After being divided and ruled upon for seven years, the two main Palestinian political factions -Hamas and Fatah – influenced Palestinian Authority (PA) reconciled lately. Together they unveiled a plan of a technocratic government in what little territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are left with the Palestinians.
Together the two groups launched a plan on 23rd of April 2014 to hold elections in Palestine within six months, under the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The PA is an interim governing body, created to manage the withdrawn Palestinian territories according to the Oslo Accords. Under the influence of Fatah, the PA mainly controls areas of the West Bank, while the Gaza strip is ruled by Hamas, an assumed terrorist group as per the USA, Egypt, Jordan and the EU.
The official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reports of people’s jubilation over the reconciliation agreement between the two factions. The news was met with celebration and hope, and one of the people celebrating the reconciliation agreement told WAFA that ‘this reconciliation must be real and we should not give attention to the Israeli threats.’
Both the parties, however, have some reservations, ranging from recognition of Israel and the Peace Talks to the appointment of new ministers. Together they agreed to keep nine ministers, along with the PM Rami al Hamdallah, giving them the task of paving the way for the 2015 elections. The position of foreign and religious ministers and the return of PA’s forces to Gaza are some of the problems waiting to be solved.
This political nexus certainly came as a shocker to the rest of the world, especially Israel. The two groups, who have always been rivals in the past, suddenly forming a coalition is certainly surprising on first glance. However, this coalition was rather a reaction by the PA to Israel’s lack of appropriate response during the US-backed Peace Talks, when Tel Aviv refused to release the fourth tranche of 28 Palestinian prisoners on March 29. Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas retaliated by signing for membership of several international agencies, in an attempt to seek international recognition.
“The Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention” said President Abbas.
Israel, in retaliation, imposed economic sanctions against Palestine in response to its unilateral decision to join international conventions. Israel regularly deducts a 100 million shekel from the funds for past debts on the Palestinians, which have now been raised to 132 million shekel. It further withheld tax revenues and threatened to freeze Palestinian construction work in the West Bank.
After rejecting the demand to extend the Peace Talks, the PA officially announced its political unity with former rival Hamas, on April 23. This angered Israel, who immediately suspended negotiation on April 24.
“He (Mahmoud Abbas) must choose,” Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu said. “Does he want reconciliation with Hamas, or peace with Israel? Only one is attainable, not both. I hope he chooses peace, until now he has not done so.”
The US, European Union and the United Nations have given this reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas a chance, which was severely criticized by Israeli PM Netanyahu.
Even though the peace talks were suspended, the area was not facing major clash until Israeli military discovered the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped on June 12, in the West Bank. This triggered a full-scale violent offensive against the Palestinians. Israel blamed Hamas, who neither denied nor confirmed the accusations. A cycle of bloodshed, revenge, air strikes and killings, the end of which was being sought in the failing peace talks, resumed immediately.
An 18-day search operation followed the incident, during which 400 Palestinians were arrested, hundreds of their homes were destroyed and fifteen Palestinians were killed. Within a day of the air strikes, the body of a Palestinian teenager was found in a forest near Jerusalem, in a suspected revenge-killing.
Theconflict ensuing in the wake of the teenage killings on both sides and Israeli vigilantism is adding fuel to fire. With the failed negotiations, imbalance of military power and media bias towards Israel predicts that civilians in Palestine will continue to suffer as the world watches in indifferent silence.
The Palestinian leadership’s statement condemned the Israeli military operation in the West Bank and the raids on Gaza, and called on the Israeli government not to exploit the incident of the abduction and killing of three Israeli settlers to continue with policies of escalation, settler activity and strict measures in Occupied Jerusalem.
The eerie stillness of the international media in this regard is beyond despair. Contrary to the basic social value of equality, the world could not stop grieving for the Israeli teenagers but uttered not a word for the Palestinian boy who was roughly the same age. Not to mention the 3,000 Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli forces, from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, as per the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights’ report.
The future looks bleak for the two-state solution: a Utopian dream of Israel and Palestine existing next to each other in perfect harmony. The year 2014 has been declared as the year of solidarity with the Palestinian people by the United Nations General Assembly, in hopes of instilling peace in the region. However, the lack of interest of supposedly peace-keeping international organizations and the asymmetry of power between the two states foreshadow the fact that the atrocities of war will continue in the region.
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