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Palestine’s Hamas, Fatah join hands against Israeli annexation plan

Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, in Ramallah, during a video conference with Hamas leader Saleh Arouri discussing Israel’s annexation plan, on Thursday. (AFP)
Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, in Ramallah, during a video conference with Hamas leader Saleh Arouri discussing Israel’s annexation plan, on Thursday. (AFP)
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03 Jul 2020 02:07:35 GMT9
03 Jul 2020 02:07:35 GMT9

Hazem Balousha

GAZA CITY: The deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, Saleh Al-Arouri, appeared from Beirut with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, from Ramallah, in a joint screened press conference to announce their unified stance vis-a-vis the Israeli annexation plan.

The two political rivals spoke of their united efforts to counter the US-backed Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley in what analysts considered a temporary political flirtation.

“Today, we will go out with one voice and under one flag to work on building a strategic vision … in order to face the challenges,” Rajoub said.

“We will turn a new page and present a model for our people, families and martyrs,” he added.

Rajoub explained that measures would be agreed upon to hold general elections and respect their results.

For his part, Al-Arouri spoke in the same diplomatic manner toward his political opponent.

“We must overcome our differences … in the interest of a strategic and fundamental agreement with regards to the existential issue of occupation,” Al-Arouri said.

He added that although the two organizations were often at odds, they did not differ “in confronting the occupation and its plans.”

The Palestinian News Agency published a report on a meeting held by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Rajoub on Wednesday in Ramallah to show support for Rajoub’s efforts to approach Hamas.

The Palestinian public expressed differing views on the rapprochement between the two rivals, with some praising the move and others showing pessimism. 

“We have lived through the political dispute since its inception. There have been many attempts at reconciliation. Why should it work now?” asked Mahmoud Aidiya, 44.  

“This is a positive step, but I am not optimistic at all,” he added.

The West Bank faces a new wave of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, which is also impacting the general mood. The Palestinian government has imposed a full five-day lockdown beginning on Friday. On Thursday, it announced that it would pay only 50 percent of the salaries for public employees.

The Gaza Strip has suffered years of economic recession, the gravity of which has increased with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, while threats from Palestinian factions to escalate violence against Israel have multiplied since the annexation plan was officially announced.

Ghadeer Akram, 28, said, “I do not think that reconciliation will improve current conditions in the Gaza Strip. We have been living in this situation for many years.”

“Fatah and Hamas have no intention of any reconciliation. We do not trust them. We must deal with reality as it is,” she added.

The two groups have failed to achieve reconciliation during the 13 years since political separation, even after signing more than one agreement to this end, the last of which was in Cairo, in 2017.

Professor of political science at Al-Azhar University, Mukhaimar Abu Sa’da, believes that the press conference is more an initiative on the part of Rajoub and Al-Arouri than a move that enjoys full support from all the leaders of Fatah and Hamas.

“This is a positive, but individual initiative. There have been many attempts at reconciliation, even more serious ones, such as the recent Cairo agreement. But on the ground, nothing really changed,” he told Arab News.

“The priorities of the Palestinians today are not reconciliation, but rather the COVID-19 crisis in the West Bank and improving the economy in Gaza,” he added.

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