Egypt vote key to success of any Fatah-Hamas reunification

 

Jerusalem

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's announcement yesterday that he will meet the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Cairo next week follows yet another round of speculation that the four-year-old schism between the factions is nearing its end.

That has been partly driven by the independent Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, who has said he would stand down from his post if – because of Hamas objections – he was the obstacle to reconciliation between the two sides. It was also driven by the claim of a senior Fatah official, Azzam Ahmed, that the two factions had agreed to elections in May 2012 and an interim government before that – probably without Mr Fayyad at its helm. But such predictions, including by Mr Ahmed, have been made before. Some Palestinian officials are sceptical about whether the factions have made as much progress as Mr Ahmed implied this week.

Palestinian elections have been promised before without being held. And Mr Fayyad is mainly trying to see off attempts to cast him in the undeserved role of scapegoat for the lack of progress in inter-faction talks since a theoretical agreement in May this year. Mr Fayyad, and some officials around Mr Abbas, have told diplomats  that the Prime Minister is not about to resign.

The two factions joined in a unity government in 2007 after Hamas won the most seats in elections in the Palestinian Territories a year earlier, but the coalition soon collapsed amid bitter fighting. Hamas seized control of Gaza, effectively splitting the territories into separately governed entities, with the West Bank controlled by Fatah and Mr Abbas.

There are good reasons why further reconciliation might be tempting now. For Hamas, another strong election showing would give it new political leverage in the West Bank. If the Muslim Brotherhood do well in the coming Egyptian elections without inviting international ostracism, it will be more difficult to argue that a boycott of the Palestinian Authority is justified by the Islamist Hamas having an influence in it, particularly if Mr Meshal reinvents Hamas as the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in putative May elections.

Reunification between the factions would probably please Egypt, which Mr Meshal would surely like to do, given how uncomfortable his Syrian base has become. Meanwhile, Mr Abbas has little to show for keeping his distance from Hamas. Indeed, he has been severely punished – in withheld funds – by Israel and the US Congress for making a diplomatic bid in September for recognition at the UN, which Hamas opposed.

Mr Fayyad's main misfortune is that as an independent he belongs to neither Hamas or Fatah. And as long as the money from the US and Israel has dried up, it makes it more difficult for Mr Abbas to argue to Mr Fayyad's enemies and Fatah rivals that the Prime Minister is keeping the PA afloat.

Mr Abbas is said to have predicted that Hamas will not reconcile, at least until Egypt's elections are over. He may be more enthusiastic about a deal than he is letting on to Western governments. But it remains a big step, all the more so if Mr Fayyad were to be sacrificed. It would risk international ostracism, if not by Europe, at least by the US and Israel. It isn't certain that Hamas would give up its de facto control of Gaza – or Fatah of the West Bank – whatever the result of any elections. There is a rumbling in favour of reconciliation, but remarriage was always going to be more difficult than divorce.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments