Rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas reached a unity agreement Wednesday after four years of fighting. The initial agreement, signed by representatives following a series of secret meetings in Cairo and Damascus, is aimed at paving the way for UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state in September, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby.
The initial plan signed Wednesday stipulates that a single “national unity” interim government will be formed in the coming days, which “will be tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year,” according to Fatah Central Committee Member Azzam Ahmad. The final agreement is expected to be signed in early May by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Egypt.
Mahmoud Abbas (R) of Fatah and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas headed the last unity government in 2007.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a televised statement, saying, “[The] Palestinian Authority needs to choose between peace with the people of Israel and peace with Hamas. You cannot have peace with both, because Hamas aspires to destroy the State of Israel, and it says so openly.”
If this agreement is actualized next month and put into process, it will be one of the greatest watersheds for Palestinians and Israelis alike since Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It will have effectively allowed a terrorist organization to gain control of large parts of a Palestinian government without needing to modify its destructionist position against Israel – now or ever. Simply put, with a unity government that does not force Hamas to relinquish its anti-Israel position, it is next to impossible for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to come to fruition.