Fatah and Hamas sign historic unity deal, Abbas to head interim government

Israel/Palestine

Here’s another kickass video of the signing at BBC

CNN

The deal was signed in Doha, Qatar, by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who said last month he plans to step down from his post.

“The Palestinian reconciliation is no longer a Palestinian interest but also an Arab interest,” Abbas said.

“Both parties are serious in moving forward to fold the page of strife between both parties and to strengthen the Palestinian national unity government,” according to Meshaal.

We knew this was coming. Abbas waited till after the Jan 26 Quartet deadline, and then said he was consulting with Arab leaders Feb 4. Palestinians are likely moving forward with their UN bid. Netanyahu is using this as an excuse to say that the unity deal will halt Israeli/Palestinian options, but there were never any options coming from Israel.

His move was welcomed cautiously by a broad range of Palestinians who are fed up with the brutal split at the heart of their national movement. It promised to upend Israeli-Palestinian relations, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Mr. Abbas that he could have peace with Israel or unity with Hamas, but not both.

Ira Glunts points readers to the caption on the New York Times photograph of eight Palestinian men playing cards in Ramallah as news of the deal showed on a television overhead:

News of a Palestinian unity deal played for otherwise occupied viewers in Ramallah, West Bank.

You do not see the words “occupation” or “occupied” in the New York Times a whole lot, especially accompanying an article by its pro-Israel Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner.   Maybe some clever AP caption writer succeeded in sneaking this double entendre by the Times editors.  My guess is that it was written unwittingly and overlooked by those responsible for putting the paper together. (The word occupied does not appear anywhere else in the article. Nor does occupation.)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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33 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    February 7, 2012, 11:54 am

    Serious movement

    “but there were never any options coming from Israel.”

    Annie did you hear Noura Erakat speak on one of the panels? Heard her at the Move over Aipac conference last year. She is so clear, articulate, fact based.

    Heads up
    Hope folks go listen to MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews segment on Syria and Iran last night. It was absurd

    He said that the “Un guys playing games” on Syria As if US administrations have not played very serious games at the UN.
    Secretary of State Clinton calling the situation in Syria a “tragedy” . That warmonger is almost as guilty as those in the Bush administration who lied this nation into Iraq based on a “pack of lies” Clinton is covered with the Iraqi people and American soldiers blood.

    He ends the segment by saying “is there something worse than Iran having nuclear weapons”. Think about that. If there isn’t anything worse. Strike them.”

    Sure hope he does not try to spin this promotion for an attack on Iran after the fact like he did on the Iraq invasion. He has tried to pretend that he asked responsible and indepth and challenging questions before the invasion of Iraq. Sure he will try to do the same thing after an attack on Iran. That he played hardball by asking tough, challenging questions of those who repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran. That he had experts like former Bush administration officials Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on his program to discuss the situatin with Iran. Chris Matthews is being complicit by promoting a strike on Iran. And as Dr. Zbig recently said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and NPR’s Diane Rehm show “the American public is woefully ignorant about US foreign policy” Yep and Chris Matthews doing his part to keep the public “woefully ignorant”

    Sunday Chris Hayes had Amy Goodman on his round table. She added another dimension to that show. They discussed the I/P issue. Anne Marie Slaughter kept repeating that Israel and the US national security are one and the same. Goodman of course differed. Worth the watch. Lots of material there

    .

    • Annie Robbins
      February 7, 2012, 12:43 pm

      i’d love to check out that chris hayes segment kathleen.

      re noura erakat, i attended about half of her breakout session. that was the only problem with the conference, having to pick and choose between competing sessions. i wish i could have attended them all in full. erakat is a fantastic speaker/teacher. i’ve written about her before after hearing her speak at hastings.

      “but there were never any options coming from Israel.”

      the messaging coming out of israel is really dumbed down for the public. broke the existing Oslo Accord !!! oh noes, say it isn’t so.

      Netanyahu says the deal broke the existing Oslo Accord between the Palestinians and Israel.

      “Hamas is a terror organization that strives for the elimination of Israel, and leaning on Iranian support,” Netanyahu told a Likud party meeting. “I have said many times before that the Palestinian Authority must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel,” he said, adding that “Hamas and peace doesn’t go together.”

