The possiblity of unity between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine - a sign of hope?

 Over the past decade, Hamas and Fatah have negotiated and signed agreements, but no real peace has been achieved. But now the situation seems to be changing. When the Arab states abandoned the Palestinians and were eager to establish relations with Israel, when Trump declared "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel", when the Palestinians were stripped of their land in the name of the Century Agreement, when illegal settlements of Israel in the West Bank were legalized, at that time, Hamas and Fatah, the two main pro-independence parties in Palestine, agreed to negotiate, forgetting the long-standing animosity.

How optimistic could Palestinians be?

The dialogues have raised hopes and fears simultaneously in the lives of Palestinians. According to Al Jazeera, the top leaders of Fatah and Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniya respectively, have agreed to hold elections within the next six months after lengthy negotiations.

This election will be in a few steps. The process will start with the local government and then the presidential election will be held. People in Gaza, Ramallah and the West Bank came out to the streets to celebrate the election. They are hoping for a settlement between the two main parties. However, political analysts do not see the light of hope in the election for two reasons.

Firstly, the rift between Fatah and Hamas is not a mere conflict, it is an ideological one. This ideological divide is directly linked to the two major blocs in the Middle East, including Washington, London, and Moscow. Therefore, the election will perpetuate the suffering of the common people by inciting this ideological division.

Secondly, the return of UAE exiled former politician, Mohammed Dahlan, to Palestine. Dahlan, who was once Fatah leader, is now an adviser to Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE. In recent times, Dahlan has been called the mastermind of the honeymoon of Israel and the Arab world. According to mainstream Israeli media, the Saudi bloc and the United States expect to see Mohammed Dahlan as the head of Fatah in the post-Mahmoud Abbas era.

Analysts fear that Hamas and Fatah could be embroiled in a protracted war if the Western-backed Dahlan Fatah is headed. So it will be troublesome to get rid of the conflict in the post-election period.

History behind the conflict

In 1968, throughout the aftermath of the first Palestinian intifada, Hamas was formed in Gaza. The party was established by the part of a dissident group of Fatah, in collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood. Ideologically, Fatah and Hamas are completely different. Where Fatah predominated socialist and secular ideologies, Hamas defined the fight against colonialism from a purely religious perspective. Over time, the conflict between Hamas and Fatah became durable.

Relations finally deteriorated in 1993; when Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords with Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Robin, at the behest of the West, especially the United States.

Through this agreement, Fatah recognized the state of Israel and Israel recognized Fatah as the sole representative of Palestine, eliminating Hamas from the negotiating table. Through this agreement, Arafat ascertained Israeli control over the Palestinian economy and security. He even ended a large-scale armed struggle against Israel.

From Edward Said to all anti-colonial thinkers, were shocked by the agreement. Saeed did not mention Arafat's agreement as "treaty" but referred to it as a surrender to Israel, which is reflected in Saeed's book "The End of the Peace Process".

After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian anti-colonial movement came to an end. The moral stance of the movement began to fade. In addition to being involved in corruption and nepotism, several high-ranking Fatah officials, with the help of the West, settled in other Arab and Western countries. The main strength of any struggle is uncompromising. A little concession in this struggle can dust off the whole movement. It could even provide legitimacy to the occupation of organized power.

Over the period, Fatah has not been able to exempt itself from this consequence. Just as Fatah embraced the West and halted the anti-colonial movement and recognized Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, in the same way, the Syrian PKK has abandoned its ideological struggle against Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey in the hope of forming a new racist Kurdish state in cooperation with the US, and has weakened the socialist movement in the Middle East by embracing Americans.

The fight against colonialism is a prolonged process. This process requires time, patience and a tactical approach. From the final days of the Ottomans, the Palestinians began to lose their farmlands and homes to the Jews expelled from Europe. In the beginning, a resistance movement from Palestinians was formed by small groups. But even though the resistance failed against the trained British troops, it prepared the new generation of Palestinians for a long-term anti-colonial movement.

A humanitarian catastrophe ensued on May 14, 1948, when the Zionists occupied Palestinian territory. They invaded about 80 per cent of Palestinian land, evicted about 800,000 inhabitants, and destroyed more than a thousand Palestinian villages to form the state of Israel. Fatah was formed in 1950 by the militant zeal of Yasser Arafat and his collaborators. Palestinians living in Kuwait were also engaged in this party to liberate the motherland from occupation by confronting this catastrophe.

Fatah, a rare blend of Islamist and socialist thought, became the voice of all Palestinians for decades to come, and Yasser Arafat became a symbol of the struggle against imperialism and colonialism around the world, during the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war (1967).

However, Arafat's anti-colonialism image began to vanish from the minds of the Palestinians and the people of the world when Arafat agreed to negotiate with Israel in the wake of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1962 to overthrow Arafat and Fatah. Arafat alone should not be blamed for this. The subsequent hostility of the Arab states and Arafat's age were also accountable.

Arafat's suicidal decision provoked a part of his party to leave so that they could continue the anti-colonial struggle on its own. They were quite uncertain about the future of the peace deal. The apostate group's main argument was that Fatah would not be able to negotiate with the great Western powers and the well-organized state of Israel. Meanwhile, Israel and the United States will never abide by the two-state agreement.

So the peace talks are nothing more than legitimizing the Israeli occupation. With this announcement, the dissidents who abandoned Fatah think that the true liberation lies in the continuation of the struggle.

Hamas, which was born in the first intifada became popular with the Palestinians due to their non-compromising mentality during the second intifada of 2000. Capitalizing on this popularity, Hamas defeated Yasser Arafat's Fatah in the election of 2008. Hamas won in 76 of the 132 seats whereas Fatah won only in 43 seats.

One of the reasons for Fatah's defeat in the election was to compromise with Israel and sell out the Palestinian struggle. One year after the formation of the Hamas government, President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas government on the guidance of Condoleezza Rice, one of the leaders in the US-led war on terror. 

Future of Hamas and the Palestinian dream

The real quicksand of Western democracy is hidden behind the incident mentioned above. In the name of democracy, the West wants to win the elections of its allies, where the will of the mass people is not respected. If the Allies were defeated, they overthrew the government with economic blockades or military coups by citing human rights abuses. In a larger sense, the fate of Hamas is not much distinct from that of contemporary Maduro of Venezuela or Evo Morales of Bolivia.

The question may arise as to whether the West is ready to give other countries a chance to practice democracy. The Palestinians do not know whether there will be an election at all, or whether the West will accept the outcome of the election. However, this partial discussion has raised hopes among the Palestinian people about resolving the conflict between Fatah and Hamas. In the post-election period, Fatah and the Saudi bloc will surely force Hamas to abandon its armed struggle. 

Considering the turmoil in regional and global politics, if Hamas lays down its arms, there are still doubts about the existence of Palestinian territory in the next decade. Amid this tragedy, the good news for Palestine is that influential people in Gaza, Ramallah and local communities in the West Bank have reunited to resolve the "conflict" between Fatah and Hamas.

These landless and oppressed people think that Trump and the Saudi bloc are giving Israel absolute sovereignty over Palestine through the 'Century Agreement'. So, now it is the time for a new collective struggle against colonialism and occupation

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