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In an unexpected move, Fatah and Hamas, the two factions each ruling half of Palestine, has signed a deal to create a unity government.

Initial news reports, which may surprise many intelligent observers of Palestine, Israel and the broader Middle East, is that the two split and hostile halves of the Palestinian government, Fatah and Hamas, have just signed a reconciliation deal.  Some articles:

Associated Press
Maan News
Ha’aretz
Ynet

In brief, from AP:

Fatah and Hamas officials said the plan, brokered by Egypt, calls for the formation of a single caretaker government in the coming days. The government would administer day-to-day business until new presidential and legislative elections are held in exactly one year.

Al-Ahmed said that under the deal, Fatah and Hamas security forces would be unified and "restructured" under "Arab supervision."

In a sign of the sticky issues that remain unresolved, Hamas officials in Gaza said their security forces would retain control over the coastal strip for the time being. The Hamas officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement in Cairo later Wednesday.

From Haaretz:

The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.

"The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome," said Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza. He added that Cairo would shortly invite both sides to a signing ceremony.


It said the agreement would allow Egypt to invite all Palestinian factions to sign a national reconciliation agreement in Cairo in the next few days.

Restoring Palestinian unity is seen as crucial to reviving any prospect for a Palestinian state based on peaceful co-existence alongside Israel. Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian movement until a 2006 election victory by Hamas, backs negotiated peace but the Islamists reject it.

Al-Ahmad and Abu Marzouk said the agreement covered all points of contention, including forming a transitional government, security arrangements and the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to allow Hamas to join it.

A few more details from Ynet:

the agreement includes clauses that stipulate the release of political prisoners and the establishment of a joint security higher committee.

This is big.  The two sides of been talking (in an unserious manner) for years, and have moved into serious talks only recently.  Some of the important factors driving this:

1)    The protests across the Middle East and inside Palestine.  While Fatah and Hamas do not give credit to the Palestinian people, the fact is that protests across the Middle East have made these governments extremely nervous.  Given that tens of thousands of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza had protested for unity, it was becoming increasingly risky for the two parties to stand again it.  

2)     The PA’s diplomatic successes.  Many readers will know that I am no fan of the PA.  Nonetheless, their diplomatic successes have been notable in recent months.  Most of Latin America has recognized Palestine.  Several countries in Europe have upgraded the status of the Palestinian Mission.  The EU signed export agreements with the PA reducing tariffs.  The World Bank and IMF recognized the PA as having the institutions of a functioning state. Most of the world supported a UN condemnation of the Israeli settlements, breaking with the US.  And most of the world has signaled it was willing to support a declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN in September.  Hamas was in serious danger of being left behind, and was forced to move forward.

3)    Israel.  Israel, which has so long cherished and cultivated the Palestinian split, should not discount its own part in this move.  By ensuring that negotiations could not possibly bear any fruit (as documented in the Palestine Papers) , and by continually humiliating the PA whenever possible (right now, PA police have been forced out of Tulkarem by Israeli forces after one of them fired a single shot in the air), Israel forced the PA to seek only other routes  to independence, including an international campaign and making peace with the hated Hamas.  Israel’s immediate response as seen in AP, which will only help the deal:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a quick rejection of a Hamas role in a Palestinian unity government. Israel refuses to deal with Hamas, which does not recognize a place for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and has sent dozens of suicide bombers and thousands of rockets into Israel.
"The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said in a statement. "Peace with both is impossible because of the Hamas goal of destroying the state of Israel, which it expresses openly," he said, pointing to the ongoing rocket attacks.

4)    The US.  The US has long opposed any peace between Hamas and Fatah (whatever it might say publicly), and has reportedly threatened to cut off all aid to the PA (amounting to hundreds of millions) if Fatah joins a unity government.  However, by constantly giving into all Israeli demands (such as abandoning any support for a freeze of settlements, of steadily increasing military aid to Israel, and vetoing a resolution denouncing settlements which matches the US public position), the US has helped back Fatah and the PA into a corner from which it must act even at the risk to its own aid.

