Could This Be the Beginning of Important Change on the Palestinian Side? Abbas Accepts Hamas Outreach Towards Fatah-Hamas Unification
There is some interesting news that may (or may not) be foreshadowing a major restructuring of the Palestinian government. Following simultaneous demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank on Tuesday, Haaretz reported that Mahmoud Abbas made a speech to his party today which included an important new announcement.
Abbas has accepted an invitation from Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s prime minister, to go to Gaza to discuss ending the chasm between the two Palestinian political factions that has remained wide open since Hamas took over control of Gaza by force in June, 2007. Abbas said:
I declare that I am ready to go to Gaza tomorrow so as to end the split and form a new government”
He went on to call for elections and re-emphasized the fact that he will not stand for re-election:
Abbas’ plan for unity includes a call for parliamentary and presidential elections within six months. In his speech, Abbas told his Fatah allies that he would not run for re-election in that vote.
This shift towards reconciliation seems to be a direct result of the public demonstrations and is another indication of the sea-change being created by the force of the Arab democratic movements. Although they have a long way to go, a reunified Palestinian government could potentially provide the “partner” (at least, in name) for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that many use as a reason that an agreement is impossible.
Of course, it could, on the other hand, provide the Palestinians with a stronger presence should they decide to continue with their plan to make a unilateral declaration of the state of Palestine by September, 2011.
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