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Only A Modus Vivindi Is Possible Between Fatah And Hamas

04 March 2013

By Khalid Amayreh

As widely expected, all reconciliation efforts made recently to end the 6-year rift between Hamas and Fatah have failed to make a real breakthrough. Some pundits are even worried the two sides might once again find themselves in square one, given the inherent mutual lack of trust as well as political disagreements over strategic issues pertaining to the Palestinian question.

One of the fundamental issues impeding concordance between the two groups is the dominant Israeli factor. Israel, whether we like it or not, has the final say with regard to holding Palestinian elections and allowing or disallowing Islamists and other anti-Israeli elements to take part in the electoral process.

This is especially true in the West Bank where the Israeli occupation army continues to patrol every nook and cranny.

This means that the purportedly autonomous Palestinian Authority (PA) is not independent or free enough to take national decisions to restore national unity.

Indeed, the financial, security and political subservience of the PA to Israel makes the notion of achieving national unity with Hamas very remote to put it mildly.

This is actually the main reason reconciliation has not been reached despite the passage of more than six years since the unfortunate events of 2007.

For Israel, the very existence of the PA is meant to carry out the functions of the occupation indirectly. This is the reason the PA security agencies routinely arrest Palestinians upon receiving a request or more correctly an order from Israel through the liaison office which coordinates activities between the two sides.

The PA also effectively protects Jewish settlers and other Israeli occupation targets in general from possible Palestinian acts of resistance.

However, when innocent and helpless Palestinian villagers and farmers are attacked, savaged and shot at by fanatical Jewish settlers, the PA security agencies content themselves with the role of passive spectators.

The defenseless Palestinian victims often cry out for help, but no help reaches them. This is because the PA security forces can't intervene in this case, thanks to the scandalous and humiliating Oslo Accords with Israel.

In fact, the security coordination pact between Israel and the PA regime is directed first and foremost against Hamas. Hence, one is prompted to ask "how on earth can Hamas be united with Fatah in one entity when Fatah refuses to end its collusion and connivance with Israel against the Islamist movement?"

Indeed, Hamas would be more than gullible if it joined Fatah in a national unity scheme under these circumstances.

The other issue is PA insistence to organize elections in the West Bank despite Israeli objections. Again, how could we Palestinians hold free and fair elections when Israel declares day and night it would arrest any member of Hamas taking part in the elections? Does Hamas need to further swell the numbers of its prisoner population in Israeli jails and dungeons?

This is not a hypothetical issue. Following the 2006 elections in the occupied territories, the Israeli occupation army rounded up nearly all male MPs affiliated with Hamas. Even today, there is a number of Islamist MPs who are still languishing in Israeli detention and concentration camps on no grounds other than their participation in the 2006 elections.

Does anyone still remember Sheikh Nayef Rajoub from Dura, who is still suffering in Zionist jails ever since the Shalit affair in 2007 and the declared reason for his prolonged incarceration is his association with the Hamas electoral bloc, the Change and Reform list? Interestingly Rajoub never committed any misdemeanor, or carried out any violation of the law. His only "crime" is his outspokenness against Israeli oppression and terror.

In light, we must not make the same mistake twice. The prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: "A believer shouldn't be bitten from the same snake-hole twice."

More to the point, there seems to be a smell of foul play on Fatah's part in the air.

Fatah knows quite well that Israel would interfere heavily in any prospective elections in the West Bank. This, coupled with the stringent manipulation of the process by the Ramallah regime, would most likely give Fatah a landslide victory against Hamas as many Palestinians, especially among Hamas' supporters, would prefer to stay at home on Election Day lest they be arrested and punished later, either by Israel or the PA or both.

We have argued repeatedly against holding elections under the present circumstances in the West Bank. Indeed, in order to have truly free and fair elections, civil liberties have to be guaranteed. Now, civil liberties are almost nonexistent.

Another point, true elections need a great degree of normalcy, and if normalcy doesn't exist and it doesn't, we need to promote it even if the process takes some time.

We simply have to get people freed from the burden of fear and intimidation which they acquired during six long years of police state apparatus. Only a sufficient period of desensitization would guarantee the restoration of normalcy.

To conclude, there are numerous obstacles impeding the realization of complete reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, given the fundamental ideological and political differences between the two groups. It is therefore unwise and politically disastrous to ignore these differences.

The alternative to complete political reconciliation is not perpetual contention, sullen hostility and conflict. There is something called modus vivindi or positive coexistence.

Our Muslim Jurists and sages had long founded a solid maxim to manage differences. "We cooperate on what we agree on and forgive each other on what we disagree on."

Therefore, Fatah and Hamas must stop running after the unrealistic goal of achieving full national concordance. We have been trying to achieve this goal for too long but to no avail. Now, we should try another strategy: achieving a respectable level of entente and understanding.

Besides, who says that Hamas and Fatah must agree on everything? The two movements can't be made identical and see eye to eye on everything. . If they were to be identical, then only one of them would need to exist while the other movement would have to coalesce into the other.



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