The Palestinian Reconciliation Agreement - Context, Consequences and Open Questions

(BICOM) Brig. Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog - After the September Palestinian reconciliation agreement signed under Egyptian auspices, the Palestinian Authority is back in Gaza for the first time in ten years and is assuming responsibility for the Strip in the civilian arena. The upside of the deal for the West and Israel lies in the fact it turns Hamas away from Qatar and towards Egypt and the UAE; it allows for addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza; and it enhances the potential for a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. But despite the agreement, there is a very different view of the deal in Ramallah than in Gaza. For Abbas, the deal is about Hamas handing over all responsibilities in Gaza to the PA, so he can present himself as representing both areas. For Hamas, the reconciliation deal should allow Hamas free political action in the West Bank and to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Ultimately, Hamas' goal is to take over the PLO in the post-Abbas era. At the same time, as its leadership repeatedly emphasizes, Hamas is not going to give up its military wing, forsake its Islamist character, and agree to recognize Israel. Moreover, Hamas continues to foster excellent relations with the regional "axis of resistance" led by Iran. Once the U.S. launches its peace initiative, will Israel be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, or is backed by it? Netanyahu has said this isn't going to happen and his position has been supported by the U.S. According to the reconciliation deal, both parties committed to resolve the issue of salaries of Hamas civil servants by February 2018. The UAE is willing to provide some funding but not for all 40,000 people. An EU official recently calculated that covering salaries would amount to $40 million a month or $480 million a year. I don't see any enthusiasm in the international community to provide funds to cover this financial burden. The writer is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.

2017-11-10 00:00:00

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