Websites of Hamas and of Muhammad Dahlan have claimed that the Palestinian Authority has reneged on operating the Kerem Shalom Crossing. We will soon be able to gauge the accuracy of these claims.
The question is how will the Hamas-Palestinian Authority differences affect the functioning of the crossing, which is Gaza’s main entrance gate and for the moment running smoothly. If the claims of the PA reversing its position are accurate, then the reconciliation measures not only are not improving the situation in Gaza, which is what was supposed to happen, but could be making it worse.
On November 11, 2017, Fatah supporters celebrated the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death – or his “murder” as they see it. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in a recorded speech that was blared through loudspeakers, threw cold water on the hope that the sanctions he imposed on Gaza will be lifted, saying it would happen only after the agreements were fully implemented. He was preceded by the commander of the Ramallah police, who said the crossing could not operate unless Palestinian security personnel were fully deployed in Gaza. Hamas flatly rejects that option.
At present, the organizations affiliated with the PLO are preparing for a meeting in Cairo to approve the reconciliation agreement. It is not clear, however, what constitutes the agreement. The document that was originally signed in Cairo is not an “agreement,” and there is now a dispute over whether earlier agreements signed in 2011 or 2005 qualify as the real agreement.
Many of these organizations are on the Iranian side of the spectrum, including Hamas itself. It is not clear what the large celebration in Cairo with pro-Iranian elements in it signifies at a time when winds of war are blowing between Saudi Arabia and Iran.