Meanwhile, here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.
There is little hope that reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah will end a decade of bitter internecine feuding which has seen a parallel entrenchment of territorial divisions between them in Gaza and the West Bank.
Gazan and West Bank Arab populations will continue to be the victims of this ongoing power play as both groups remain bitterly opposed to recognising Israel as the Jewish National Home.
Elections have not been held since January 2006 when Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament trouncing the governing Fatah party.
Since then, conflict between Hamas and Fatah has seen any prospect of the peaceful creation of a second Arab State – in addition to Jordan – in the territory encompassed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine – consigned to the diplomatic scrapheap.
Now it seems that Hamas and Fatah are seeking yet again to come to some form of reconciliation – which will only be about preserving their own organisations and retaining their current powers and privileges and have nothing to do with giving their long-suffering populations any say in their own future.
Clearly whatever game of musical chairs they intend to play – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made Israel’s position very clear – reportedly stating that as part of any reconciliation Hamas must:
1. recognise Israel
2. dismantle Hamas’s military wing and
3. Break off ties with Iran.Any hope of these conditions being met is a pipe dream. Netanyahu also declared:
“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, the Jewish state. We cannot accept fake reconciliation on the Palestinian side that comes at the expense of our existence.”Again this is simply not going to happen.
Whatever window dressing occurs between Hamas and Fatah will therefore be of no consequence in resolving the Jewish-Arab conflict or in influencing President Trump to believe that such steps are capable of contributing to the President successfully brokering an end to that 100 years old conflict.
The absence of elections for eleven years has created a void that has had disastrous consequences for the Gazan and West Bank Arab populations – impacting the lives of every single Gazan and West Bank Arab.
The likelihood of free and fair elections continues to be a distant dream.
PLO leader Yasser Arafat – perhaps in an unguarded moment – made the following promise back in May 1983 when interviewed in Middle East Review:
“When the occupied territories are liberated, we will move towards a referendum that will set up constitutionally a framework for special relations between Jordan and liberated Palestine.”That referendum has failed to materialise despite the fact that since 2007:
1. Hamas has controlled 100% of Gaza and its entire population
2. The PLO – of which Fatah is the major member – has controlled 40% of the West Bank within which 95% of the total West Bank Arab population currently reside.Arafat’s referendum proposal should be implemented – if elections are once again denied.
Holding this referendum would indicate a willingness by both Hamas and Fatah to work towards a peaceful resolution of the Jewish-Arab conflict - working arm in arm with Jordan – rather than continuing their belligerent confrontation with Israel – both militarily and diplomatically – that has marked the last 10 years.
Such a referendum would send a clear signal to President Trump that there could indeed be some possible light at the end of the Gazan terrorist-tunnels – that a framework involving Jordan represents the best possible way forward out of the current impasse.
Seeing the referendum realised remains the challenge for Trump to pursue.