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Jun 02, 2011 at 12:58 AM

The Canada Palestine Support Network (Canpalnet) is offering the following information "bundle" for your consideration on the important topic of the recent accord reached between the Hamas and Fatah political organizations in Palestine and the international response generated by this development.

I.  The Accord Itself
II.  Commentaries and analysis of the accord.
III.  The Context - The democratic revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere and the changes in Egyptian foreign policy
IV.  Reaction in Israel and the U.S.

I.  Firstly, here is a link to a copy of the agreement itself, as presented by the Palestine Monitor website: II.  Below are some commentaries on the accord which try to analyze it's significance for developments in the struggle.
  • How did it come about that the two rival organizations were able to reach a cooperation pact at this time?
  • What effect will it have on the struggle for Palestinian rights and what will be the response from Israel and the US?
The following interview with professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University sheds some fascinating light on these issues.  He makes it clear that the development of the "Arab Spring", the series of uprisings and victories in the struggle for democracy in the Arab world, was an essential precondition for this accord to be developed and particularly for Egypt to play the positive role it did in helping to broker the accord. He also analyzes Hamas' deteriorating relationship with the besieged Syrian government because of their refusal to roundly condemn the democratic movements for change in that country as well as the increasing unpopularity of Hamas in Gaza and of Fatah in the West Bank because of widely-held perceptions amongst Palestinians living there that both organizations were serving their own organizational agendas and not delivering on any real advances for Palestinian unity or prospects for a just and peaceful settlement. He is guardedly optimistic about the accord and sees it as a positive development which will be strongly resisted by Israel and the US.  

Respected commentator Ali Abunimah, editor of the online "Electronic Intifada", is more skeptical about the accord, seeing it as a major concession by Hamas to participate in a failed "peace process" with the corrupt and collaborationist Fatah without seeking or obtaining any real concessions from Fatah in changing its approach to the conflict.  He is skeptical of the leadership capacities of either organization and points to the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as being the key to moving the struggle forward.  Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with Ali Abunimah on these points, the following article is a well-written and carefully argued analysis and definitely worth reading:

The following article by Tony Karon on the Time Magazine website is thoughtfully written and offers a look at some of the immediate actions and implications of the specific agreements reached in the accord immediate implications of the accord might be and how various players in the conflict can be expected to respond:  

III.  What effect has the  "Arab Spring", the rising tide of democratic revolutions in the Arab world, and particularly, in Egypt, had upon the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict?

The well-respected journalist and activist Jonathon Cook has written specifically about the changing relationship between Egypt and Israel,  which bears directly on the current context of the accord's development in this interesting piece below.  In it he analyzes the pressure faced by the new Egyptian government to respond to popular sentiment critical of the role played by the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak's government in collaborating with Israel and the US in maintaining the siege of Gaza and being the chief Arab backer of the Abbas faction in Palestine and strongly opposing Hamas at every turn:

The Real News video interview with Professor Samer Shehata of Georgetown University below gives a broader and more detailed view of changes in Egyptian foreign policy, including an analysis of the role played by Hosni Mubarak's government as an effective ally of Israel and what is now changing in that regard:

IV.  There has been an immediate and intense response to the agreement in Israel and the United States. 

The following article by Michael Warshawski of the Alternative Information Center characterizes the response of the Netanyahu government and other sectors of the Israeli establishment as one of  "panic".

Initial reaction in the US Congress and the Obama administration appeared to echo Netanyahu's response, with the predictable denunciation of Hamas as a "terrorist group" and the continued prospect of opposing any kind of negotiations with any unity government which includes Hamas.  The article by M.J. Rosenberg in Al Jazeera below analyzes the responses in the halls of power in the US and puts it in the context of the recent history of  US kowtowing to Israeli demands, even at the expense of US national interests:

However, Obama's recent public address where he seems to open the possibility of negotiations with a unity government and emphasizes the 1967 borders as a basis of settlement for a two-state solution, clearly has angered the Netanyahu government in Israel and some Israeli supporters in the US.  Obama also re-iterated criticisms of Hamas for "refusing to recognize Israel's existence" and strong administration support for Israel as a "Jewish state" and the "homeland of the Jewish people", making it clear that the continued denial of the right-of-return for Palestinians will remain US policy. 

What is different and what is the same in the Obama administration's current approach?  This Real News interview of Omar Barghoui, Palestinian leader of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, see nothing of any positive significance for Palestinians in Obama's recent pronouncements, but merely a continuation of the US role as a biased and self-serving interloper in the region:

Real News also did a recent interview with longtime American commentator and supporter of Palestinian rights Phyllis Benning, who sees Obamas pronouncements as essentially continuing existing one-sided US support for Israel but also containing the possibility of supporting negotiations between Israel and a unity government:

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Palestinian Civil Society calls upon Arab Summit

“Protect Palestinian Refugees and Work for their Right of Return”

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
28 March 2007

“Recent Israeli statements claiming readiness to engage with the Arab Initiative, if Arab states dropped the clause on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in accordance with UN Resolution 194, is nothing but yet another attempt to deceive Arabs and Palestinians and obtain free concessions... Any compromise of the rights of the refugees stands for the continuation of the Nakba (catastrophe) inflicted upon the Palestinian people since 1948 and perpetuates the conflict with Israel,” say Palestinian civil society organizations to Arab leaders convening today, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the summit of the Arab League.

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