The ink is hardly dry on the latest attempt by Palestinians to present a united front, yet Israel and the United States are threatening them for not doing as they are told and trying to blame them for a collapse in the no-peace peace talks about talks.  

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas want to have another go at marriage.

They can’t promise anything, but are willing to have a try in order to reinstate the dwindling legitimacy they are both suffering from their respective enclaves.

They’ve tried reconciliation before. They have tried trial separations before. Both often vicious and violent.

The latest announcement differs precious little from the many that have gone before.

The reactions from those closely associate is also very deja-vu.  

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hauled out his old script to pronounce the PLO has chosen Hamas over peace.

Clever as a clever thing, he has again omitted to let on exactly what ‘peace’ he is talking about.

Perhaps he’s confusing ‘p e a c e’ with the ‘p i e c e’ - as in pieces of land that may be left over for the Palestinians once Israel has settled where it wants, cunningly upending any prospect of an independent, viable, contiguous sovereign state of Palestine.

The peace Fatah and Hamas have gone for appears not to be driven by mutual affection but a pragmatic approach to debilitating internal and external issues.

Not the least of these is the growing illegitimacy of the Abbas government in Ramallah which is years late holding an election.

For Hamas it is exhaustion from the trials of providing all the services of government in Gaza’s particularly hostile environment while also moderating the militants within its territory whose actions against Israel are only making life more and more difficult for all Palestinians.

The unceremonious departure of the Hamas sympathetic Muslim Brotherhood from power across the border in Egypt has also proven a major catalyst to reconciliation. It has triggered an Egyptian crackdown on the smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt which have for years been a lucrative Hamas income stream.

The upshot is both Palestinian factions need to try again in order to address the entrenched occupation.

The reconciliation certainly tells the United States and Israel that the PLO has options - even if they backfire yet again.

Palestinians remember only too well that Netanyahu in the past derided the prospect of a peace deal with Fatah alone because it does not represent all Palestinians.

Now he’s saying there can not be a peace deal with all Palestinians because some of them don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist.

He may have a point, but for honesty’s sake let’s make it his a counter-point.

I say this because of the many within Netanyahu’s coalition government who do not recognize Palestine’s right to exist in any shape or form.

Israel has said it can not negotiate with a party that has not renounced violence, yet Israel shows no sign of letting up on its daily violence towards the people it holds under occupation.

It is also worth remembering that when Israel negotiated the Oslo Accords, the PLO’s charter was still five years shy of changing and recognising Israel’s right to exist. In return all the Palestinians got was Israel deigning to recognise the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Now both Israel and the US are talking about punishing the Palestinians for not doing as they are told - again.

The US and Israel hold all the power in this Kafkaesque negotiations scenario, and they do not play nice when their divide and conquer maxim boomerangs.

In Israel’s case it is once against threatening to withhold tax payments it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. 

This is a flagrant breach of the 1994 Paris Protocol which regulates economic cooperation between the PA and Israel - and that money is Palestinian money, not Israel’s.

Israel calls this ‘choking’ or ‘closing the tap’, knowing it has severe financial implications for Palestinians. 

In 2011 when Israel contravened this agreement as punishment for the PLO seeking statehood at the UN, they arrogantly told the Palestinians they could not have their estimated $100m in tax revenues until they ‘moved from confrontation back to co-operation’.

Now the American politicians, all terrified of criticising Israel in any way for fear of losing massive campaign donations from American Jews, are talking loudly about invoking legislation that prevents US financial aid to the PA if it has Hamas in its government. That will paralyse the PA.

We are not even at the point where there is a reconciled government, yet those who consider it their right to determine which democratic moves are permissible and which are not, are already drawing their guns.

This latest deal between Hamas and Fatah is the same one they came to in 2011 but which was never implemented.

It was then a way of addressing Israel’s complaints that a divided Palestine is no partner for peace. Three years later the sentiment appears to be the same.

It bodes well to consider Hamas and Fatah are talking about setting up an interim government of technocrats who would begin the process for elections in six months time. The US was all in favour of this in post Mubarak Egypt.

What has been exposed is the depth of Israel’s true colours when it comes to these John Kerry-driven negotiations about negotiations.

Netanyahu has called off all immediate talks, claiming the Palestinians are making “unacceptable demands...stacking on additional conditions which he (Abbas) knows Israel cannot give”.

If Abbas is, which he is not, then he would be taking a play right out of Netanyahu’s book.

The most obvious ‘conditions’ Israel demands is that Palestinians accept the rampant construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, that they accept Israel does not wish to fulfill its agreement to release political prisoners, and that Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

These are ‘conditions’ Netanyahu has had in play long before the Fatah-Hamas deal, knowing full well they will prevent any prospect of a so-called peace deal.

It is very difficult to stomach the man’s mendacity, sugar-coated in his ‘poor-us-we-tried-so-hard-to-be-reasonable’ utterances directed straight down the barrel of the camera.

More difficult to stomach are the different types of barrels pointed at Palestinians, and the inevitability that Palestinians will one day decide they have had enough of nothing.

This may well deliver Netanyahu the crisis he seems to yearn for for his own electoral purposes, but it will not deliver peace to Israelis.

Comments (2)

by Ian MacKay on April 25, 2014
Ian MacKay

Life must be so complicated for the PLO. The region is riven with localised war lords or gang leaders. In the absence of a cohesive national authority, law has broken down and the power of local bosses is paramount. As in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Of course the strife has nothing to do with Americans self-interest has it?

by Andrew Osborn on April 25, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Of course the strife has nothing to do with Americans self-interest has it?

Hanlon's Razor:

"Never attiribute to conspiracy that which can adequately explained by incompetence"

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