A Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah traveled from Ramallah to Gaza today, October 2, 2017. At the same time, a delegation from Egyptian intelligence is scheduled to arrive in Gaza – the first official Egyptian entry into Gaza in decades. There is a definite push for a PA-Hamas “reconciliation” to go forward, and seemingly, chances are greater than in the past that the Ramallah government will return to rule Gaza.
A realistic appraisal, however, indicates that despite the encouraging words there still is no agreement about anything. Hamas and Fatah have no plans to meet face to face, and Egypt is still transmitting messages between the two parties. This method is similar to how messages were transmitted in the past between Israel and Arab actors that did not recognize it.
Hamas and Fatah disagree on almost every issue. These are the main causes of contention between them:
- Fatah demands that Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin Al-Qassam, be subordinate to Ramallah.
- There is uncertainty about the administration of Gaza: who will run it? Will it be Hamas-appointed officials, officials Mahmoud Abbas fired, or those who handled the administration of Gaza before Hamas took over the Strip?
- Who will compensate the Fatah and Hamas families who were harmed and family members killed during Hamas’ revolt? This very important matter could enable a rapprochement and prevent a blood feud in Gaza.
- Hamas says there must be a quid pro quo: Ramallah’s entry into Gaza in return for allowing Hamas to operate in the West Bank.
On the one hand, Egypt deserves praise for its initiative, as evidenced by the fact that an Egyptian intelligence delegation is supposed to be coming to Gaza. On the other hand, Egypt is demanding that Hamas cut its ties with Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. Hamas, however, is actually taking new steps to bolster ties with Iran.
Hence, notwithstanding the positive atmosphere before the Ramallah delegation’s arrival in Gaza, on the ground, Hamas and Fatah still have not settled anything between them. They still have not even met face to face.