Alwaght– The will of Palestinian groups, mainly Hamas and Fatah, to reach a national agreement and end the division following the show normalization deals between the Israeli regime and some reactionary Arab governments has been in the center of attention since last month, with regional actors like Turkey, Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, and even international actors like Russia are hosting the intra-Palestinian meetings.
Interestingly, the Israeli regime and its security apparatus that is certainly highly sensitive to the development and is closely watching the smallest developments occurring on the Palestinian stage, so far has not commented on the negotiations between Hamas and Fatah and the outcomes of the summits especially those held last week between the two towering Palestinian parties in Istanbul.
Two reasons could underpin this silence: First, Israel’s struggling with many home troubles specifically the coronavirus pandemic that is reported to have created critical conditions in the occupied territories with unavoidable economic consequences that are igniting the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family’s economic corruption.
Second, in the current conditions, Israelis prefer to take utmost consideration in dealing with the developments happening on the Palestinian stage. In other words, they would rather see the practical results of the meetings than listen to political statements following every round of negotiations.
West Bank and Gaza Strip are on the brink of explosion. As the provocative visit to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 sparked the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), the history seems to be repeating itself. After the recent Arab betrayal of the Palestinian cause and struggle for liberation and failure of the logic of compromise, Palestinians see no way ahead but a new intifada.
Undoubtedly, Tel Avis is a party that takes the utmost advantage from intra-Palestinian chasms and disputes and even works hard to prolong them. However, it will remain silent until practical results are out for the show. In 2011, the Palestinian groups agreed in Cairo to hold elections and form a temporary government within a year. The two Palestinian groups also agreed to release each other’s prisoners. The deal was also accepted by smaller 11 Palestinian factions. But there was no implementation on the ground, with the Palestinian plights only grew more painful and the wound of the differences remains bleeding.
Another factor that can drive the Israelis even more optimistic about the collapse of any agreement out of negotiations is the makeup of the Fatah delegation, especially the head of the delegation.
The head of the Fatah team is General Jabril Rajoub who is a replacement for Azam al-Ahmad. He is taking the negotiations very seriously and seems to have tied his political future to the success of the ongoing dialogue. The result could bring elections to the Palestinian political scene and the replacement of Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the Fatah movement.
Here Rajoub can highlight his role. In fact, his success in the mission for securing an agreement with Hamas can present him as a new champion of the Palestinian politics to the foreign backers of the talks like Turkey and Qatar and also to the Palestinian public opinion. This is going to be a heated rivalry among the prominent Fatah figures.
Rajoub was one of the opponents of Mohamad Shatyyah’s appointment as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority and the success in his path can bear assurances to him that he can secure the post once general elections are held. Definitely, the Israelis are setting hope on the ignition of such competition to foil the potential agreements as they did in the past.
There may be another trap to a Palestinian agreement and it is the Abbas’s bid to buy time until the US elections to see who would win the elections. Despite the fact that the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his fellow party members have shown no plan to force Netanyahu away from his plan to annex West Bank to the already occupied territories or return the US embassy to Tel Aviv from Al-Quds (Jerusalem), if Abbas and Fatah are counting on Biden victory to launch the so-called peace talks with the Israelis under a Democratic-held White House support, they can put the brakes on implementation of any national Palestinian agreement. Actually, what would be Abbas’s decision about the implementation of terms of a deal is a factor that has been decisive over the past 15 years.
Despite all these, the Israelis have their serious concerns about the outcome of the current talks:
One of the main concerns is the venue of the negotiations. Holding the talks in Istanbul under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supervision with the Israeli support is unprecedented.
Turkey and Qatar over the past years widened their alliance as rivals to the Saudi-led camp and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas as the staunchest Palestinian enemy of the Israeli regime and a wing of the Iran-led Axis of Resistance ideologically holds bonds with the Muslim Brotherhood. This can draw closer the Turkish-Qatari camp to the Axis of Resistance at least in the Palestinian cause which is a source of worries to the Israeli regime. Actually, going to Turkey for talks is a fundamental change the peace negotiations are observing.
From another angle, deterioration of the Palestinian conditions after the normalization deals of the UAE and Bahrain with the Israeli regime, Palestine’s failure at the recent Arab League meeting, and deterioration of the economic situation of the Palestinian Authority as a result of the US, Saudi sanctions on the Palestinians, and also the Israeli pressures on the Palestinians have been sharpening the Palestinian leadership determination to set aside their differences and strike a deal.
Amid ongoing Israeli criminal actions that are encouraged by treasonous Arab silence and unwavering Western support to Tel Aviv, it is a must for the Palestinians to try to press for unity as an urgent need. The agreements reached by Hamas and Fatah including holding the elections and designing a comprehensive strategy to counter the Israeli occupation and restore the national unity should be applied practically and seriously for the division to transform into unity.