      • Kathleen
        February 7, 2012, 1:11 pm

        That is often the frustrating part of conferences like that. So many incredible speakers so much information. Did you hear anything that you have not heard before?

        You are going to really like that roundtable at Chris Hayes up. Amy took the conversation up a notch as she always does. I put this up the other day on one of the other threads here at Mondoweiss
        “Chris Hayes actually came out and said that Iran has the right to enrich uranium. He nor his guest today did not mention that Iran has signed the NPt and Israel continues to refuse to sign. That there is no verifiable evidence to validate that Iran is enriching beyond what they are legally able.

        Eli Lake went way out of the truth zone by saying that no other nations are concerned about Israel having nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that go uninspected. That is total bull. All one needs to do is go to the IAEA’s website and read letters from leaders of nations in that neighborhood to the IAEA’s heads that state that Israel’s uninspected/undeclared nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have been and continue to be a threat to peace in the middle east. That they have been a persistent threat. Eli Lake is full of it.

        Anne Marie Slaughter did her very best to make it appear that US and Israel’s national security are one and the same. Worth it to watch the UP segment on Iran and Israel

        Amy Goodman as is almost always the case was fact based and reasonable”

      • yourstruly
        February 7, 2012, 7:20 pm

        israel is a terrorist state that practices ethnic slow motion genocide in gaza, ethnic cleansing in the west bank and is dependent upon unconditional u.s. support.

  2. Memphis
    February 7, 2012, 12:10 pm

    I read about this yesterday, and how Netanyahu says that they must choose between “peace with Israel and Peace with Hamas”

    If I am not mistaken, is this not opposite of one of the arguments Israel used before, that since there was no unity it would be impossible to negotiate for peace. Someone correct me if I am wrong

    • anonymouscomments
      February 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

      You are 100% correct, and it shows transparently how much bibi is not interested in peace. What infuriated me was that MSM would always relay bibi’s latest “rationale” without mentioning his positioning after the split. He just makes up new games depending on the current situation, and the media let’s it go. Now he will be saying he can’t make peace with a gov including Hamas….

      It will be interesting to see if Hamas changes their positioning (I think they have even given up violent resistance as of late, in some statements). Even more interesting will be the PA composition after elections.

      • Memphis
        February 7, 2012, 2:39 pm

        You wouldn’t happen to have a link?

        Also, Uri Anery has a column out that says that Hamas agreed to renounce violence and agree to 67 borders

        Here is the link

        link to avnery-news.co.il

      • anonymouscomments
        February 7, 2012, 4:00 pm

        It was back around the prisoner swap and other reunification talks when I heard talk in this direction.
        link to smh.com.au
        link to nationalinterest.org
        From NYT-
        link to nytimes.com
        “Khaled Hroub of Cambridge University, who studies Islamist movements, said leaving Syria fit with a “paradigm shift” in Hamas — led by Mr. Meshal, over some resistance from hardliners in Gaza — away from an armed campaign and toward less violent popular resistance to Israel.”

        “They have decided for the time being that nonviolence is the strategy,” Dr. Hroub said of the Hamas leaders. “The whole nonviolent strategy has shown its effectiveness: the Arab Spring has proved this with the fall of strong governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

        “With newly emerging governments in the post-Arab-Spring era, many of them Islamist, Hamas wants to be hosted and embraced and have offices in these countries, so they want to establish a distance from the old Hamas. This will make it easier for countries like Egypt and Tunisia to deal with them, without having problems with the Americans and the West.”

        I think the Hamas leadership will be able to explicitly shift to nonviolence in the future, officially. It would be conditional I’d expect, and they would retain the right to resist Israeli aggression with violence/armed resistance. And it would likely be framed as a purely tactical move. This would get mixed reception in the US, but be embraced by the rest of the world I believe.

        However, Israel is going to keep sticking to its guns on the BS “Jewish state” precondition, HARDER than ever. The whole point of this is that it tries to (semantically) disregard the entire issue of refugees and right of return, before even getting to the table.

