United Palestinians Stand, Divided…

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. Even though this is largely a symbolic gesture and President Abbas has asked the former World Bank economist to continue, it is perhaps the first serious signal by Abu Mazen’s Fatah that it’s prepared for Palestinian reconciliation and unity and possibly a national unity government with Hamas and other groups.

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Published: Mon 9 Mar 2009, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

Which is a welcome development. Salam Fayyad will be around for some time, at least until a unity government shapes up. However, the symbolic departure of the former World Bank official, who is largely seen as a US-backed candidate, will send the right message to the Palestinians and others.

Egypt is hosting Palestinian unity talks in Cairo and is pushing for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as well as other smaller groups and factions. The unity initiative is of course backed by the Arab League and other leading Arab nations including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately though, there is little optimism in the Arab world including Palestinian territories about these well-meaning efforts leading to a positive outcome. Just as there is little hope about the Palestinian question being resolved in near future. Saudi King Abdullah twice succeeded in bringing the Hamas and Fatah leadership together in the holy city of Makkah persuading them to bury the hatchet in the interest of their suffering people.

The Hamas government, although democratically elected through a free and fair vote, was considerably weakened by crippling economic boycott and sanctions imposed by Israel, the United States and others. Eventually President Abbas, encouraged by the Western backing, dismissed the Hamas government and sacked Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

Which provoked Hamas to fight pitched battles with Fatah fighters driving them out of Gaza and set up its own administration in the Strip. All this is very unfortunate. But the history of Palestinian struggle is full of such tragic episodes with regional and big powers playing one Palestinian group against another adding to the woes of a victimised people. Let’s hope Palestinian parties and their leaders have drawn necessary lessons from their history to avoid once again playing into the hands of their enemies and big powers.

The unity in Palestinian ranks is not only necessary to realise their long cherished dream of freedom and their own homeland but also essential to survive as a people.

The Palestinian unity comes before everything. Both Hamas and Fatah and other groups must realise that they cannot achieve anything on their own. Before confronting Israel, before engaging the world and before realising their people’s dreams and aspirations, Palestinian leaders have to confront their own insecurities and partisan, self-serving agendas. Their long-suffering people are looking to them with hope in their hearts and prayers on their lips. The Palestinian parties must not disappoint and let them down again. United they stand the chance of protecting their people’s future - or what remains of it. Divided they fall - in disgrace all over again. Unity is the key.

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