The Joke of Palestinian Unity… Is Anybody Laughing?
By Emily Gian
On Monday, the Fatah-Hamas unity government was sworn in. The reconciliation between the two warring factions came seven years after Hamas took over Gaza in a bloody coup. Since then, they have tried to reconcile a number of times, but things always seem to get in the way, such as the time Hamas executed 35 men from Fatah that they accused of collaborating with Israel. Seventy-five others that were spared from execution were lucky to have just been shot in the legs and have their hands broken.
But I digress.
The reconciliation was originally announced at the end of April and was the final nail in the coffin that was the Israel-Palestinian peace talks. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said, “Today, after announcing the government of national unity we declare the end of division that caused catastrophic harm to our cause”. He also stated that the new government would abide all previous commitments and agreements made with Israel.
Not surprisingly, Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation, is not really interested in honouring such agreements. Ismail Haniyeh, now the outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza, made an address where he spoke of pursuing “resistance by all forms” and also referred to the fact that the unity deal meant that the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing “became an army today”. That means that in one way or another, an organisation that has committed countless acts of terror against Israel now makes up a part of the official military. Nice one.
Even before government was sworn on Haniyeh had publically stated that “Palestinian reconciliation aims to unite the Palestinian people against the prime enemy, the Zionist enemy. It aims to pursue to the choice of resistance and steadfastness”.
Sounds like the kind of people you would trust, right?
Right before the signing of the agreement, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned PA Chairman Abbas, where Abbas promised to recognise Israel and renounce violence.
Unfortunately, Hamas has never made such promises, and here lies the problem with a unity deal that has two conflicting goals. In an interview with AL Monitor, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, said that the two sides were only reconciling out of desperation – “Hamas is suffering a crisis of government in Gaza and Fatah is facing a crisis of negotiations and lack of horizons regarding a settlement”. While the two sides have reconciled out of convenience, Hamas will never change.
Perhaps it would be different if we were dealing with a Hamas that had reformed, or even had pretended to have declared that they have changed. But Hamas does not want to change and has not moved a single inch from their stance on Israel and moreover, wears it like a badge of honour. One only needs to read Hamas’ genocidal Covenant, with statements such as “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes”, to know that these guys are not interested in peace.
But let’s say we took Hamas out of the equation for a moment, how trust-worthy is Mahmoud Abbas? We already know that he has adopted the same double-speak of his predecessor, promising one thing to the international community, and doing another internally. Of course Abbas is going to tell John Kerry and the EU and anyone else who is prepared to listen that he renounces violence, but does he? Every time a stadium, or a street, or a town square gets named in honour of a terrorist who has committed a horrific crime against Israel it should serve as a reminder to the international community that this is the true face of Fatah. As long as they continue to glorify terrorists and to allow incitement of violence to take place in official institutions such as schools and state-controlled television, it is impossible to take any promises they make seriously.
In the meantime, even after the unity government was sworn in, both sides were still arresting opposing supporters for interrogation. And as mentioned earlier, we all know how those interrogations turn out.
The United States has embraced the new government, saying they are watching closely. Their justification is that there are no Hamas officials holding government positions. This little “loophole” provides a nice space for aide to continue. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister called this out as bogus saying, “you cannot present it internally as a Hamas government and present it on the outside as a technocrat’s government… If these people are identified with Hamas, or are people with whom Hamas identifies and were appointed by Hamas then these are Hamas representatives”.
The European Union released a statement declaring, “This is an important step in the process of Palestinian reconciliation… [This process] faces many challenges but it also creates new opportunities for the peace process, for democratic renewal and for the Palestinian people in both Gaza and the West Bank”.
The United Nations also expressed support for the new government hoping that it will ‘provide new opportunities to progress the peace process with Israel along the basis of a two-state solution, the recognition of Israel and a commitment to revoke violence’.
Sometimes I wonder how these people can in all seriousness look at Hamas and believe that under the current circumstances, peace with Israel is achievable. As Mark Regev, the spokesman for PM Netanyahu said, “Hamas is a ruthless terrorist organisation responsible for the murder of countless innocent civilians and an organisation that says my country Israel should be destroyed”.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to warn the international community not to accept the unity government, saying, “it’s strange that European governments, who strongly condemned the shooting attack in Brussels, at the same time speak kindly, and even with friendliness of the unity agreement with Hamas, a terrorist organisation that carries out and praises such attacks… the policy has to be against terrorism and against partnership with terrorism. This kind of thing doesn’t strengthen peace it strengthens terror”.
On Thursday, Israel released plans for 1,500 new homes in the West Bank. Interestingly, while the UN welcomed a Palestinian government which includes terrorist Hamas, they were “deeply disappointed” by this saying it was “unhelpful to peace efforts”. It may not be, but the double standard set by the EU when it comes to the Palestinians continues to astound me.
A lot of the international community’s faith in the Palestinian unity relies on a lot of “ifs” – if Hamas and Fatah renounce terror, if they continue to honour past agreements with Israel, if they give up on their genocidal campaign to completely wipe Israel off the map – and history has shown us repeatedly that these “ifs” never come to fruition. Hamas is not a Boy Scout organisation, nor will it ever be.
In other news, please read ZFA President Dr Danny Lamm’s statement on Australia no longer referring to East Jerusalem as “occupied”. This issue will no doubt continue to make waves in our local media. Watch this space!