Palestine must reunite. The disastrous split between Fatah and Hamas has been a gift to the Israelis and a tragedy for the Palestinians. It has allowed successive Israeli governments to manipulate events to their satisfaction and to expand their control of the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, while their blockade of Gaza has continued unabated. Mahmoud Abbas was elected as president of the Palestinian National Authority in January 2005 and his term ran out in 2009. Since then, he has continued in office citing a 2009 vote by the Palestine Liberation Organisation Central Council, but this has not been recognised by Fatah’s main rival, Hamas.
Fatah controls the West Bank and Hamas runs the Gaza Strip and the two follow very different policies and administrations. The legislative assembly is due to reconvene for the first time in a decade, but that is not linked to any sudden outburst of Palestinian unity and instead is focused on the removal of parliamentary immunity from five members.
The Palestinian people have suffered the terrible impact of occupation and tyranny for far too long and a just peace is essential for them and the wider security of the Middle East. A clear Palestinian voice that speaks for the entire population will be a vital first step to get the Palestinian requirements back on the international agenda. At the moment, they languish outside of anyone’s care and the Palestinians suffer the daily horrors of occupation with no hope of any immediate relief.
In addition, the Palestinians will have to cope with a new problem in the shape of United States President-elect Donald Trump’s new ambassador to Israel, who is pro-Israeli-colonist, right-wing Jewish bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, and has said that he wants to move the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem.
This devastating move will have dire consequences for any hope of a peaceful solution and will trigger a wave of illegal colony activity all over the West Bank. It is significant that this affront to international law has not been denied by any Trump spokesman. It will also sideline America’s ability to have any mediation role in the conflict giving the other members of the Quartet more influence that has a particular importance for Russia as it has won a major role in Syria.
This all adds up to a frightening prospect for the Palestinians, for which they are ill-prepared and need to get organised.