Hamas and Fatah: The Unity Government That Isn't - and Won't Be
Each time Fatah and Hamas announce that they are close to ending their dispute, the Palestinians quickly discover that the two rival parties are not telling the truth.
In many ways, the status quo is not all bad for Fatah and Hamas.
The two parties have, in fact, a common interest in maintaining the status quo for as long as ever.
For Fatah, which is in control of large parts of the West Bank, the situation could not be better.
Thanks to continued American and EU financial aid, the economy in the West Bank is relatively good, and tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority civil servants are receiving their salaries on time.
Those who think that Fatah is dying to go back to the Gaza Strip are deluding themselves.
Since it was thrown out of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Fatah is no longer being held responsible for what goes on in that area.
The Fatah leadership is no longer being blamed for the rocket and missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip, and no one is accusing Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad of failing to improve the living conditions of the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.
Before 2007, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority was held responsible for everything that went wrong in the Gaza Strip, including terror attacks against Israel.
Fatah is no longer being held responsible for the poverty or the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels from Egypt.
Fatah is now sitting in the West Bank and benefiting from the millions of dollars that are being poured into its coffers every month.
Ironically, Israel's security presence in the West Bank is one of the main reasons why Abbas and Fayyad are still in power. The Fatah leaders know that the day Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will become so strong that it will seize control of the area in a matter of days or weeks.
For Hamas, on the other hand, the status quo is good because the Islamist movement continues to control the Gaza Strip without facing real challenges. Five years of economic sanctions, blockades and military operations have failed to undermine Hamas's tight grip on the Gaza Strip.
The "Arab Spring," which appears to have been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in the Arab world, as well as the recent prisoner exchange agreement with Israel, have only bolstered Hamas's standing among its constituents in the Gaza Strip.
Both Fatah and Hamas have their own governments and security forces in the areas under their control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
They even have their own prisons, where they hold and torture each other's detainees.
While Abbas and Fayyad are receiving money from the Americans and Europeans, Hamas has been getting financial aid from Iran and some Gulf countries.
Both Fatah and Hamas know that unity means loosing the financial backing of their patrons in the West and Tehran and the Arab world.
That is why they are not in a rush to strike any deal to form a unity government. Who needs such a government when the Palestinians already have two governments?
Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have twice lied to the Palestinians in the past six months.
The first time was in May, when the two men announced in Cairo that they had reached a "historic" reconciliation agreement to end their differences and form a unity government. The second time was last week, when they met once again in the Egyptian capital and declared that they had agreed to open a new page in their relations and work as partners.
Many Palestinians remain skeptical about the intentions of Fatah and Hamas. They know that the two parties would rather preserve the status quo than risk losing financial aid because of a unity government. As far as Hamas and Fatah are concerned, two Palestinian states are better than one.
Comment on this item
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.
by Irfan Al-Alawi
"Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi" is Abu Du'a, a follower of the late Osama Bin Laden. By adding the name "Al-Qurayshi" in his current alias, he is also seeking to affirm descent from Muhammad.
The allegation of theological sovereignty over all Sunnis extends to Indonesia and Morocco. The idea that the borders between Syria and Iraq will be dissolved by the new "caliphate" defies all Islamic theology and history. As the Qur'an states, "Allah "made the nations and tribes different." (49:13) Syria and Iraq have been distinct for millennia.
The "Islamic State" seeks to obliterate these diverse identities by expelling or killing all Shias and Sunni Sufis. And it does not invoke the Ottoman caliphate in its propaganda, demonstrating decisively the fake nature of the "Islamic State."
A caliphate is obsolete and the "Islamic State" is totalitarian. All Sunnis need to repudiate them soundly, even by force of arms.