- It was the first meeting between the two parties since January 2018.
- The relationship between the two movements has witnessed a near-break since 2007, after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.
- For many Israelis, the issue of annexation does not play a big role.
In a new development on the Palestinian scene, and as Israel prepares to annex parts of the West Bank, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement, Gabriel Rajoub, met with the deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, Saleh Al-Aarawi, via video conference.
For Rajoub, in Ramallah, and Aarawi, based in Beirut, it was the first meeting between the two parties since January 2018. “We are announcing today an agreement to topple the ‘Deal of the Century,'” Rajoub said. “There will be popular resistance in which everyone participates.”
“We will put in place all necessary measures to ensure national unity” in efforts against annexation,” Rajoub continued. “Today, we want to speak in a single voice.”
For his part, Saleh Al-Aarawi stressed the “unity” between the two movements, expressing his appreciation for “the solid position of President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] in rejecting the concession to the occupation. “We must stand together, again and again, loyally and truthfully, amidst the ranks of our people, to resist and thwart this project,” Arouri said.
“All the controversial issues on which we differ, we will set those aside,” Aarawi said. “We and Fatah and all the Palestinian factions are facing an existential threat, and we must work together.”
The relationship between the two movements has witnessed a near-break since 2007, after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Bloody battles between the two parties ended with the expulsion of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority forces from the Strip. All efforts to reconcile the two sides failed.
The Palestinians categorically rejected the US plan announced in late January, and it met opposition from a number of European Union, United Nations, and Arab League states as well. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing his consultations with US officials and security leaders about the annexation, which he described as a “historic opportunity” given by his ally, US President Donald Trump.
As per the agreement by which the coalition government was formed in Israel, the first of July was set a date from which the mechanism for implementing the plan can be announced. However, nothing in this regard has yet been issued.
Agitation Among Palestinians, Indifference in Israel
For many Israelis, the issue of annexation does not play a big role. They are more concerned about the Coronavirus epidemic and the tense economic situation because of it, as a survey of the “Geneva Initiative” to end the Middle East conflict revealed.
Only a narrow segment of the respondents want to make the Israeli government’s annexation of the Jordan Valley a top priority. Other polls partly revealed contradictory results. “There is a small majority of Israeli Jews who support a kind of annexation, but there is no consensus on how this will work,” says Ofer Salzburg, a political analyst.
In response to the annexation plans, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah abandoned a number of agreements with Israel, including joint coordination on security and civil issues. In recent weeks, it has been reported in government circles that the dissolution of the Palestinian self-government is on the cards after its founding in the midst of the Oslo peace process in 1994.