Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Abbas, Hamas, and Dahlan

I mostly agree with this analysis of the Palestinian reconciliation deal:
Abbas’ strategy finally paid off, in an agreement that at least on paper suggests a total Hamas capitulation and a clear political victory for Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Islamic movement suddenly began speaking of Abbas as president and even applauded one of this speeches that reiterated his commitment to the peace talks. Hamas has agreed to yield its government to a unity cabinet made up of technocrats, none of whom will be known Hamas members. The Islamic movement has also crucially agreed to presidential and parliamentary elections to be conducted no later than six months after the formation of the unity government. The most important political concession, however, is that Hamas agreed to join the PLO and all its institutions...
For the PLO, Hamas' capitulation was made abundantly clear when the PLO’s Central Council met in Ramallah on April 26. Addressing the second highest PLO committee, Abbas reiterated that the unity government, as stipulated in the signed April 23 reconciliation, will continue to recognize Israel, renounce terror and adhere to all previously signed agreements. Most important, Abbas said publicly that he wanted to continue the negotiations with Israel irrespective of the reconciliation, a sure sign that Hamas had capitulated politically to the PLO.
Both Abbas and Hamas needed a deal.  Hamas's position in Gaza has eroded considerably over the past year.  The Syrian Civil War put it in opposition to Iran, its major foreign patron, which had cuts its share of financial support.  In addition, the new military government of Egypt has joined fully in the Israeli blockade of Gaza, including by cracking down on the smuggling tunnels which were one of the group's sources of revenue and legitimacy in terms of bringing material into the territory.  On Abbas's side, he is facing a leadership challenge from Muhammad Dahlan, and reuniting the Palestinian movement under his leadership represents a major victory.



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