Thursday, May 5, 2011

Palestinian reconciliation: Nudge it along

The West and Israel, for their own good, should encourage Palestinians to get together

Published by "The Economist", May 5th 2011

AMID the joy of the Arab awakening, the most stubbornly insoluble of all the Middle East’s problems, the argument between Jews and Arabs over the Holy Land, seemed almost forgotten and perhaps better shelved for the next few years. No more. The upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world are affecting even the Palestinians—and by extension the Israelis. On May 4th the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, bloodily at odds for many years, signed an historic agreement to support a national-unity government in the Palestinian territories: the Gaza Strip, now ruled by Hamas, and the West Bank, ruled by an authority under the sway of Fatah.

The Israeli government under Binyamin Netanyahu has rubbished the Palestinian deal, declaring that it will shun any Palestinian administration that includes or is backed by the Islamists of Hamas, because it doggedly refuses to recognise Israel. If he sticks to his word, the prospect of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the near future is zero. Mr Netanyahu’s loathing of Hamas is understandable, yet he is wrong to scorn Palestinian reconciliation. The Hamas-Fatah deal is good news, because peace between Palestinians could be a stepping stone on the road to peace with Israel. Read more...

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