Welcome Palestinian Reconciliation

The reconciliation deal signed between the Palestinian factions under the mediation of the Egyptian government in Cairo on May 4, 2011 is an important achievement not just for Palestinian unity but for a return to peace in the Middle East region. However it is unfortunate that Israel in particular has openly hit out at this unity deal, which is good for the Palestinian people and for them to pursue peaceful settlement with Israel. It is important to work towards a final settlement of the Palestinian problem and if unity among the Fatah and Hamas faction will help in that cause, Israel should not have any objection. Rather it should not get stuck in the politics and misgiving (of Hamas in particular) of the past. Times are changing and the Israelis should be better prepared to work towards a win-win outcome with the Palestinians. Yes, Tel Aviv has unresolved issues with groups like the Hamas and obviously, the current Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu cannot risk his political future by endorsing the participation of the Hamas in a Palestinian unity government given the latter’s own destructive policy towards Israel. Given the sensitivity of Israel towards groups like the Hamas, it will be good the moderates (here the Fatah) can persuade the Hamas to give-up its known hard-line position on Israel. The Egyptians who are mediating the current parleys on Palestinian unity should also do its part in addressing the fear and concern of the Israeli side. Any Palestinian deal for unity or even Statehood should not ignore Israel and its concerns. Israel on its part should show statesmanship in recognizing (not so much the Hamas) the Palestinian aspiration for a two-state solution and likewise Palestinians’ should acknowledge and respect the existence of Israel.    
Coming to the circumstances of the reconciliation deal, the truth seems to be that it was the strong public protests, which had demanded a democratic government that can unite the West Bank and Gaza and that it was this “public pressure” which helps explain the surprise deal reached by Hamas and Fatah. The important lesson that the current Naga reconciliation process can take is that it was the open and active participation of the public which helped push the factions to a deal. In fact if we go into the time line of the Palestinian reconciliation process, it is reported that talks was on since 2006 under Egyptian mediation. Yet they never amounted to anything concrete. Interestingly neither the Fatah nor Hamas faction was truly satisfied with reconciliation. Because if they went ahead with the unity deal, it would endanger their grip on the respective territories they controlled. So despite the fact that Palestinian people clamored for reconciliation, faction leaders prioritized their self-interests. The threat of an Egyptian style public uprising against the Palestinian leadership reportedly motivated the factions to break the deadlock. If we can add here, reconciliation wherever it happens can be a change maker as it will break the status-quo. Therefore it is not surprising that self interest, access to power and resource seems to be holding back a breakthrough in our efforts to reconcile and bring together different groups. It is becoming quite obvious that whether it is the concerned groups or the people themselves, the support for peace and reconciliation remains in name only. It is a popular slogan without the accompanying will to succeed. This needs to change. Nagas too can emulate the reconciliation deal reached between the Palestinian factions. This will open a new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for statehood. As one commentator put it “reconciliation will put the Palestinians on the fast track to statehood and prosperity”.