One Palestine?

One Palestine?
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will visit the Gaza region to begin talks of reconciliation with the Hamas. The region has been the center of a civil war for close to..

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will visit the Gaza region to begin talks of reconciliation with the Hamas.

The region has been the center of a civil war for close to a decade.

Background

The Gaza Strip, which is home to nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, is a narrow strip of land between Israel and Egypt. It is a self-governing Palestinian territory and it is under Israeli occupation. In 1948, the Strip came under Egypt’s control after the Arab-Israeli war. It was occupied by Israel in 1967 when the country engaged in military conflict once again with Arab nations.

In 2005, Israel pulled out its troops from Gaza. Thousands of Jews who were also in the region were also evacuated. Despite these developments, Israel has continued to exercise control over the region. It is in-charge of the region’s territorial waters and airspace as well.

In 2007, Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization, engaged in warfare with Fatah forces. Fatah is a Palestinian nationalist political party. After ousting the Fatahs, the Hamas essentially took over the governance in Gaza.  This resulted in the Gaza Strip getting split from the West Bank in terms of its administration.

The majority of residents in the Gaza Strip are refugees. The region is often marred by violence. For over a decade, Israel has blocked the entry and exit from Gaza. This existed even before 2007 but measures for the blockade were increased. This has resulted in shortage of goods entering the region for the residents. The economy has been significantly hit as Israel has allowed only basic humanitarian needs to enter the area.

Analysis

On September 17, 2017, Hamas announced that the group had agreed to dissolve the rival de facto administration in Gaza. It has said that it was ready for the unification of the region and would contest for elections. It has also revealed that it is willing to form one government moving into the future.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is now planning a visit to the Gaza region to begin talks of reconciliation. He will be meeting with senior officials who are part of the Hamas. Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said, “We await the first steps on the ground. We want to see Mr Hamdallah received by Hamas, the door to all the ministries open. That really could happen in the next 24 hours."

One of the reasons Hamas have agreed to a reconciliation is due to pressure put by the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. He had reduced the power supply to the region and reduced salaries of some employees living in Gaza. This meant that the residents of the region had to survive on just three to four hours of electricity per day. There were also restrictions placed on the supply of water and medical supplies.

It has been reported that Abbas spoke to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh about the latest development. Hamas has urged the Palestinian government to remove sanctions placed on the region. Additionally, the head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has hailed this step. According to a statement that has been released by his office, Gheit “welcomes the important positive developments" regarding "ending the division".

Assessment

Our assessment is that this is a significant step towards ending one of the most devastating civil wars in the world. However, it remains to be seen if a truce can be successfully brokered between the two groups. The lives of close to two million people living in the region depends on this. We believe that this change has primarily occurred due to the heavy dependence of Hamas on Egypt. Hamas had made several overtures to Egypt including a document that it published in May that emitted the mention to Muslim Brotherhood, which the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi abhors. 

Read more:

Gaza – a humanitarian crisis

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