After Months of Shuttle Diplomacy John Kerry Delivers a Peace Agreement — but not the one he intended
Fatah and Hamas have reached an agreement to put their differences behind them and form a unity government.
The New York Times reports:
The two groups — the Palestine Liberation Organization, which runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip — have reached similar accords before that were never carried out. But the latest deal comes as the fragile American-brokered peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel are approaching an April 29 deadline without a resolution in sight. People familiar with the discussions have said the Israeli and Palestinian sides were far apart even on how to extend the talks past the deadline.
The Times article ends in typical understatement.
Analysts remained skeptical about whether the Palestinian reconciliation efforts would lead to a tangible change on the ground, because neither of the factions has shown interest in genuine power-sharing in the past, and they have deep differences over how to deal with Israel, which Hamas does not recognize.
Even so, some experts said that the latest effort at reconciliation appeared more serious than past attempts, because both factions are under growing pressure. Gaza under Hamas has been severely weakened by an Egyptian crackdown on the smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border and an Israeli blockade. And Mr. Abbas, for his part, has faced growing criticism from West Bank residents about the negotiations with Israel and his own legitimacy, with Palestinian elections long overdue. He has threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, if the talks with Israel end in failure.
No Hamas does not recognize Israel. It is also a genocidal terrorist organization devoted to destroying Israel. Note terror is not mentioned.
To be sure, in order to make peace the Palestinians need a unified leadership. One of the follies of Kerry’s peace processing was to push for a deal in the absence of unity. So now, Fatah has chosen unity. Even if this unity agreement fails like the other previous ones, what does it say about Abbas that he can make an agreement with Hamas, which is devoted to destroying Israel, even as he claims that he is committed to peace with Israel?
Three years ago Barry Rubin asked why Fatah expelled former Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan. The ostensible reason for Dahlan’s expulsion was corruption. Rubin rejected that explanation because “if that was the standard held to by Fatah its leadership would be meeting in a Volkswagen bug.”
Most likely, there is something else and something more important at that: Dahlan hates Hamas and Hamas hates him. It is reasonable to think that he is being forced out because he opposes Fatah’s cooperation with Hamas. Dahlan believes that in any such deal Fatah will eventually be the loser and Hamas will take over the PA. I think he’s right. With all of his faults and failures, throwing Dahlan out of Fatah is one more step to that group’s decline.
Without a clear commitment from Hamas that it is abandoning its aim of destroying Israel, today’s agreement, like Dahlan’s expulsion, shows that Fatah is more committed to terror than peace.
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