A stupid quarrel

The feud between Hamas and Fatah has once again occupied the Middle East news this week. Fatah signed the reconciliation agreement proposed by Cairo while Hamas refused to sign. Mahmoud Abbas then announced presidential elections for January 24, 2010, while the agreement proposed to postpone them to June 28 of that year. Hamas responded by announcing that it will prohibit the holding of elections in the Gaza Strip. Both parties benefit since last February from an Egyptian mediation but the situation still seems to be the same dialogue of the deaf.

In an interview given to the Saudi daily Ash Sharq Al Awsat , the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Musa, described this dispute between the Palestinians as the « silliest » thing that happened to the Palestinian people. This fratricidal quarrel is indeed stupid. But does Europe understand its real implications?

Mahmud Abbas stays afloat only through the role he plays on the international arena, and this role makes him more and more unpopular. The credibility of the Palestinian Authority was once again weakened following the publication of the Goldstone report (see a summary of the facts in the Guardian). Under U.S. pressure, Mahmoud Abbas had indeed agreed to delay the consideration of the report, provoking anger among Palestinians. Exploited by Hamas, this criticism forced Abbas to do a « U-turn » and to ask for an examination of the report by the Security Council.

Faceing such a constant slow down of Fatah, Hamas has nothing to gain by signing a reconciliation agreement since he is gaining popularity every day and moreover effortlessly. Considering the international community, it has a dual position because in one hand it refuses to deal with Hamas and on the other hand, it makes no effort to strengthen the position of Mahmud Abbas.

It is difficult to know what the coming months will reserve. The future does not augur well for the unity, not of the people, but of the Palestinian political class. As for the people, it just needs consistency and a leadership capable to address the real issues as the Israeli occupation or the deteriorating economic situation.


Nathalie Janne d’Othée