5 Myths of Palestinian Unity

Hamas and Fatah finally reconciled with a national unity deal bringing Hamas into the government. The deal they inked calls for an interim government of technocrats until presidential and legislative elections take place within a year.

The tea leaves were there to be read. A month ago, Khaled Abu Toameh noted that Mahmoud Abbas’s unity efforts “designed to send a message to the Americans and Europeans that unless they step up pressure on Israel he will have to join forces with Hamas.”

Abbas also said he was willing to give up US aid for Palestinian unity. Partnering up with Hamas didn’t happen out of nowhere, and the PA chairman clearly knows the risks he’s taking.

Here are a five media myths to beware.

Myth: Hamas is pragmatic about peace.

Fact: Hamas still wants to destroy Israel. It has always defied calls to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and honor past negotiating agreements. The Hamas charter remains unchanged.

Myth: Ruling Gaza has moderated Hamas.

Fact: Quite the opposite. Hamas is emboldened, imposing Islamic law,  smuggling sophisticated weapons, and watching the Muslim Brotherhood’s gains in Egypt. No goodwill gestures for Gilad Shalit from a new and improved PA are on the horizon. Need I go on?

Myth: Palestinian unity paves the way for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Fact: It remains to be seen how durable this unity will really be. The two sides will bury their squabbles till September, but all bets are off afterwards. Remember, Hamas and Fatah already reconciled in 2007, only to see Hamas take over Gaza as Fatah supporters like Mohammed Sweirki ?were literally thrown off the rooftops. And both sides have other calculations. Fatah lost its biggest patron, Hosni Mubarak, while Hamas faces losing Bashar Assad. Now, they need each other, for better or for worse.

Myth: Abbas is displaying real statesmanship.

Fact: Salam Fayyad’s state-building efforts were the PA’s main source of credibility in the West. The closer we get to September, the more the PA needs to tout Fayyad’s program. Instead, Abbas is throwing Fayyadism under the bus. That’s stupidity, not statesmanship.

Myth: Israel must prove its willingness to make peace by negotiating with a unified Palestinian government.

Fact: What’s to negotiate when the other side wants to destroy you?