5)    Egypt.  Egypt has long played host to unity talks.  From Maan:  “The [Palestinian] teams were to meet Egypt's new spy chief Murad Muwafi, whose predecessor Omar Suleiman tried unsuccessfully to bridge a split that has left Gaza and the West Bank ruled by rival administrations.”  However, Egyptian Intelligence chief Suleiman has never been interested in unity.  He has been a constant ally of the US and Israel, and a constant and tenacious enemy of Hamas.  It is no surprise that unity talks under his aegis have always failed.  However, the new Egyptian government, though still having no love for Hamas, has less love for Israel and more interest in the stability a unity government might yield.

6)    The Arab world.  Simply put, the revolutions across the Arab world are shaking the world order to its core.  This unity move is a desperate by two unrepresentative governments to avoid being drowned by the tide of history.  This move is another great victory for the Arab people, whether or not they are even given the credit they deserve.

what does this all mean?  Hard to say specifically.  Neither Hamas nor Fatah like each other, and each could crash the deal, or outside pressure from the US and Israel (and  others) could.  More than anything, this is a sign that the ground is shifting, and the old patterns that the ruling class was so comfortable with (Hamas in Gaza, Fatah in the West Bank, Israel over all, under the protection of the US) are gone, and a new world is being shaped.

Keep watching.

Originally posted to Adalah — A Just Middle East on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 11:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Foreign Relations and Eyes on Egypt and the Region.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Israel: We don't recognize them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flyswatterbanjo

    because they don't recognize us.

    La, la, la, la, la... I can't seeee you."

    Sounds like the world cares less and less about playing the recognition game and more about simply creating a free Palestinian state.

    Good.

  •  This IS good news! (12+ / 0-)

    And, this helps move the Palestinian People one step closer to having their own country - the one we all hope that the UN will recognize in September which establishes the new state along the 1967 borders.

    Celtic Merlin
    Carlinist

    Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

    by Celtic Merlin on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 12:12:34 PM PDT

    •  I wish the Palestinians would declare July 4, 2011 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Celtic Merlin

      as their Independece Day, following the American tradition.  

      And still put it before the UN in September for ratification.

      The PA needs to improve it's public relations management.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:24:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your last line, (4+ / 0-)

        but why would Palestinians want to borrow our birthday, when we've sent so many armaments of suffering their way?

        Unless they did it to tweak the US's nose. I'm all for that, but I've never known Hamas or Fatah to show much of a sense of humor.

        "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

        by Brecht on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:36:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For strategic purpose Brecht. Trying to (0+ / 0-)

          game the US in wanting to be among the first to recognize it.

          Or more likely, diminish US intention to undermine it, the UN vote, and pressure allies not to support them.

          Additionally, it would be a strategy to game US media.

          Alternatively, they will put a long line of neo-conservative, Likud apologists may try ot frame this is an assault on global national security by potential terrorists.

          In fact, this is already the line, due to Hamas still be listed as a terrorist organization, by the US and Isreal.

          They just formed a coalition government with the Palestinian Authority.

          Some in the the Likud-Shas coalition have threatened to invade the West Bank if the PA attempts as unilateral declaration of independence the way they did in 1948.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 03:07:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure, if Palestinians can rebrand themselves (0+ / 0-)

            as Independence Fighters against oppressive colonialism, more Americans will sympathize with them.

            But a) they should have started years ago, before the US media had so effectively painted them black & blue & brown; b) doesn't that kind of rebrand us as the Evil Empire? not a meme that's gonna fly around these parts.

            "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

            by Brecht on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 04:07:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  All I want is for the UN to recognize them . . . (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, HoundDog, petral, MrJayTee, Euroliberal

        . . . as a new state.

        They can declare independence whenever they like.  What I'm drooling over is their inevitable order to the Israelis to get all of their people back onto the Israel side of the Green Line.  THAT will be one helluva day for me.

        You're absolutely right about the PA's crappy PR Department.