        I hope the PA/Hamas just says “OK, we accept that you want to be called the Jewish state. We accept Israel exists, and its leadership wants it to be referred to as the Jewish state, therefore we recognize Israel as ‘the Jewish state’. This has no implications on final status negotiations or what may be worked out regarding resolution of the refugee situation, and the right of return. This also should not negatively impact the rights of the many non-Jewish Israeli nationals, which already are gravely discriminated against.” Blah blah….

      • Annie Robbins
        February 7, 2012, 7:38 pm

        I hope the PA/Hamas just says “OK, we accept that you want to be called the Jewish state. We accept Israel exists, and its leadership wants it to be referred to as the Jewish state, therefore we recognize Israel as ‘the Jewish state’.

        they will not say that and of course it has implications on final status negotiations, that’s why israel is demanding it. states are not religious. there’s no way palestinians will recognize their homeland as jewish, nor should they. one doesn’t force those who one has ethnically cleansed from their land to recognize the oppressors rights to do that. essentially that is the request.

      • anonymouscomments
        February 7, 2012, 11:43 pm

        agreed annie, i guess they will not be able to “accept” israel as the “jewish state”, but that is the whole point of israel insisting on it; that they will not meet the cleverly crafted “precondition”, that much of the world has already, sadly, internalized [the media often call it the "jewish state"; not saying i accept the term, it is ridiculous, and absurd that media ever use it].

        almost want to call their bluff…. but i just don’t know what to do sometimes in the face of israeli BS. the reason i was hoping they would “accept” it, was to make israel look bad, and i thought some palestinian figures had already voiced some way to “accept” such. it seems it was someone in the PLO, not fatah as i had imagined….
        link to redactednews.blogspot.com

        Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo said on Wednesday that the Palestinians will be willing to recognize the State of Israel in any way that it desires, if the Americans would only present a map of the future Palestinian state that includes all of the territories captured in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

        In response to U.S. State Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley’s statement on Tuesday night that the Palestinians should respond to the Israeli demand, Abed Rabbo told Haaretz, “We want to receive a map of the State of Israel which Israel wants us to accept.”

        “If the map will be based on the 1967 borders and will not include our land, our houses and East Jerusalem, we will be willing to recognize Israel according to the formulation of the government within the hour,” added Rabbo.

        Abed Rabbo continued, “It is important for us to know where are the borders of Israel and where are the borders of Palestine. Any formulation the Americans present – even asking us to call Israel the ‘Chinese State’ – we will agree to it, as long as we receive the 1967 borders. We have recognized Israel in the past, but Israel has not recognized the Palestinian state.”

      • Kathleen
        February 7, 2012, 3:22 pm

        Netanyahu and other Israeli officials always moving the line. Recognize Israel’s right to exist, then demanded that they have to say that Israel is a Jewish state,,then and then and then …. no preconditions

      • Chaos4700
        February 7, 2012, 8:53 pm

        Well, Israel is unequivocally the party that’s walked away from the negotiating table this time, at any rate. None of that “never passing an opportunity to pass an opportunity” racist crap is going to fly this time around, and there’s no way US media can even spin it — they can lie about it, maybe, but they can’t spin it any way that’ll look anything but bad on Israel to the American people.

  3. Egbert
    February 7, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Well in October 2011, it was:

    “Israel says it will only enter negotiations with the Palestinians if there are no preconditions set”

    link to csmonitor.com

    • anonymouscomments
      February 7, 2012, 4:11 pm

      i know it’s so great… israel wants no preconditions on illegal settlement expansion, peppered with violent fanatics, built on stolen land. forget the illegality of them, or the fact that they obviously destroy any trust and torpedo viable peace talks.

      but they do want many preconditions from the occupied…. that they recognize israel, renounce violence, and call them the “jewish state”. soon israel will state that the right of return must be abandoned, as a precondition.

      israel is absurd. it is like 1984 come to life, in so many ways.

  4. Kathleen
    February 7, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Annie Chris Matthews (have been begging over there)had Dr Zbig on last week to talk about the situation with Iran. Also Richard Engel. Engel was more fair than I expected. Engel even said that Israel has nukes. Matthews quickly said “we know that” and of course did not get into the absurdities and double standards. Dr. Zbig was as brilliant and sensible as usual. Addressing the dangerous and potential cost to the US if Israel does this. And how ultimately an attack on Iran by Israel is extremely dangerous for Israel.

    When Dr. Zbig talked about what could be done through negotiations he failed to bring up that Iran has the right to enrich uranium under the NPT. Going back to listen again because although Chris Matthews did a fair job on this and celebrate that he had Dr. Zbig on I think he opened the segment by referring to Iran’s
    “nuclear weapons program” as if they have a “nuclear weapons program”. Going over to listen again. It is a must listen if folks are interested in how the MSM is opening up a bit on reporting about this issue more accurately.

    Now if only Chris Matthews and the rest would have experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on their programs to discuss Iran and help educate the public instead of after an attack.

  5. Kathleen
    February 7, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Anyone hear anything about the Hamas Fatah agreement on MSNBC ? As Annie has pointed out made it on CNN and BBC. But hearing much about this anywhere else

    • Annie Robbins
      February 7, 2012, 2:34 pm

      kathleen, i have not specifically seen msnbc but there are articles all over. a new batch of them are just coming in with the theme “cede power to Abbas government”, like this

      link to abcnews.go.com

      but anyone who has been following the unity talks knows this is propaganda because it is actually hamas (or meshaal ) who has gotten the better end of the deal ousting fayyad stand down:

      link to independent.co.uk

      By providing for Mahmoud Abbas to take on the premiership of a jointly agreed “technocratic” cabinet, the deal will be seen as a an effort to produce a leadership acceptable to at least some foreign governments, while acceding to Hamas demands that the internationally respected Salam Fayyad stand down as Prime Minister.
      ……
      Mr Fayyad, who has long said he would not be the reason for a breakdown in negotiations between the two factions, yesterday welcomed the agreement as “a response to the aspirations of our people to restore unity to the homeland and its institutions.” But Mr Fayyad, who is not a member of either Fatah or Hamas, did not immediately say whether he would be part of the new cabinet, assuming it takes office.

      if anyone can open the new financial times link can you please blockquote a bunch of it for me, it’s caught behind a firewall.

      Hamas’s choice
      Financial Times – ‎14 minutes ago‎
      Benjamin Netanyahu says that the deal struck this week between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas movement to form an interim government of national unity has shut the door to peace talks. In fact, the door was slammed shut long …

      link to ft.com

  6. Les
    February 7, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Abbas, who couldn’t get elected dog catcher by fellow Palestinians, nevertheless remains America’s great white hope.

  7. HarryLaw
    February 7, 2012, 2:43 pm

    When Natanyahu calls for talks without preconditions, sounds reasonable doesn’t it, unfortunately he wants to continue settlement building,yes continue commiting grave war crimes [ Geneva 49.6] while the talks go on for years. Lets wait to see what the ICC has to say about those settlements and the perpetrators behind them, maybe then it will become apparent to a wider public [the Quartet already know] why talks and settlement building at the same time would be preposterous.

  8. ritzl
    February 7, 2012, 2:49 pm

    Whatever the backstory (conducting and abiding by election results without one party or the other succumbing to external pressures to overturn) or prospects (shining a/yet another light on the GoI hypocrisy, perchance to move some key player’s/UNSC+/BRIC positions), they had to conclude this, successfully. It shows movement, maturity, and good faith, and was/is a prerequisite to show the world “It’s time!” and open new opportunities.

    The downside is that it probably means several/many more years of feckless “two state” oriented “negotiations.” But even then, this puts the Palestinians on a path to getting the world fed up enough with 4-6 decades of Israeli intransigence and position-du-jour flip-flopping (as mentioned above) to eventually accede to and demand whatever reasonable outcome the Palestinian people push for to solve this too-long festering problem, just to get it done.

    The Palestinians seem to have jumped through all the hoops demanded of them.

    I hope this is good news. Probably is.

  9. ahhiyawa
    February 7, 2012, 2:53 pm

    “…“Western governments are dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and it is only a matter of time before they will meet with Hamas as well…”

    The regional and geo-political reality is shifting underneath Israels feet. Its Israel that will ultimately have to decide between the survival of a Jewish home in Palestine or the zealotry of Zionism. Israelis can’t and won’t have both.

