Joy mixed with cau­tion in Gaza af­ter Pales­tinian unity deal

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION - By Ni­dal al-Mughrabi

It didn’t take long af­ter the fire­work smoke cleared in Gaza for some Pales­tini­ans to start ques­tion­ing whether a unity deal be­tween their two most pow­er­ful fac­tions would hold.

Thou­sands took to the streets overnight cel­e­brat­ing the pact be­tween Fatah and Ha­mas sealed in Cairo. Loud­speak­ers blasted na­tional songs as young­sters wav­ing Pales­tinian and Egyp­tian flags danced and hugged one another.

“I am happy, no I am the hap­pi­est,” Ali Met­waly, a 30-year-old com­puter en­gi­neer, said the morn­ing af­ter. “But I am still afraid it will end in dis­ap­point­ment. My lead­ers have taught me they can eas­ily dis­ap­point us. I hope they don’t, this time.”

Un­der the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion pact, Ha­mas is hand­ing over ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of Gaza, in­clud­ing the Rafah bor­der cross­ing – once the main gate­way to the world for the 2 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans in the ter­ri­tory – to a gov­ern­ment backed by the main­stream Fatah party.

A decade ago, Ha­mas forces seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces in a brief civil war. Past Egyp­tian me­di­a­tion at­tempts to rec­on­cile the two ri­vals failed to achieve last­ing re­sults. The lat­est clinched its elu­sive agree­ment af­ter an eco­nomic squeeze on Ha­mas.

An­a­lysts said the deal is more likely to stick than ear­lier ones, given Ha­mas’ grow­ing iso­la­tion and re­al­iza­tion of how hard Gaza – its econ­omy hob­bled by bor­der block­ades and in­fra­struc­ture shat­tered by wars with Is­rael – was to re­build.

For Huwaida al-Ha­didi, a 34year-old mother-of-seven, eco­nomic re­lief can­not come soon enough.

Like about 250,000 other peo­ple in the ter­ri­tory, her hus­band is unem­ployed. Un­able to pay their

rent, the fam­ily has been liv­ing in a tent since their land­lord evicted them three days ago.

“Now that they signed a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal, God-will­ing the block­ade will be lifted and peo­ple will find work and be able to earn a liv­ing for their chil­dren,” she said.

Con­trol of the Gaza bor­der cross­ings with Is­rael and Egypt by the Fatah-dom­i­nated Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, which ex­er­cises lim­ited self-rule in the oc­cu­pied West Bank, could al­low freer move­ment of peo­ple and goods across the fron­tier.

And un­der the agree­ment, about 3,000 Fatah se­cu­rity of­fi­cers are to join the Gaza po­lice force, although Ha­mas would re­main the most pow­er­ful armed Pales­tinian fac­tion, with 25,000 well-equipped mil­i­tants.

Ha­mas and Fatah are also de­bat­ing a po­ten­tial date for pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions and re­forms of the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which is in charge of longstalled peace ef­forts with Is­rael.

The last Pales­tinian leg­isla­tive elec­tions were in 2006, when Ha­mas scored a sur­prise vic­tory. That trig­gered the po­lit­i­cal rup­ture be­tween Ha­mas and Fatah, which even­tu­ally led to their short civil war in Gaza.

Pales­tinian po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Mustafa Ibra­ham said with ma­jor is­sues, such as an elec­tion date and agree­ment on a com­mon po­lit­i­cal agenda, still out­stand­ing, Pales­tini­ans should be cau­tious.

“Im­por­tant de­tails were post­poned and open for in­ter­pre­ta­tion and dis­agree­ment,” he said in a Face­book post.

Ha­mas, which has fought three wars with Is­rael since 2008 and is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist group by the West, has said it will not aban­don the “arms of re­sis­tance.” Is­rael has said Ha­mas must dis­arm, or the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion will be mean­ing­less.

Peo­ple re­lease pigeons dur­ing an event to show sup­port for a unity deal be­tween ri­val Pales­tinian fac­tions Ha­mas and Fatah, in Gaza City.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.