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MICHAEL BELL: PALESTINIAN 'UNITY' BREAKTHROUGH ISN'T THE REAL DEAL

By Michael Bell, originally published in The Globe and Mail May 05, 2011

 

 

 

 

The reconciliation deal between the secular forces backing Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas movement appears to suggest that Palestinian unity has been achieved at the price of Mr. Abbas’s well-established moderation and his peace efforts with Israel.

It also appears to suggest that Palestinian security co-operation with Israel may end and that, as Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Western nations, the possible end of their considerable assistance to Palestine. It could jeopardize efforts to ensure broad recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations General Assembly this fall.

Hence, the announcement of the parties’ intention to form a unity government seems more than noteworthy. Why such a dramatic decision now, and to what end?

Both sides need the legitimacy generated by the moral imperative behind the Arab Spring, particularly after its success in Egypt. The message is, it’s no longer sufficient to let events take their course - one must seize the initiative and take risks to restore dignity. Palestinian leaders decided they could no longer sustain the status quo and remain relevant in the eyes of those they governed.

Under this rubric lie many factors. Palestinian moderates are convinced Israel doesn’t want any peace deal, and they’ve no confidence the Americans will act assertively to bring negotiators into a meaningful process. Mr. Abbas doesn’t want to be seen as a patsy for the status quo; he must at least be seen to satisfy the street’s yearning for unity.

To read more, click here:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/palestinian-unity-breakthrough-isnt-the-real-deal/article2010154/

Michael Bell, the Paul Martin (Sr.) Senior Scholar on International Diplomacy at the University of Windsor, is a former Canadian ambassador to Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.


 
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