Gaza City – Pushed by Arab states normalizing relations with Israel, fragmented Palestinian political factions are working diligently in multilateral talks to restore unity and repair the divide between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in far more promising negotiations than previous efforts.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahraini foreign ministers will sign an agreement with Israel at the White House on Tuesday establishing full ties in violation of the Arab Peace Initiative. The move is a threat to longstanding Arab demands that Israel end its ten-year occupation and agree a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
On Saturday, Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Fatah agreed on a “unified field leadership”
He called for Tuesday – when the signing ceremony takes place in Washington, DC – to be a day of “popular rejection”. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are planning “day of anger” demonstrations and more protests are planned outside the embassies of Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain around the world.
The formation of the joint leadership group and the progress in the talks for intra-Palestinian unity came after a long-awaited meeting on September 3 between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, the head of Islamic Jihad Ziyad al-Nakhala and the leaders of various Palestinians. entity. The meetings took place in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and Beirut in Lebanon.
Hamas and other Palestinian parties have been calling for such a meeting for years, but Abbas has always refused the move, asking Hamas to honor previous unity pacts first.
But with the Palestinian cause facing so many challenges lately – the most important of which is normalization between Arab countries and Israel – Abbas has agreed to hold discussions.
Husam Badran, a member of the Hamas political bureau, told Al Jazeera that several factors are pushing the Palestinians together, including US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”, Israel’s annexation plans for the Palestinians. Palestinian areas and Arab states normalizing relations with “the occupation and what it represented as an insidious stab in the back of the Palestinians”.
Badran called the executive meeting an “important step forward” which led to clear decisions on several pressing issues.
“The rush of a number of Arab countries to normalize their relations with the occupying state has pushed the question of forming a unified leadership on the ground for popular resistance to the top of the Palestinian agenda,” Badran said.
He added that normalization moves “require Palestinians to cooperate and strengthen their home front, and transcend all their differences to save the Palestinian cause.”
“Palestinian leaders are turning their rejection of all plans that aim to liquidate the Palestinian cause into realistic steps on the ground,” Badran said.
During the meeting three committees were formed: the first focused over it forming a unified field leadership to activate the popular struggle against the Israeli occupation, the second is responsible for achieving an agreed vision to end the division between Gaza and the West Bank, and a third is tasked with reviving the Organization for the liberation of Palestine (PLO).
The committees were given a five-week limit to make recommendations to the Palestinian president. Abbas has promised he will accept whatever recommendations they are.
Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah
Hamas and Fatah have been divided since 2007, when Hamas deposed the Fatah security forces from Gaza after months of tension. Since then, several attempts have been made to bridge the gap between the two, but none have been realized.
Relations between Hamas and Fatah, however, have recently seen significant improvements.
Over the past two months, the two main Palestinian movements, led by the Israeli annexation plans, have engaged in positive talks centered on presenting a unified rejection of the Israeli-American plans.
“The unity efforts of the Palestinians come at a very delicate time, when the Palestinian cause is exposed to serious and strategic threats and challenges, starting with the efforts of the American administration to impose facts on the ground to legitimize the Israeli occupation, and Israeli plans to annex the West Bank, “Palestinian political analyst Husam al-Dajani told Al Jazeera.
“The latest of these threats was the UAE’s decision to normalize their relations with Israel without regard for Palestinian rights or the Palestinian cause. The UAE’s decision to normalize has accelerated / accelerated talks within Palestinians and convinced all parties to unite. “
Al-Dajani said the division must end forever if the Palestinian cause is to survive.
“There must be persistent work to restore the consideration of the Palestinian national project. This work begins with the end of the division to be able to face all the threats and challenges,” al-Dajani said.
Senior Fatah official and spokesman Iyad Nasser told Al Jazeera: “The threats and dangers facing the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause are what have led to this progress achieved in committees and national leadership training. on the ground for popular resistance “.
Nasser said his party is optimistic that efforts to repair the fences will work.
“At this stage, unity is needed to address all projects and schemes that aim to liquidate the Palestinian cause and Palestinian rights. At this critical time, we must transcend minor factional disputes towards full devotion to defend and make advance the central question, which is the Palestine question, “added Nasser.
“Tackling normalization requires accelerating the achievement of national unity and the escalation of popular resistance in the occupied Palestinian land.”
As the successful reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah have proved elusive for more than a decade, the Palestinian people generally approach each new attempt with skepticism.
Al-Dajani noted: “The reason for the progress between Hamas and Fatah is that the starting point for talks between the two movements this time was to confront Israel and protect the Palestinian cause, as opposed to power sharing and political ambitions. of each.
“If this equation continues, and the progress of the Palestinian cause remains the door to unity talks, then Palestinian unity will come naturally and be realized.”
The dialogue between Hamas and Fatah over the past two months has focused on putting aside disagreements and finding common ground.
In addition to the unified rejection of Israeli and American measures against the Palestinians, the two movements agreed that non-violent popular resistance is the preferred strategy.
The joint leadership, led by Hamas and Fatah, is expected to activate popular resistance in the West Bank this week, although it hasn’t elaborated.
Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee – who was behind the initiative within Fatah to revive talks with Hamas in June – told reporters that the Palestinian factions have agreed there will be a change in the rules of engagement. with the Israeli occupation forces.
“We will not allow the occupation to uproot an olive tree or injure a Palestinian without paying the price,” Rajoub said.