by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly

GAZA, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — Local analysts and observers in Palestine agreed that the current complicated political challenges in the Middle East might oblige the Palestinian rivals to go for unity and end more than 13 years of feuds and internal division.

Two days ago, secretary generals of several Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Movement, held an online meeting, the first in three years, to achieve reconciliation and end the internal division.

Abbas chaired the joint online meeting. Secretary generals of 14 Palestinian factions addressed at the meeting, and called for unity to face the serious challenges that threaten the Palestinian cause.

The analysts agreed that these political challenges, mainly the United States’ Mideast peace plan, Israeli plan of annexing parts of the West Bank, and the recent Israeli normalization agreements with Arab states, had obliged the Palestinian rival groups to convene and seek unity.

However, the analysts ruled out that the one-day meeting’s outputs would achieve a significant breakthrough in ending more than 13 years of internal division, mainly between Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah which rules the West Bank.

“The Palestinian cause faces various conspiracies and dangers, the most prominent of which is the so-called (American) Deal of the Century, the Israeli annexation plans, and the deviant normalization projects,” Abbas told the participants at the opening of the online meeting.

The factions’ leaders welcomed Abbas’ call to form a unified national leadership and launch a comprehensive national dialogue to end the internal division. They all agreed that the Palestinians need unity more than ever.

The calls for unity are good, but getting into the details of ending internal division and achieving unity will be difficult and complicated, mainly when the factions discuss the question of what kind of resistance the Palestinians need armed or popular resistance against Israel, according to the analysts.

One of the meeting’s outputs was forming a committee that comprises specialists who provide a strategic vision on achieving unity and partnership within Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during a period that doesn’t exceed five weeks.

Hani al-Masri, director of the Ramallah-based Masarat Center for Researches and Studies, told Xinhua that forming a committee that presents its outputs within five weeks “is a waste of time.”

Al-Masri explained that there is an urgent need to reach an agreement on the political agenda that meets the in-common goals of the Palestinian people and the factions to confront the U.S. plan, the Israeli annexation plan, ending the occupation, and establishing the Palestinian state.

He also said that the Palestinian rivals and the other factions should immediately agree on forming a new unity government that unifies the Palestinian establishments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and prepares for holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

Since 2007, Hamas and Fatah had reached a series of reconciliation agreements and understandings in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt. However, all mediations to end their deep political feuds and visions had failed due to disagreement on security, power, and financial issues.

Talal Oukal, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that “one of the priorities of the rapprochement between the Palestinian rivals is the launching of in-depth dialogues aimed at reviewing the experience regarding the stalled reconciliation agreements.”

“I believe that the leaders of the factions should overcome the major files of disagreements that have obstructed the implementation of reconciliation, including the dispute over shares between the factions and the difference in their political programs,” Oukal said.

A majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that ending the division and achieving unity will be the best way to face the current crucial political challenges.

Muhanad Abdulhamid, a Ramallah-based political analyst, told Xinhua that the unprecedented online meeting of the Palestinian faction leaders might fail if the leaders don’t speed up implementing a mechanism they agree upon to end the internal division immediately.

“The factions should first agree on ending the internal division, achieve unity, agree on the shape of resisting the Israeli occupation, form a unity government and prepare for holding general elections in the Palestinian territories,” said Abdulhamid.

The last Palestinians joined presidential elections was held in 2005. They elected Mahmoud Abbas as president, where the Hamas movement won the last parliamentary elections held in the Palestinian territories in 2006. Enditem

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