Egyptian sources announced this week that August 25th will be “Palestinian Unity Day.” Ironically, this declaration follows months of failed Egyptian-mediated talks between the two warring Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, to form a unity government.
Efforts to forge unity among the Palestinians have repeatedly failed since Hamas took the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007. Subsequent talks in Saudi Arabia broke down after fighting flared up again. Yemen-based negotiations in 2008 ended because of Hamas’ efforts to extend its control into parts of the West Bank.
Palestinian unity, while illusive, remains critical to the Obama administration’s efforts to achieve peace in the region. As the JPC’s Jonathan Schanzer points out in his book, Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine, as long as Hamas and Fatah remain two distinct non-governments ruling two non-states, Israel will lack a credible interlocutor, which is a basic necessity for any diplomatic endeavor.