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
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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

Year 5 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We work with a number of schools ...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?