Leading article: An opportunity not to be missed

Share
Related Topics

Out of the spotlight, at least compared with the recent flurry of high-level US visitors to the region, or the corruption accusations against Israel's Foreign Minister, an event takes place this week that could have at least as much impact on the prospects for Middle East peace as either of these. Opening today is the first convention of the Palestinian Fatah organisation for 20 years. Being held in Bethlehem, it is the first Fatah convention ever to be held on Palestinian soil – although, as many delegates will lament, not in an independent Palestinian state.

Even one month ago, it was still not completely certain that the convention would happen. Yet as participants assembled in recent days, it was clear that two crucial tests had been passed. The first was whether there would be a quorum. With more than 2,000 delegates in Bethlehem by yesterday and more arriving, it was clear that this would not be a problem. Hundreds of Fatah veterans have converged from their countries of exile all over the Middle East, outnumbered only by a new generation of West Bank activists, who aspire to power in a Palestinian state.

The second test was for Israel: would Israel – especially one now governed by a fragile Likud-led coalition – play the national security card and try to stop the convention from taking place anywhere close to its borders. There were the unwelcome checks at crossing points into the West Bank, but Israel had evidently taken the wise decision to stand back, permitting even former Fatah fighters to enter the West Bank, though not Israel proper.

These are positive signs. Divisions among Palestinians have long hobbled progress towards peace in the Middle East, divisions that escalated into a formal schism when Hamas seized control of Gaza two years ago. If Fatah can unite around a more modern and pragmatic programme than the outdated one still advocating armed struggle, Israel can no longer complain that it has no credible partner for negotiation.

It was a former Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eban, who quipped that the Palestinians "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity". Those gathered in Bethlehem have the next three days to prove him wrong.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew Daly
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders