Will the end of the freeze reconcile Hamas and Fatah?

Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, said today that the best response to the end of Israel’s 10-month "settlement freeze" would be a reconciliation with rival Palestinian faction Hamas. DPA reports: Meshaal argued that internal reconciliation would make the Palestinians more powerful in negotiations, calling it a national necessity and the best way to ...

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, said today that the best response to the end of Israel's 10-month "settlement freeze" would be a reconciliation with rival Palestinian faction Hamas.

DPA reports:

Meshaal argued that internal reconciliation would make the Palestinians more powerful in negotiations, calling it a national necessity and the best way to react to the 'Zionist intransigence.'

Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, said today that the best response to the end of Israel’s 10-month "settlement freeze" would be a reconciliation with rival Palestinian faction Hamas.

DPA reports:

Meshaal argued that internal reconciliation would make the Palestinians more powerful in negotiations, calling it a national necessity and the best way to react to the ‘Zionist intransigence.’

Meshaal does have a point. A leadership that represents only half of the Palestinian people, and basically acts as though Gaza doesn’t exist, is pretty limited when it comes to negotiating the "final status" issues with Israel. At the same time, the Israelis probably wouldn’t be willing to enter negotiations with a Palestinian coalition that includes Hamas. (U.S. envoy to the region George Mitchell has said as much.) It certainly doesn’t help that Meshaal also said today that Hamas will continue to "kill illegal settlers on [Palestinian] land."

We may soon find out how a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation will affect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Good news for the Palestinians may be on the horizon. A Hamas spokesperson told a Kuwaiti newspaper today, "We will all celebrate Palestinian national reconciliation in Egypt soon."

Of course, we’ve heard that one before. In 2008 Hamas and Fatah signed a Yemeni-sponsored deal Sanaa saying they would begin the reconciliation talks soon. They changed their minds a few days later. In September 2009 the two groups were again close to reaching an agreement, but nothing came of that. In January of this year, Meshaal told reporters in Riyadh, "We made great strides toward achieving reconciliation," and, "We are in the final stages now."

Will this time be different? It’s hard to tell and these agreements have often been called off at the last minute. But if Fatah and Hamas do reach an agreement, it will undoubtedly change the course of the negotiations that President Obama has been supporting so vocally. The Palestinian negotiators will become more legitimate and the Israelis more resistant.

Twitter: @maxstrasser

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.