Does Fatah like Israel?

The Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, poses the question if relations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel have ever been so good?

The report notes how the Israeli army has a liaison team, evidently trusted by the PA, run by the Fatah group of President Abbas. Violence and killings in the West Bank, where Fatah rules, are significantly down from 2008. Fatah is beginning to act against is Hamas opponents.

Significantly, on Wednesday 2nd September, the joint Israeli-Palestinian economic committee convened for the first time in years. Echoing the theme of Ha’aretz: –

We hope that away from politics, we will be able to do something on the ground to improve the economic realities of Palestine, Palestinian Economy Minister Bassem Khoury said with Israeli regional development minister and Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom at his side.

All very positive and encouraging. It must be admitted that there is another side to this story. I cannot write for Palestinians. But talk to many Israelis and they are sceptical of peace moves. “Peace? Don’t make me laugh” is a common theme.

Let me clarify. It is not that they oppose peace. Even during the Intifada, I would argue that many Israelis remained pragmatic. Barak, Netanyahu and Olmert met with Arafat and Olmert on countless occasions. What has changed is that since Israel withdrew from Gaza, a very painfull process for Israeli society, 3 things have not happened.

First, Hamas has refused to move even one family from the refugee camps into former Israeli towns. The poverty continues in parallel to the war cries against thier neighbour.  Second, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others have continued to bomb Israeli civilian population centres rather than seek to build friendships. Even for the most patient of Israelis seeking compromise, that is not a sign of a Palestinian leadership looking for peace.

As for Fatah, which Israel is talking to, Abbas is certainly not all-powerful. Will his successor honour any agreements Israel makes with him? And what happens if Hamas captures power from Fatah, as it did in Gaza?

The stats reveal that the random shootings against Israeli civilians continue. As Sky TV Foreign Editor, Tim Marshall, recently observed, Hamas has been particularly ruthless in eliminating political opponents.

Last night, I was approached by an intermediary acting on behalf of an Israeli sculptor. They want to link up with Palestinian counterparts. I have come  across many such ideas in the past decade.

What I do not find is a similar number of approaches coming from the other direction. When that happens, Bassem Khoury’s words will have a stronger meaning all together.

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One Comment on “Does Fatah like Israel?”

  1. Nobody Says:

    Second, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others have continued to bomb Israeli civilian population centres rather than seek to build friendships. Even for the most patient of Israelis seeking compromise, that is not a sign of a Palestinian leadership looking for peace.

    This one has really made me laugh 😀 😀 This is the Middle East, man. This is not a hippie commune. It’s not about peace, love or friendship. Even if we sign some piece of paper and the violent stage of the conflict is over, the conflict will continue in other ways. Demographically, through Israeli Arab minority and other ways. The only thing we can reasonably discuss here is if the other side thinks that military confrontation outstayed its usefulness. It probably does not, but whatever it is, the alternative is not friendship but only giving the conflict a less violent and more manageable shape. This is the reality. Deal with it.


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