        Celtic Merlin
        Carlinist

        Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

        by Celtic Merlin on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:42:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not going to happen (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TakeMeOutOfMyMissouri

          at least not during this election cycle. The US will veto that motion in the UNSC.

          •  Except, (12+ / 0-)

            that absolutely no one is talking about a UNSC resolution.  Everyone knows the US will veto whatever Israel wants.  Folks are talking about a General Assembly resolution along the lines of UNGA Resolution 371.  That can lay the groundwork for international economic and diplomatic action against the Occupation.  

            "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

            by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:37:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I believe Weasel is correct. I know for sure the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MrJayTee

              vote on the resolution will be held by the General Assembly.

              I am not sure, if the the UNSC has a veto right.  

              But, just getting the majority approval of the GA would be an enormous step forward.

              And, then a request for the PA for international assistence in maintaining security, after the IDF withdraws, which will be expected "immediately."

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 03:10:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Weasel is referring to UNGA 377 (3+ / 0-)

                The Uniting for Peace resolution would allow the GA to create a non-binding endorsement of the State of Palestine. It is not formal UN recognition nor would it allow Palestine to become a member state. And the GA cannot unilaterally resolve boundary disputes, so the Green Line wold not become an International Border.

                It would allow the GA to recommend that other member states go do their own thing is pressuring Israel, but at the end of the day all military occupations end with either a peace treaty or a war.

                •  not really accurate (6+ / 0-)

                  to local standards.

                  377 could, in fact, allow for member status in the UN of a new state, with or without UNSC action, either way.

                  Not sure where you are getting your information.

                  Individual staes, alone and collectively, can recognize a new state along whatever boundaries they wish.  It isn't a UNGA action.  it is an action of individual states.

                  There really isn't a precedent for an occupation of this kind post WW2 (and post formation of the UN)  , in duration, violence and willful transfer of populations, so I wouldn't generalize about how this might end.  The use of armed might in acquisition of territory is pretty much off the table for a member state.  

                  Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                  by Eiron on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 04:03:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Unfortunately, there are lots of precedents (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    TakeMeOutOfMyMissouri

                    many far worse.

                    Consider:

                    Sudan/South Sudan
                    Sudan/Darfur
                    Nigeria/Biafra
                    South Africa/Namibia
                    Morocco/Western Sahara
                    Iraq/Kurdistan
                    Iran/Kurdistan
                    Turkey/Kurdistan
                    Soviet Union/Multiple
                    Serbia/Kosovo

                    And those are only the ones off the top of my head.

                    •  In all of these (4+ / 0-)

                      the separatist regions were recognized as part of the state they which to separate from. People in those regions were considered citizens of that state.

                      Palestine is not a separatist region and Israel does not consider the Palestinians citizens. It is occupied and come what may Palestine will be recognized.

                      •  two points (0+ / 0-)

                        1.  That was not true in all cases with respect to the Soviet Union, which occupied recognized independent states.  I am also not sure that was true in the case of Namibia. I also failed to include the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which was also a recognized state.  

                        2.  I am not entirely sure, that one can legitimately view external recognition as significant in determining whether people have a right to be free.   I would suggest that far more relevant is whether their rights are protected, they form an identifiable group connected with a geographic territory and they have the opportunity to participate on a substantially equal basis with citizens of other groups

          •  The UN established Israel. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, Brecht

            And it was a UNGA resolution, was it not?

            The same can and should be done for the Palestinians.

            You got a problem with that?

            Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

            by Celtic Merlin on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:51:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you really believe the US would (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Euroliberal

            veto a vote by the General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a free country, in the same tradition as the US and Israel?

            I don't.

            Not if the PA does it right.  This was why I was suggesting the PA follow as many of the US traditions as possible.

            Anyway, it wouldn't matter.  

            What the PA is going for is 80 to 100 countries independly recognize them.

            And then, they resquest the Quartet provide interim security as the IDF pulls out.

