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There will never be Palestinian reconciliation, says analyst

Israel rejects conditions laid out by Mahmoud Abbas

Gulf News

Ramallah: Reconciliation is a method for the Palestinian leadership to pressure Israel, according to an analyst who spoke to Gulf News.

“The Ramallah leadership uses this tactic as a negotiating tool to press Israel and the US Administration, knowing that reconciliation with Hamas will have major implications for the entire peace process,” said Dr Abdul Sattar Qasem, who heads the Political Science Department at Al Najah National University in Nablus.

“Fatah and the Ramallah government have used this tactic several times in the past,” he told Gulf News.

Downplaying the latest announcement of a possible unity government, he said that reconciliation was “buried a long time ago”.

Qasem said that as long as the Ramallah government adheres to security coordination with Israel, there will never be internal reconciliation between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas. “Even if fake reconciliation was achieved, such a unity would not surely last long,” he maintained. “Neither Fatah nor Hamas is serious about Palestinian reconciliation; each party is a beneficiary and has its own already running government.”

The Ramallah government cannot turn back to the peace talks with Israel, he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an ultimatum to choose whether he wants peace with Israel or reconciliation with Hamas, claiming that Abbas cannot have both. “He must choose,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

Netanyahu’s comments came amid reports that Abbas’s Fatah (which rules the West Bank) had agreed to form a unity national government with its rival, Hamas (which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007) by the mid of the coming June to be followed six months later by Palestinian general elections (mid-January 2015).

During a meeting with Israeli journalists, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas laid out his three conditions for extending the April 29 deadline and continuing talks with Israel for nine new months: that Israel releases the fourth stage of Palestinian prisoners including prisoners of the 1948 areas with no deportation whatsoever; that Israel freezes all colony construction and that the first three months of the extended talks deal with the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Israel meanwhile had rejected those conditions.

Amir Peretz, Israeli Environment Protection Minister of Hatnuah Party, highlighted the progress which the Tuesday’s five-hour negotiations with the Palestinians had achieved.

“The coming days will be decisive as those days will require fateful decisions,” the former Israeli defence minister told the Israeli Walla. “There has been no new deal, but there has been a progress in the ongoing negotiations, with a new round of negotiations scheduled to take place before the end of this week.”