When Fatah signed its power-sharing agreement with Hamas back in May the deal was hailed as part of Mahmoud Abbas' bold strategy to bolster his bid for U.N. recognition and membership by showing the Palestinians were united in their desire for statehood.
It was all about credibility, he said, hoping to counter the claims of Israelis and others that the geographic as well as philosophical divisions between the rival Palestinian factions rendered them unready and unqualified for independence. The Islamists of Hamas controlled Gaza, which they had grabbed in a violent coup from the secular nationalist Fatah, which controls the West Bank.
The Europeans and the Russians as well as many Palestinians welcomed the deal.
Israel, with strong American backing, rejected it on the grounds that it brought a banned terrorist organization into the Palestinian Authority, and was thus an obstacle to peace. Abbas had to choose between embracing Hamas and making peace with Israel; he couldn't have both.
Abbas had argued the unity deal would be an incentive for Israel to return to the bargaining table on Palestinian terms. Some of his backers even argued that Israel was responsible for forcing the Fatah-Hamas marriage by its refusal to meet Abbas' demands for resuming talks.
Now Abbas' grand strategy appears to be crumbling. The two parties – which hate each other almost as much as they hate the Zionists – are blaming each other for their failure to launch. Leaders of the two factions are having trouble sitting down together much less deciding who will run their unity government – if it ever even materializes. They're still arresting each other's operatives and sound more like a couple on the way to divorce court and not the altar.
Now we're hearing that the power-sharing pact has become a distraction and implementation may have to be postponed until after the U.N. takes up the question of Palestinian statehood this fall.
Hamas has said it opposes the plan and was not consulted on it, reports the Jerusalem Post, or simply considers it "an exercise in futility," according to Ma'an, the pro-Fatah Palestinian news agency.
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