            This will put such tremendous pressure on the international parties, the UN, the US, and everyone who professes to respect the international rule of law, that they will pass a tipping point.

            This is what Israel did in their own 1948 unilateral declaration of independence.

            But, I don't think the PA should wait until September for the declaration.

            That could be the UN presentation, but they could have over 50 countries recognizing them by then, if they do it now, or more symbollically poignant, July 4.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 08:23:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  why should they use our Independence Day? (0+ / 0-)

        Is there something I'm missing?

      •  PR has never been their strong suit (5+ / 0-)

        That being said, the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas is a good thing, let's see how long it sticks.

        In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

        by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 06:20:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The reaction (11+ / 0-)

    of Elliot Abrams, the guy the US put in charge of training PA security forces and fomenting a coup against Hamas, is telling.

    •  Yup (13+ / 0-)

      Good article.  The US and Israel will do there utmost to quash this move, of course.  The US will limit/cutoff aid to the PA and try to starve them out.  We'll see if Abbas has the strength or the cleverness to resist them, or if this is jsut a negotiating ploy that he'll quickly abandon.  It'll also be interesting to see how the Arab monarchies react.  Publicly, they must be all for this unity.  Privately, they have always been against it, but now bringing Hamas into the PA government might be seen as a better alternative than risking another revolution in another Arab entity.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 12:28:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which is what most of the Very Serious Pundits (9+ / 0-)

      will be saying, and is how the story will soon be framed in most of the US media.

      Glenn Greenwald and others will push back. But I think it will take significant and unexpected progress from this union to make more Americans reconsider their basic "Hamas must die" stance.

      And there will be a lot of people looking desperately for any mis-step, so that they can make that the story.

      But perhaps now (with bigger changes occurring than have in some time) is precisely when we should step beyond our cynical expectation of disappointment, and look towards a brighter and definitely possible future.

      "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

      by Brecht on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:00:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, even though (6+ / 0-)

        virtually every remotely serious analyst of the conflict recognises that some basic level of internal Palestinian political co-operation is a prerequisite for any serious attempt at peace (the International Crisis Group for example has been saying this for years). The US and Israel know this perfectly well of course, which is why they've been so careful to destroy and block Palestinian unity.

        The US is opposed to Palestinian unity, but it I'm not sure whether or not the events in the region that weasel describes will to some extent tie the government's hands, at least for a while.

        What I don't know enough about are the internal dynamics within Fatah and Hamas and how the reconciliation reflects & effects them.

        •  Indeed. Your third paragraph is where curiosity (4+ / 0-)

          is looking now. We will see and hear more of that, at least for the next few weeks, as the mediasphere weighs in and events unfold on the ground.

          "I'm not sure whether or not the events in the region that weasel describes will to some extent tie the government's hands, at least for a while." I think and hope so.

          The real wild card is how those who have ignored politics, or cared deeply but finally given up, are being inflamed by new possibilities of participation and democracy, all across the Middle East. Kind of like Barack did to our electorate in 2008, but with a whole lot more gunpowder.

          New dynamics are coming into play, and many of the old playbooks of complicity/deception/oppression are already ashes in the wind

          "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

          by Brecht on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:50:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Eliot Abrams, Felon? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      petral, poco

      really?  

      Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

      by Eiron on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 04:06:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The actions of one poor young man in (12+ / 0-)

    burning himself in his despondency has changed and continues to change the Middle East.  If there is an afterlife, I hope he sees the changes he has brought, and I hope he sees these things as good for the people.  Yes, many more continue to die, especially now in Libya and Syria, but the spark he lit on his body has done more than presidents, kings, and Sheiks have accomplished in fifty years.

  •  Post-Mubarak, Egypt makes strides for peace. (8+ / 0-)

    Even during the new government's period of historic transition, it got both parties together, so they plan elections and have democractic representatives for their state.  

