An important question arises in relation to yesterday’s reconciliation agreement reached in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas. Why now?
It seems that a combination of factors both internal and external contributed to this. The change of regime in Egypt, coupled with its withdrawal from
Syria saw Hamas isolated and facing a financial crisis. Things were only going to worsen.
The failing talks with Israel and the jack of strong Arab support, partly due to traditional allies being distracted by the Arab Spring meant Fatah was also isolated, though in a different way.
The Palestinians had no one to turn to but each other. If this opportunity was missed and different alliances formed then the urgency to end the division may have passed.
So what now for the peace process? Well, for as long as it continues to be a process rather than a drive for genuine peace, it is doomed to failure. At the moment, I see no prospect for a just, lasting peace. With or without talks, Israel’s military occupation continues unabated. Repeated, unwelcome settler forced entry into Alaqsa and rising settler terror under the watch of an extremist settler Government incite against peace and for violence.
There is a desperate need for an enlightened Israeli leadership to emerge and quickly before the powder keg explodes. It needs to be one that accepts that Israel can live in peace with the Palestinians and Arab neighbours if it gives up its expansionist colonising policies. It must recognise the Nakba, apologise and seek reconciliation.
The question of one or two state solution can be agreed in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect. The refugees that want to can return to whatever political setup they choose.
There would then be no need for external brokerage by the US but the UN could play its desired role.
Where there is a will there is a way. Once there is a will in Israel for genuine peace, things can move at an astonishing rate. Here is hoping!