The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation seems to be making people happy in Gaza City, but there is a long road ahead for the two new friends, and one that is potentially full of potholes.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh moved swiftly to fill one, calling for non-Hamas or Fatah-affiliated militants to cease attacking Israel to allow the new unity to take hold. He added this warning to all his fellow politicians:
“We should not give in to political or economic extortion which would impede this reconciliation and national achievement. Let the enemy declare what they want, our only relationship with them is struggle, not mutual satisfaction.”
In the meantime the Palestinian president is touring Europe where his deal with Hamas, which the EU classes as a terrorist organisation, has been greeted frostily. Angela Merkel avoided being too critical:
“We want to have a two-state solution. And this two-state solution needs some work doing on it. We don’t believe that unilateral steps can help us progress.”
Merkel sounded supportive, but Germany will always be wary of upsetting Israel.
In Paris the French president had no such reticence, telling the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, failing progress, France might recognise a Palestinian state by the end of the year.
Netanyahu made no public response to this:
“I don’t want to elaborate on the details of our talks but the principle is clear, whoever talks about peace with Israel has to recognise the state of Israel. Peace will comprise a demilitarised Palestinian state that acknowledges the Jewish state as the nation state of the Jewish people.”
Hamas and Fatah have, it seems, at least set the Middle East ball rolling again, even if none of the players seem sure what the game is just yet.
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