    •  Egypt (12+ / 0-)

      I said for many years that Egypt was the lynchpin of both the Israeli and American projects in the Middle East.  It's revolution is what guarantees that the ground will continue to shift wildly in the Middle East for years to come.  Gaddafi, Assad, Netanyahu, Abdullah, Saleh and all the others can't stop it, alone or combined.  They might crush a revolution with military force or divert one with fake concessions, but it will be a temporary thing.  The Arab world will continue shifting rapidly under the ruling class for years to come.

      Israel's strategic position is badly compromised.  I didn't really go into it in this diary, but Israel is running out of options.  It will be forced to spend more and more militarily on its southern border.  It will lose its economic advantages in Egypt (like it's cheap natural gas has again been cut, and will soon be gone entirely).  It can keep beating up on the Palestinians, but the cost will be ever higher.  Each move will bring a stronger reaction in Egypt, and soon if Israel wishes to maintain the Occupation of Gaza, it will be forced to do so directly and reinvade in order to block the border.

      Israel's strategic position, which many observers have for so long pointed out cannot last forever without peace, is rapidly collapsing.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:22:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poor Netanyahu... faced with the possibilities of (9+ / 0-)

    Fatah / Hamas reconciliation and the unilateral declaration of statehood, he knows that Israel's stranglehold on dictating the terms and pace of the Process is rapidly diminishing. Thus, the predictable invocation of existential threats.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:17:25 PM PDT

  •  How will the US react? (5+ / 0-)

    A friend sent me a link to this 29 March 2011 post by James Besser in Jewish Week in which he asks a series of relevant questions about the US response to Fatah / Hamas reconciliation. Food for thought.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:45:33 PM PDT

    •  Yes, there's the rub. Or the start of it. (5+ / 0-)

      I want to hear more on this, but Besser's post is a start:

      Under what conditions might the United States negotiate with a unity government that include Hamas? Will it stick to its stated demands that Hamas first renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist? How will it measure compliance? What will it do if it deems that the Netanyahu government is using the Palestinian move as a pretext to officially end all negotiations, annex settlement blocs and intensify building in eastern Jerusalem?

      Two other key points: "Any decision by the Obama administration to deal with a Palestinian unity government, even one that signals a willingness to negotiate with Israel, will be used by the Republicans to skewer Obama as a mortal danger to the Jewish state."

      The best I can hope is that Obama will keep as quiet about it as possible, and let events develop without US interference for a while.

      The piece is slightly out of date. It claims "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid down some clear markers: if Hamas and the PA join together, the peace process is as good as kaput, he said."

      Since then, under considerable duress, Netanyahu has admitted that he meant his own public standing in Israel would be as good as kaput.

      "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

      by Brecht on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:03:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does this mean that the PA will take reponsibility (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dvo, Paul in Berkeley, Mets102, Moshe789

    for Gilad Shalit who is held captive in Gaza by Hamas?

    Does this mean that the Palestinian authority (which is an international recognized body) will have to allow at the very least visits by the Red Cross if not releasing him immediately?

    Recall that even after the elections of Hamas, Israel had no "siege" on the Gaza strip since at least officially it was the Palestinian Authority who controlled the crossings into Gaza. The strict blockade was imposed after the Hamas coup and the kidnapping of Shalit.

    "One might almost call it poetic, if poetry weren't the last refuge of the bearded, cricket hating sodomite."

    by The Revenge of Shakshuka on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 01:59:31 PM PDT

    •  Indeed, all 12,000 political prisoners (4+ / 0-)

      should be freed.  But I can't imagine why the PA would release Shalit without securing the release of some Palestinian political prisoners, too.  Israel could have had Shalit's release at any point by agreeing to a swap.  Shalit remains imprisoned because Israel refuses to deal.  That is unlikely to change with a unity government.  If anything, Israel will become even more resistant to dealing with Palestinians.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:08:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this. Will republish. Such an (6+ / 0-)

    interesting new development and I appreciate you taking the time to give some context to it.

  •  It's kind of amazing (9+ / 0-)

    that not two months into Egypt's new government, this sort of breakthrough has occurred. It's almost as if there's hope for a better future in the Middle East.

