Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Peril Of Palestinian Unity

As Fatah and Hamas edge toward a unity government, Ethan Bonner writes, they push creation of a state of Palestine further down the road. Israel and the U.S. don't trust Hamas, and they must be assuming that before long the Islamist party will dominate the Palestinian National Authority. One expert puts it in a regional context:
“The Arab awakening is witnessing the rise of a reformist political Islam in Egypt and Tunisia, and I believe we will see that Hamas is no exception,” asserted Mahdi Abdul Hadi, chairman of Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs in Jerusalem. “Western governments are dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and it is only a matter of time before they will meet with Hamas as well.”
A peace deal between Fatah and Israel would've been shaky, since Hamas would have undermined it. It will be better for Palestinians if their leadership speaks with one voice. That's the good news. The bad news is that Israel will build more West Bank settlements, further eroding the integrity of a future Palestinian state, while it and the U.S. wait for Hamas to earn a place at the negotiating table by renouncing violence and recognizing, at least for the record, Israel's right to exist as a Jewish nation. In turn, Israel's hard line will diminish the likelihood that Hamas will make such concessions, enabling even more time for more settlements. So the paradox is that while factional unity might help Palestinians in the long run, it looks like the death knell for the state of Palestine.

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