by: Ilse Strauss
Friday, 3 July 2020 | The bitter rivalry between sworn arch enemies Fatah—the so-called secular political party headed by Mahmoud Abbas managing parts of Judea and Samaria—and Hamas—the Sunni-Islamic terrorist organization ruling Gaza with an iron fist—has dominated the Palestinian political landscape for nearly two decades.
To date, nothing has been able to calm the simmering tensions between the two major Palestinian parties and motivate the leaders to set their differences aside to serve as a united government leading the Palestinian people. Until now, it seems.
In a rare display of unity, Fatah and Hamas pledged to lay aside years of feuding, hatred and bloodshed to “topple” a common enemy: Israel. More specifically, the fighting factions vowed to bury the hatchet and instead focus their joint fury on US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and the application of Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley.
“We are announcing today an agreement to topple the ‘Deal of the Century’…there will be popular resistance in which everyone participates,” senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub vowed during a joint press conference yesterday. Rajoub spoke from Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority [PA], while deputy Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri weighed in via a video-link from Beirut. “We will put in place all necessary measures to ensure national unity…Today, we want to speak in a single voice.”
“We are now talking about a joint struggle, a campaign on the ground,” Rajoub continued. “We call on all Palestinian factions to see cooperation between Hamas and Fatah as a historic opportunity for a joint fight to establish a Palestinian state and oppose the Israeli occupation.”
Speaking on behalf of Hamas, al-Arouri sounded a clarion call to his compatriots to “stand together, again and again, loyally and truthfully, amidst the ranks of our people, to resist and thwart this project.”
Enmity between Hamas and Fatah dates back to 2006 when the Palestinians went to the polls to pick a parliament. Fatah and Hamas received the highest percentage of votes, resulting in a unity government, but Hamas had bigger ambitions than sharing power. Tensions erupted a year later in the Battle of Gaza, when Hamas fighters seized control of the Strip, murdering Fatah officials and driving the rest from the coastal enclave. The result? A rift in Palestinian leadership with a Fatah stronghold in Judea and Samaria, where Abbas governs 2.5 million Palestinians as the PA president, while Hamas rules 2.1 million Palestinians in Gaza.
Fourteen years later, Abbas still seethes from the defeat and aspires to return to the coastal enclave a conquering hero. In a bid to bring Hamas to its knees, Abbas has cut the electricity supply to Gaza and closed the cash coffers that pay to keep the lights burning and the water running, inflicting horrendous suffering on the Gazan population. Hamas, in turn, will not relinquish its hold on the Gaza Strip to the man they drove from the coastal enclave with his tail between his legs and resents Abbas for imposing vindictive measures. Moreover, the terror group continues to make inroads into Judea and Samaria, sparking fears that should an election be held at this moment, Hamas will walk away victorious. With no love lost between the parties, various attempts at reconciling the two warring factions governing two pockets of the same people have all come to naught.
This begs the question: could the prospect of Israeli sovereignty over the biblical heartland—the swatch of land that served as the stage on which the lives of biblical patriarchs, kings, priests, prophets and other heroes and heroines played out, and the plot of land the Palestinians now claim as their own—be the uniting factor that heals the rift between Hamas and Fatah? Perhaps. But if history is anything to go by, bitter feuds in the Middle East require more than a common enemy to bring an end to the enmity.
Posted on July 3, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 2, 2020)
Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. All other materials are property of Bridges for Peace. Copyright © 2020.
Website Site Design by J-Town Internet Services Ltd. - Based in Jerusalem and Serving the World.