    In terms of practical considerations, I wonder what this means for contact between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Will Palestinians be able to freely travel between both? Will Egypt facilitate this? Will Israel allow Palestinians coming from Gaza to cross into the West Bank?

    I also wonder what will happen to the mutual accusations and arrests between Hamas and Fateh. Will they stop now?

    If the people one day wish to live / destiny cannot but respond / And the night cannot but disappear / and the bonds cannot but break. -- Abu'l-Qasim al-Shabbi

    by unspeakable on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:03:06 PM PDT

  •  As a supporter of Israel (5+ / 0-)

    I would have to say that the devil is in the details.

    A reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is a necessary condition for a negotiated peace as are (probably) new elections; so this could be a good thing.  

    However, the degree to which this advances the negotiation process depends on what a united Palestinian government does and who is running it.  

    And, obviously, should Hamas emerge as the dominant partner with unchanged views, that would freeze the process ... to the extent that it can be frozen any further.

    •  There is no "process" (6+ / 0-)

      worth unfreezing, and this will do little to start one, unless people in the US and Europe get our act together as well. The Palestinian leadership has supported the international consensus two-state settlement for decades, and Hamas has strongly signalled that it would agree to a settlement along those lines too. Palestinian political unity is important, but alone it won't give Palestinians the leverage necessary to break US/Israeli rejectionism

    •  Well, the process has been frozen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mets102, JNEREBEL

      for other reasons.  This takes away one reason, but the Palestinians still refuse to negotiate while settlement building continues. Of course, that just allows Netanyahu to create more facts on the ground, so ultimately, the Palestinians might get even less.  It was a strategic mistake on Obama's part, and it's a strategic mistake for the Palestinians, too.  Indeed, when Netanyahu heard that the Palestinians were going to make a full settlement freeze a precondition to negotiations, he probably smiled and said "Promise?"

      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

      by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 06:26:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So J-Street should welcome reconciliation, right? (8+ / 0-)

    Per their policy statement:

    J Street believes that Hamas’ consistent opposition to the peace process, its support for terror against Israeli civilians, its use of violence for political purposes, and its denial of the Holocaust are reprehensible.

    We also recognize, however, that one makes peace with one’s enemies and not one’s friends. Hamas is a political movement that has a significant base of support within Palestinian society and politics. Ultimately, a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be advanced by Palestinian political reconciliation, and we support efforts by third parties to achieve reconciliation and a unity government, whose officials will work within a diplomatic process to achieve an acceptable two-state solution.
    [more]

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:45:44 PM PDT

    •  They are in a bind (5+ / 0-)

      Supposedly the liberal Zionists want a peace deal, which any reasonable observer recognized requires a single, unified Palestinian entity (or else who can sign a deal).  However, they always come at "peace" from the side of "what makes Israel strongest?", and once everything has been done to make Israel dominant, then it can generously give to the Palestinians whatever it chooses to give (and the liberal Zionists would indeed be generous in that situation).

      Of course, a unified Palestinian entity makes the Palestinians stronger, not weaker, and hence it scares the liberal Zionists even as it makes possible the very thing they say them want.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 03:01:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not stronger enough to be scary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco

        and as you correctly point out a necessary pre-condition to a peace deal.

        •  Your logic is unarguable (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, poco
          Not stronger enough to be scary

          Your logic is unarguable, but I suspect events will show that many people fail to reach your position.  

          "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

          by weasel on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 03:11:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No real bind here... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mets102, Brecht, JNEREBEL

        at least for this liberal Zionist.

        Of course, a unified Palestinian entity makes the Palestinians stronger, not weaker, and hence it scares the liberal Zionists even as it makes possible the very thing they say them want.  

        I am not scared here at all. I think this is an important step in the realization of a solution to the Israel - Palestine conflict. If this works towards the creation of a Two State solution - I think it is just dandy.

        DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

        by volleyboy1 on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 07:00:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that's nice. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, Brecht, weasel, callmecassandra

          It's just that when it actually mattered - when Hamas won the elections and started talking about peace, and when Hamas agreed to let Abbas negotiate with Israel on its behalf, and when Fatah and Hamas agreed a National Unity government on a platform that implicitly recognised Israel - most liberal Zionists in the US media supported the US policy of refusing to talk with Hamas and refusing to deal with - actually, forcibly collapsing - any government of which Hamas was a part.

          If the reaction will be different now, great.

    •  That blockquote is pretty (5+ / 0-)

      reasonable, given the source. The first paragraph is just boilerplate. The second makes the obvious point that Hamas can't be ignored whatever one thinks of their politics, and that reconciliation is a necessary step towards a negotiated settlement.

      J Street also comes out and endorses "indirect" engagement with Hamas - which is exactly what the last national unity government offered, until the US and Israel violently collapsed it.

    •  Sometimes one wonders if anyone (4+ / 0-)

      remembers that our educational system is supposed to teach critical thinking. J Street believes Hamas' use of violence for political purposes is reprehensible - then wouldn't Israel's use of violence for political purposes be equally reprehensible?

  •  great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UnaSpenser

    when are they going to recognize libya?

    "sometimes decades pass and nothing happens; and then sometimes weeks pass and decades happen."...

    by stolen water on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:51:37 PM PDT

  •  Some points (9+ / 0-)

    1) Hamas in doing this has given a vote of no confidence in the Syrian-Iranian alliance. Khaled Mash`al who is in Syria will be moving to Gaza (arriving during Abbas' visit).

    2) The recent clearing of Gaza from various salafists  by Hamas was a prelude to this. Hamas is now solidly anti-salafist and looks to Egypt and Turkey for support.

    3) These are the first fruits of the Egyptian democratic revolution.

    4) Both Hamas an Fatah are preparing for the time when they will emerge as political parties (with different names) in a Palestinian state.

    5) This is a major victory for Abbas who is becoming very popular because of his diplomatic successes. The emphasis has turned to recognition of a Palestinian state in the 1967 territories with Jerusalem as its capital. Followed by negotiations with Israel about all other issues in the conflict. Including the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees to Israel.

    6) This underscores the emerging irrelevance of the United States in the Middle East.  Note at this stage only American allies have fallen to the democratic revolution. (could change should Syria fall, but it is more likely to deteriorate into civil war).

    7) The government of technocrats that is being proposed will include Fayyad. Note the relationship between the proposed government and the transitional government in Egypt.

    8) The Palestinian parliament was never involved in negotiations with Israel (it doesn't set foreign policy). All negotiations will remain in the hands of Abbas and the PLO. So Mahmoud Zahar is right. This new transitional government will not be negotiating peace with Israel. Abbas will (after international recognition of the Palestinian state).

       

  •  Speaking as a liberal Zionist, I think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mets102, JNEREBEL

    reconcilliation in this case is fine. I have absolutely no issue with it whatsoever. Not that my approval is needed (or wanted) in the first place, but that is my opinion. If this is what the Palestinian people want I say "Kol Ha'Kavod".

    DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

    by volleyboy1 on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 06:35:24 PM PDT

  •  Avigdor Lieberman doubles-down on intransigence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco

    Al-Ahram, Israel threatens to 'lock up' Palestinian president in West Bank

    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that Tal Aviv could punish the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by “imprisoning” him in the West Bank after he signed a reconciliation agreement with the Hamas movement.

    Liberman threatened the his government will prevent Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, from moving freely by canceling the “VIP visas” that Israeli confers upon Palestinian officials.  

    “We have at our disposal a vast arsenal of measures including the lifting of VIP status for Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Salam Fayyad, which will not allow them to move freely,” Lieberman said.
    [more]

    more of Lieberman's rants here

    [snip]
    "One of the clauses of the agreement is the release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners from Palestinian jails, which would flood the West Bank with armed terrorists, and the IDF must prepare accordingly," Lieberman said.
    [snip]

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:30:09 AM PDT

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