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February 21, 2018

Where’s the Coverage? Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation is Floundering

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas


Recent reconciliation attempts between Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah movement that dominates the West Bank-ruling Palestinian Authority (PA), are floundering. And major U.S. news outlets are missing the story.

Hamas and Fatah are bitter rivals, having fought a brief and bloody war in June 2007, after the latter lost elections in 2006. At the war’s conclusion, Hamas controlled the Gaza Strip. The years since have witnessed several attempts at reconciliation between the rival factions, including several short-lived attempts at “unity government.?

In September 2017, Hamas announced that it would dissolve the administration that runs the Gaza Strip and would enter into talks with Fatah. As CAMERA noted in a Times of Israel Op-Ed (“Meet the New Hamas, Same as the Old Hamas,? April 5, 2017), Hamas was under increasing financial pressure in the months leading up to their September 2017 announcement.

On Oct. 12, 2017, following talks brokered by Egypt, Hamas and Fatah announced a unity deal for control over the Gaza Strip. However, Hamas has since refused to accede to Fatah’s prerequisites for the deal’s implementation and, in the months since, it has become increasingly clear that reconciliation is—yet again—unlikely to occur.

Several self-imposed deadlines for reconciliation have come and gone—often without mention by the press. And some Fatah officials have blamed Iran, a chief Hamas sponsor, for obstructing negotiations (“Fatah Official: Iran is Hindering Palestinian Reconciliation,? CAMERA, Dec. 4, 2017).

A Feb. 16, 2018 Times of Israel report detailed claims by a former PA minister, Frieh Abu Medien, that authority president and Fatah head, Mahmoud Abbas, refused to “lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year…until Hamas completely cedes control over the coastal enclave, including over its weapons…? Writing in Rai al-Youm, a London-based online newspaper, Abu Medien, who once served as the PA’s minister of justice for the Gaza Strip, claimed that Abbas wanted “to control everything, including money and weapons.?

Hamas operatives seized on Medien’s account, claiming that it was proof of the PA’s insincerity at reconciling.

Most Western news outlets have failed to detail and track the progress—or the lack thereof—of the latest reconciliation attempt. The Washington Post, for example, has yet to provide a full-length follow-up report to their Oct. 12, 2017 article, “U.S., Israel balk at Palestinian Reconciliation, Insisting Hamas Must Disarm.? That dispatch uncritically quoted Palestinian officials’ claims that the U.S. and Israel were the chief obstacles to a unity deal. The Post said: “Palestinians have long believed that it is in Israel’s interest to keep the two factions divided, weakening the Palestinians nationally and keeping the status quo in place.? U.S. demands that Hamas disarm were presented as “overreacting.?

Yet, it has become increasingly clear that Palestinian power rivalries have prevented reconciliation. And it has become equally clear that the media is uninterested in reporting on Palestinian political developments unless Israel can somehow be blamed.

Posted by SD at February 21, 2018 09:55 AM

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