(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)

For Palestine, divided on both geographical and political levels, it was a possible hope when Ismail Haniyeh, the former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, announced the division was over.

Palestine: the control of the Gaza Strip

Through the mediation of Egypt, in April 2014 Azzam al-Ahmad, head of Fatah, and Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, Vice President of the Political Bureau of Hamas, reached an agreement to form a new interim government within five weeks, composed of independent experts and led by the current President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement included also the provision of new elections on a national basis, six months after the vote of confidence from the Palestinian parliament.

The agreement was to allow the Palestinian Authority to take control of the Gaza Strip, through a number of measures to rebuild the area after the 50-day war against Israel and to absorb 40,000 employees of the Hamas government.

Azzam al-Ahmad stated that all civil servants would be paid by the government of national unity because it would be “the government of all the Palestinians”.

Palestine: the advance of Hamas

After one year, the Palestinian political forces are struggling to find a solution to the political rift that has been affecting their own people for years. They continue to accuse themselves, thus leaving reconciliation in an endless vicious circle. On the other hand, Abbas does not seem impatient to implement it for fear that the collaboration with Hamas will lead to sanctions by Israel and the international community, but also that the Islamist movement would get rid of him.

In this context, the victory in the recent elections of the university student list affiliated with Hamas at the University of Bir Zeit, the second largest Palestinian university in West Bank, appears particularly significant, since the list obtained 26 seats against 19 of those affiliated with Fatah. Palestinian political observers perceive this result as an important indicator of public opinion: in this stage, people would agree to hold parliamentary or presidential elections because it will represent another victory for Hamas. As long as Fatah does not get rid of the old guard, more and more Palestinians will join Hamas.

Palestine: ISIS makes its way

For the international community, the only mechanism by which Gaza can be rebuilt and achieve economic development is the return under the control of the Palestinian Authority. In the meantime, on June 4th, the Israeli army bombed two military training camps of Hamas, accused by the government to be responsible for attacks on the Israeli territory. Since earlier this year, the Rafah crossing has been open only for 5 days and the demolition of smuggling tunnels, which took place with the Operation Protective Edge conducted by Israeli forces in 2014, has caused Hamas a loss of $460 million. This has worsened the political situation and security in the Gaza Strip where new Palestinian groups close to the jihadists of the ISIS have in fact been established. According to some observers, ISIS is consolidating the power struggle between Hamas and various Salafist organizations such as the Brigade Sheikh Omar Hadid.

In light of the current situation in the Gaza Strip, the relationship between Hamas and Fatah could change, but at this time, the agreement is likely to remain just “ink on paper”.

ANDREEA IORDACHE

Master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies (University of Messina)