This Is Not National Unity

Hamas and Fatah Must Transform to Speak on behalf of Palestinians.

The reconciliation agreement signed between rival Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, in Cairo on October 12 was not a national unity accord – at least, not yet. For the latter to be achieved, the agreement would have to make the interests of the Palestinian people a priority, above factional agendas.

The leadership crisis in Palestine is not new. It precedes Fatah and Hamas by decades.

Since the destruction of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948 – and even further back – Palestinians found themselves beholden to international and regional power play, beyond their ability to control or even influence.

The greatest achievement of Yasser Arafat, the late and iconic leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was his ability to foster an independent Palestinian political identity and a national movement that, although receiving Arab support, was not entirely appropriated by any particular Arab country.

The Oslo Accords, however, was the demise of that movement. Historians may quarrel on whether Arafat, the PLO and its largest political party, Fatah, had any other option but to engage in the so-called ‘peace process’. However, in retrospect, we can surely argue that Oslo was the abrupt cancellation of every Palestinian political achievement, at least since the war of 1967.

Despite the resounding defeat of Arab countries by Israel and its powerful western allies in that…

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