National Palestinian government or dialogue with Israel?: Trend News Commentator
Ulviya Sadigova, commentator of Trend Middle East desk.
The decision of the Fatah and Hamas to reunite into a single national government of Palestine will help stabilize the political situation in the Palestinian Autonomy. But first Mahmoud Abbas has to make a choice between the continuation of negotiations with Israel and the truce with Hamas.
The two major political factions of the autonomy agreed to set up five committees to form a unity government. It is Hamas to deal with the preparations for the elections to the Autonomy in the next year. This is paradoxically because the result of the parliamentary elections in 2006, in which Hamas won, Fatah boycotted, but President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the government.
The recent Israeli military operation in Gaza against members of Hamas influenced the improvement of relations between Fatah and Hamas. The both sides will benefit of the alliance. Hamas will be able to restore all the infrastructure destroyed by Israeli attacks in Gaza, and have access to the material aid of the League of Arab States. The ruling Fatah will get a chance to improve the political image of autonomy, which was damaged due to the peace process with Israel and to condemn Hamas resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
The right to hold the election was transferred to Hamas in order to avoid Fatah's another political failure in the upcoming elections. Abbas lost control over the Gaza Strip during the previous elections, and it is not ruled out that he will lose the control over the West Coast.
Hamas has every chance to win the elections. Although many experts say weakening of the military and political strength of Hamas after the Israeli 22 days ground and air attacks. The political status of Hamas in the Arab world has increased during the war. This is evident by participation in major conferences in Kuwait and the call of some European countries to Israel and the Fatah organization to joint the peace process.
Previously, the PA government and Tel Aviv reject Hamas's participation in the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue. Movement's participation at the peace conference in Annapolis in 2007 was ignored.
However, if Fatah and Hamas could agree on forming a national government by the end of March, then Israel will face another problem: how to continue the dialogue with its Arab neighbors? If Israel had to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks, which were a response to the blockade of Gaza, Tel Aviv will have to abandon the peace process in the case of a national government so that to maintain their military position in the region.
The Likuid bloc's victory in the elections to Knesset complicates the situation. Likuid leader Benyamin Netanyahu stands for ending the dialogue with the Palestinians. Currently Israel experiences difficult political period: Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu still continue disputing to form a government. Netanyahu is more likely to take the chair of MP.
If Hamas and Fath to unite, then Israel may stop negotiating given the fact that Natanyahu supported eliminating of Hamas during his pre-election campaign. Israeli's position is explainable. Hamas does not recognize Israeli right for existence. This is one of the main demands of international mediators in the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue.
If Israel will close eyes at Hamas participation in the negotiations, then this might undermine country's safety, as movement's leaders prefer a dialogue with Israel through force means. If Israel will agree on Hamas participation in the negotiations, then more radical Palestinian movements as the Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades might ask for this in the future.
Abbas has to choose either the unity of Palestine or continuation of negotiations with Israel.
Israel has to make the analogues choice. Rejection of the negotiations threats a new war not only in Gaza, but on the West Coast. This is unbeneficial for Tel Aviv in terms of domestic political and global financial crisis.