Unity deal of­fers hope for res­i­dents of Gaza Strip

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FROM PAGE ONE / WORLD -

CAIRO >> Af­ter a decade of hos­til­ity and re­crim­i­na­tion, the two main Pales­tinian fac­tions came to­gether in Cairo on Thurs­day to sign a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal that holds out the tan­ta­liz­ing prospect of a united Pales­tinian front. Hopes for the agree­ment, signed un­der the watch­ful eye of Egyp­tian in­tel­li­gence, were tem­pered by the knowl­edge that many pre­vi­ous Pales­tinian ini­tia­tives have failed. Yet there is op­ti­mism that this time may be dif­fer­ent, partly be­cause the stakes are so much higher. For the 2 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans of Gaza, trapped in a tiny coastal strip that is fre­quently com­pared to an open-air prison, the Cairo deal of­fered a po­ten­tial respite from their lives of dire short­ages of elec­tric­ity and life­sav­ing medicine.

For the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship, it held out the prospect of ne­go­ti­at­ing with Is­rael with a sin­gle voice, even as it forced the di­vided ter­ri­tory’s most rad­i­cal mil­i­tants to make painful con­ces­sions. Ha­mas, which con­trols Gaza and has fought Is­rael three times, said it was ready to cede con­trol of Gaza’s bor­ders and al­low the ri­val Pales­tinian Author­ity to ef­fec­tively take over the day-to-day run­ning of the ter­ri­tory.

It was a sober­ing re­al­ity check for a group that, de­spite years of fiery de­fi­ance and arms sup­plies from Iran, can­not rule Gaza with­out help from Fatah, the ri­val fac­tion that con­trols the Pales­tinian Author­ity and was driven out of Gaza in vi­o­lent clashes 10 years ago.

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