First PLO delegation since 2007 war arrives in Gaza for unity talks

GAZA Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:03pm EDT

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GAZA (Reuters) - Palestine Liberation Organization delegates arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to discuss unity with militant group Hamas for the first time since their 2007 conflict, in a potential boost for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Few Palestinians expect a breakthrough in the deadlock that has paralyzed Palestinian politics, and many have low expectations of any resolution to the seemingly endless duel.

A deal could restore a measure of sovereignty to Abbas in Gaza and boost his negotiating power with Israel in any future peace talks, although such a partnership could also provoke a backlash from Israel against the PLO in the occupied West Bank.

The reconciliation mission coincided with a meeting between Abbas's Fatah-led group and Israeli peace negotiators in Jerusalem to try to extend talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

Hamas and Fatah have failed since 2011 to implement an Egyptian-brokered unity deal because of disputes over power-sharing and the handling of conflict with Israel.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official, denied that the attempt to negotiate a deal with Hamas was designed merely to strengthen Abbas's hand in talks with Israel.

"We want to end the division whether there is negotiation (with Israel) or there isn't. We want to build Gaza and the West Bank and end the (Israeli) occupation," Al-Ahmed told official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

"We are one country, one people and no power on earth could dismantle this holy bond ... We must end the ugly chapter of division and implement everything we have signed," Al-Ahmed said on arrival in Gaza.

Arab-brokered unity pacts reached between the two sides have yet to be implemented after years of mutual blame.

"NO ROOM FOR FAILURE"

But if Palestinian unity talks end with a deal, paving the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel, not only might Abbas gain negotiating power, but Hamas, hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, might become less isolated.

"We must conclude national reconciliation and end the division so we can have one government, one political national agenda and one system ... There is no room for failure at this dialogue," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

The two sides disagree on policy toward Israel. Islamist Hamas refuses to renounce using force against the Jewish state while secular, Western-backed Fatah wants a deal with Israel to set up a Palestinian state in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem - lands Israel captured in 1967.

Hamas and Fatah also trade blame over the dozens of prisoners held by each side since Hamas took control of Gaza and Fatah remained the predominant party in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after Hamas won 2006 parliamentary polls.

"Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank believe more in what they see, not in what they hear," Gaza political analyst Hani Habib told Reuters. "Past experiences have taught them that, every time, something happens at the last moment and makes their hope evaporate."

(Editing by Louise Ireland/Ruth Pitchford)

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Comments (3)
The road to Heaven is paved by good intentions, the road to hell is the work of the enemy, every which way the Palestinians loose.
S. Africa was free after decades of acrimony hopefully the Palestinians will follow the same route, history will be the judge.

Apr 22, 2014 3:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“A deal (with Hamas) could restore a measure of sovereignty to Abbas in Gaza and boost his negotiating power with Israel in any future peace talks”.

When one reads such thoughts as the above quote, he is challenged to know if he should laugh or cry. Such ideas are beyond preposterous and border on the clinically insane.

There is no easy solution to the endless problems in the Middle East.

Neither are there any perfect solutions that will satisfy all parties. There never were.

That said the Arabs have missed so many opportunities over the past 60 years to achieve at least some approximate, semi-workable solution, that at this point it is almost impossible to imagine or visualize any solution/s at all.

Starting in 1948, the proposed United Nations “Partition Plan” that allocated to each side of the contested land area approximately the same amount of land was adamantly and immediately rejected by the entire Arab world and led to a bloody war that no one thought a drastically outnumbered Israel had any chance of winning and/or even surviving. But against all odds-Israel did survive.

That war was followed by successive decades of war after wars all of which Israel survived and clearly won- though at great loss of human lives.

Several times the Arabs rejected proposed final settlement agreements one of which would have given them almost the entire West Bank. But always the settlement proposals were rejected as not good enough.

Now the final icing on the cake- call it the “Coups de Grace”, is that apparently Abbas and others believe that reconciling with Hamas, (an entity publicly “Sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel”), will strengthen the negotiating position of Abbas and his Hamas counterparts who to this very day never cease raining rockets and missiles down on Southern Israel.

While it is true that sometimes in life a bad deal is worse than no deal at all, such logic does not apply here.

Every single time the Arabs have refused to come to some sort of resolution with the State of Israel their subsequent chances of arriving at a settlement with Israel have continued to diminish.

This latest insane maneuver on the part of Abbas reflects just how very out of touch both Abbas and his Fatah party are from Reality.

Indeed, even the most optimistic people who hunger for some final resolution in the Middle East can see how Abbas has not only shot himself in the foot (again) this time but likely put the last nail in the coffin regarding so-called “Peace negotiations” with Israel.

And every single time I think the situation cannot get more hopeless the Arabs manage, to my total amazement, to make things become still more hopeless- and chiefly for themselves.

I would imagine that in the entire Arab world, especially in all its schools there are precious few copies of William Shakespeare’s Plays translated into Arabic.

That is a true shame for the Arabs because had they ever had the opportunity to read the Play- “Julius Caesar”, they would have come across the famous words spoken by Brutus when he stated:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

The Arabs have missed so many opportunities and “high tides” during the past half century, that it is most doubtful that they will see any further opportunities either in the near or distant future.

The persistent idea which the Arabs never cease beating into the heads of their children, even from the youngest age, is that the State of Israel can be, and eventually will be, destroyed and all its Jews will be pushed into the sea.

That did not happen in 1948 nor is it even in the least bit realistic to believe that will ever happen in the future.

When a people refuses to deal with reality, it is as though they were trapped- frozen in time, with no ability to advance forward or even backwards. That is a true tragedy.

But it is a tragedy- more is the pity- they can blame on no one but themselves.

Apr 22, 2014 4:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
beerpatzer wrote:
Hey, if Mandela has managed to be a hero in the West, there’s still hope for Arafat… They’re both cut from the same cloth…

Apr 22, 2014 12:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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