9 September, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniya, led a delegation to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials in the quest to end the dispute with opposing party Fatah and achieve Palestinian reconciliation. Gazan Palestinians held their collective breath. Our hopes had been raised so many times before. Would this time be different?
This is a high-stakes game for us; in an effort to force Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas had imposed punitive measures against us, including suspending payments to Israel for our power supply, cutting the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza, and withholding permission for medical transfers for our ill and disabled. We were hurting.
Then, in a statement issued Sunday, 17 September, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) announced it had agreed to dissolve the its Administrative Committee that governs Gaza and hand its authority to the previously formed “unity government” until elections can be held in six months.
“I hope the chance for a successful reconciliation is greater than it has ever been, thanks to Egypt’s tireless efforts to end the political division and restore Palestinian unity," Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told the Ma’an news agency. Yet, questions remain about some important issues, such as who controls security, and unity government representatives are asking questions. Likewise, in an Al Jazeera report, a senior advisor to Abbas refused to commit to a timetable for ending the punitive measures earlier imposed on the Gaza people.
"We await the first steps on the ground. We want to see [Prime Minister Rami] Hamdallah received by Hamas, the door to all the ministries open, and the consensus government in place," he said.
As the news of possible Palestinian reconciliation spread throughout Gaza on people's social media pages, it became the subject everyone talks about. Is the news “real”? Here are some responses, ranging from optimism, to cynicism, to in between:
Wesam Alnaouq: We shouldn't be divided anymore because our enemy follows the famous colonial tactic of divide and conquer. Staying divided only serves the people who call themselves Israel. Unity will make life easier in Gaza and I consider it the first step to making Palestine a strong, recognized country.
Khuloud Sulaiman: I no longer have hope for Palestinian reconciliation, even if an agreement is signed. Both Fatah and Hamas only want power to further their own interests. The pattern has been this: If one party agrees to terms of an agreement, the other will search for an excuse to reject it. I expect we will see the same now: Hamas could not fight the punitive measures imposed by Abbas, and therefore it decided to play the good guy and dissolve its administrative committee. Still, it is unclear if they have agreed on critical issues like who will control the security officers; it seems instead that this must wait until…when? None of the details are clear. Let’s see what Fatah does. I hope the reconciliation actually occurs on the ground, but I skeptical.
Hanin Elholy: I hope this reconciliation comes true. However, I feel it is no more than a daydream. If Hamas and Fatah were concerned about their nation's interests, they would not have allowed this 10-year division in the first place. And if there was a true intention to reconcile, I believe there would be no need for Egyptian or Qatari mediators.
Rana Shubair: Two days ago, Hamas announced that a reconciliation deal had been reached. The Egypt-brokered talks were welcomed by some, frowned upon by others. Many questions wait to be answered. Will Abbas repeal his punitive measures taken against the Gaza people? Will the national unity government actually come to Gaza and carry out its duties? I believe that if Abbas has genuinely good intentions toward Gaza, he will allow this to happen; he knows that the international community then would be willing to alleviate our suffering. However, nothing has happened to date. As for what the deal means for the resistance, that is another story. The resistance forces can’t be part of the deal because armed resistance is the legitimate right of all Palestinians. It can’t be negotiated away.
Omnia Ghassan: I’m not very optimistic about this reconciliation. I just hope that nothing “explodes” between the two parties and worsens our conditions even more. What I want the most is for the crossing [between Gaza and Egypt] to be regularly opened for those who want to pursue their dreams. This is what I want to hear sooner, not later.
Posted: September 17, 2017