  10. stevieb
    February 7, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Hamas is the democratically elected leaders of the Palestinians. They are also the leaders of the resistance against Israeli occupation, oppression and land and resource theft. I don’t particularly like Fatah, but I do like anything that promotes Palestinian unity, which is an absolute neccesity..

    • Citizen
      February 7, 2012, 5:16 pm

      Any way you look at it, it’s not a sign that the usual Israeli agenda of divide and conquer among the arab gentiles in the ME is kicking ass.

  11. yourstruly
    February 7, 2012, 8:12 pm

    here’s a scenario that would not only end the mideast conflict but would guarantee victory for president obama come next november

    the administration recognizes this new palestinian unity government with the quid pro quo being that the unity government mediates with the egyptian military potentates for an end to its prosecution of american so-called democracy promoters.

    this infuriates the netanyahu government and its israel firster acolytes in the u.s. of a.

    president obama perseveres by insisting that this is in the interest of america and the public* buys in, thereby silencing israel firsters because deep inside they realize that full and open disclosure of the consequences of their israel-firstness could turn the public against them.

    the administration’s recognition of hamas, the better to free said americans in egypt, thus representing the initial break in the u.s.-israel special relationship.

    meanwhile, in palestine, a people united can never be defeated

    so put it all together and what do we have?

    the palestinians in their 3rd & final intifada + goodby & good riddance to the special relationship = justice for palestine + no war on iran.

    *as in 1991 when for several months president george bush the elder withheld a ten billion dollar loan guarantee from the settler entity for having done what? that’s right, expanding those damn west bank settlements.

  12. Les
    February 7, 2012, 8:48 pm

    At the very beginning of today’s Flashpoints program on Pacifica’s KPFK, Dennis Bernstein has a cell phone interview with Barbara Lubin of Middle Eastern Childrens’ Alliance who is reporting from Gaza City that Hamas is evicting fishing village people from their homes in Gaza City where they have lived since the 1940′s. How this relates to the Hamas pact with Abbas is not clear.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 8, 2012, 8:12 am

      Hamas is evicting fishing village people from their homes in Gaza City where they have lived since the 1940′s.

      i wonder why?

      • LeaNder
        February 8, 2012, 8:34 am

        Interesting, but Les, why do you call fishers from Gaza City “village people”?

        Annie, how about contacting Barbara Lubin and find out what this is about?

  13. FreddyV
    February 8, 2012, 5:34 am

    Interestingly, this isn’t getting much coverage in the UK. The BBC have buried it and SKY haven’t even reported on it (as far as I can see, and if I can’t find it, what hope is there for people to stumble upon it).

    It seems Fatah and Hamas are walking away from negotiations with Israel and the US and setting up for the UN statehood bid. I think it’s the sensible option. We know it won’t happen because of US veto, but that veto is going to isolate the US hugely and far more if Hamas recognise Israel’s right to exist on 78% of historic Palestine, refuse to bear arms and jump through all the hoops that have been put before them, but stand firm on the 1967 borders and demand acknowledgement of refugee rights.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if that position made the US veto so untenable, abstaining would be their only option.

    Here’s to hoping anyway…..

    • Bumblebye
      February 8, 2012, 7:12 am

      TV news is just a repeating picture show, Freddy.
      There was considerable coverage on radio, specifically bbcR4 and bbcR5.
      I’ve pretty much given up on the box for anything useful in scheduled news (or entertainment – I’m at a max viewing of 2hrs a week now).

  14. FreddyV
    February 8, 2012, 8:27 am

    Hi Bumblebye,

    I agree. I don’t do TV news and as far as I/P reporting goes, this is my fav place, but it’s interesting that it even seems to be low priority on the BBC website. I know Syria is taking a lot of column pixels (inches), but I had to scroll quite a way down the page.

    I can understand SKY not wanting to report about Bibi and the US being given the finger, but I thought the BBC would have covered it more prominently.

    I have a lot to learn about how the journalistic wheels turn on this subject……….

  15. Les
    February 8, 2012, 1:05 pm

    The Parliamentary Bloc of Hamas (in Gaza) says the pact with Abbas is illegal.

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