Hamas strikes deal with Fatah

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

After much negotiation, Fatah and Hamas jointly signed a document setting out a basis for negotiation with Israel. Though premature news stories, issued before the document had been translated, had reported that the document was an implicit recognition of Israel, a Hamas MP, Salah al-Bardaweel, denied that the new agreement implied the group now recognised Israel as one half of a two-state solution; the document only says that they "accept a state [in territory occupied] in 1967" - meaning Palestine - "but we did not say we accept two states". According to Hamas leaders, the document neither implicitly nor explicitly recognises Israel's right to exist.

As of now, the United States has not made any comment on the new document. The statement made by U.S. press secretary Tony Snow gave the strong implication that Hamas will continue to be shunned by the U.S. and others until they renounce their stance on terror.

Another important aspect of these events is that Hamas appears to have broken the silence between them and Fatah, the other major Palestinian party. Hamas, controls the parliament after a recent election victory, forming a government led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, while Fatah controls the presidency with Mahmoud Abbas as president. Hamas and Fatah, after recent strife and violence between the parties, have agreed to a document that may help, even slightly, the relationship between Hamas and the PA.

The agreement between Hamas and Fatah on the yet-to-be-revealed document is still in place and looks fairly stable. There is an agreement of Hamas to let the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, negotiate with Israel, among other things that Hamas and Fatah are in agreement on. At the same time, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has given warning to the Palestinian militants that military force is about to be used as Israel moves forces near Gaza if the captured soldier is not released. This document has been released at a time when Palestinians are worried about the recent movement of Israeli troops in response to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier. Since the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants, both the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been under pressure, with Israel now moving many forces near Gaza. The Israelis have appeared to launch their offensive, with a bridge in Gaza being attacked by planes. It has now been confirmed that Israel to launch a ground offensive against the militants in Gaza.