Divided Over Israel, Palestinian Groups Call for Unity

By Reuters

Published December 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Leaders of the feuding Palestinian factions, the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza and the secular Fatah government in the West Bank, urged reconciliation between the two former foes on Sunday despite diverging policies on Israel.

Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter pulled off a surprise win in 2006 parliamentary polls. A brief, bloody civil war a year later saw Hamas eject Fatah from Gaza, leaving Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, to consolidate his power base in the West Bank.

The two groups are hoping to boost ties on the heels of an eight-day war with Israel last month, which buoyed Hamas, and a Fatah-led initiative at the United Nations General Assembly, that recognised a de facto Palestinian state.

But Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, visiting the Gaza Strip for the first time, struck a hard line against recognising Israel or negotiating with it for a state on the lines pre-dating the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, just as Fatah’s Abbas pledged himself to diplomacy and non-violence.

“Let bygones be bygones,” Meshaal told an audience at Gaza’s Islamic University. “Responsibility for Palestine is bigger than one faction alone … Hamas cannot do without Fatah and Fatah cannot do without Hamas,” he added.

Hamas and Fatah have sought unity before, but a succession of Arab-brokered plans have repeatedly run aground over issues such as the holding of new elections, releasing prisoners and the make-up of Palestinian security forces.

In the days before Meshaal’s homecoming, Hamas eased curbs on Fatah partisans in Gaza.

However, the Hamas leader made no concrete proposals for reconciliation and stuck to the party line on Israel, saying he would never recognise the Jewish State even in its original 1948 borders, telling Fatah that “resistance” was the way forward.

Abbas on Sunday told Arab League diplomats that the two groups wanted to overcome their differences. “The reconciliation is dear to us and to the unity of our people, especially in the present time, when we are talking about a Palestinian state and about getting something new,” he said, but stressed talks with Israel.

“If we put aside the negotiating table, the alternative would be war,” Abbas told envoys at a meeting in Doha. “Are we ready for war? I say no.”

Their fundamental differences aside, top Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed praised Meshaal’s reconciliation push as “positive,” but cautioned his remarks contained nothing new.

Meshaal and other top Hamas leaders have earlier mooted a long-term truce with Israel based on the 1967 lines, but say this does not mean they are ready to recognise Israel’s right to exist in the rest of the territory.

Israel says it will only accept a demilitarised Palestinian state, and says Hamas’s history of suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli towns makes it a terrorist group – a stance the United States and European Union endorse.

Israel criticised Abbas for not condemning Meshaal’s comments and for seeking unity with the Islamist group.

“What is interesting is that (Abbas), of all people, did not condemn the (Hamas) words calling for Israel’s destruction, just as previously he did not condemn the rockets fired at Israel (from Gaza),” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

(Editing by Stephen Powell)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.