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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fatah/Hamas reconciliation efforts at a standstill. What will happen next?

Asharq al Awsat interviewed people involved in the negotiations between Hamas and Fatah after their much heralded "Doha Declaration" - and see that nothing has changed, nor is it likely to in the foreseeable future.

According to statements made by senior officials of Fatah and Hamas, efforts are being made to resume the dialogue between the two groups on ways to implement the provisions of "the Doha Declaration". In fact, reconciliation and the efforts being made to achieve them entered are in a "deep sleep that were not quite comatose," a Palestinian official told Asharq al Awsat.

From Saudi Arabia to Egypt, all state actors are ignoring calls for an independent party to intervene to put an end to the war of words between the two movements and prepare the conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of meetings between them, in order to discuss forming a government of national reconciliation and implementation of other items agreed upon in the Doha Declaration. Palestinian sources say that the General Intelligence Service of Egypt, which is the main channel of communication between representatives of Hamas and Fatah and the patron of the meetings between the parties, does not show enthusiasm to mediate between the parties again, in the wake of the tension and verbal bickering between them and Hamas, against the backdrop of explicit accusations last week that Egyptian intelligence is responsible for causing the crisis in electricity and fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip.

Some of the officials of the government in Gaza called for the dismissal of the Egyptian official in the Gaza Strip because of Egypt's insistence for the need of Egyptian fuel to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is controlled by the Israeli army, an idea that was rejected by Hamas.

The sources pointed out that the recent efforts of Turkey and Qatar to bring the two parties together was exaggerated. They explained that the Turks, who were met with Chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas Khaled Mashaal in Ankara recently to discuss with him about the future of reconciliation, did not show a great interest to follow up on the matter.

Meanwhile, Hamas arrested another bunch of Fatah members, in the spirit of true reconciliation. They also are reportedly banning one from leaving Gaza for needed surgery.

There has still been no movement on setting up the much ballyhooed elections, so that idea is becoming more and more remote as well. Each little dictatorship is quite happy with the power they have and don't want to gamble it away.

No doubt, in a few weeks or months when the people catch on, there will be some demonstrations and then Hamas and Fatah will go on the next round of "meetings" and "agreements" - cosmetic steps to give the illusion of unity. They'll keep it up as long as they can.

When Abbas dies or has a stroke, then Hamas will have their chance to take over the West Bank since there is no other Fatah leader with any following who is not in jail serving time for multiple murders.

After that, Western analysts will fall over themselves to explain how moderate Hamas is and how inflexible Israel is, and some pseudo-Zionists will keep insisting that Israel must give up defensible borders because of vague fears about Israel losing its democratic character, somehow outweighing very concrete fears of an Iranian satellite state within spitting distance of Israel's major population centers.