Is the security dossier really away from Hamas-Fateh dialogue?

Abbas and Meshal

Abbas and Meshal

London, May 15, 2012

It was clear in all previous rounds of talks between the two Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fateh that the security dossier is the main deadlock in the way of their reconciliation. This dossier always consumes the time of their talks and, at the end, it is not resolved. Such a dossier is not difficult to be figured out, but the problem is that each of both rivals has its own view about it which it too far from the other’s.

For Fateh, it sees that it is obligated by Oslo Accord signed with the Israelis in 1993, which dictates that Palestinian Authority must cooperate and coordinate with the Israelis in security issues and both Palestinian and Israeli sides exchange, discuss and agree on the names of security officers and commanders of the Palestinian security apparatuses. There must be joint security patrols. This is called by Dr Ibraheem Habeeb, a Palestinian political researcher, a problematic issue in the role of security apparatuses.

In the opposite side, Hamas sees that the role of security apparatuses is to protect Palestinians’ security and confront Israeli threats against them. There mustn’t be a room for cooperation and coordination between Palestinians and Israelis in this sensitive dossier. It insists that this endangers the life of Palestinians and adds more complications to their lives. Therefore, at the time each side is stick to its view, it appears that there is no compromise regarding this dossier in the horizon.

Of course, each side has its own and logical reasons for sticking to its position. For Fateh and the PA, it would encounter a number of punitive Israeli measures if it carried out any compromise on security issues agreed upon with the Israelis. It will face a ban of movement of senior officials, freeze of tax revenues on Palestinian imports collected by the Israeli customs, attacks against posts of security apparatuses and an international pressure to disown the reconciliation. Fateh cannot resist all these measures and this is clear in its history. The last example was its disownment of the results of the PLC elections in 2006 and the security chaos it created on the ground.

For Hamas, it cannot compromise any of its positions towards the security dossier because it believes that it is the legal representative for Palestinians and it got this legitimacy through resistance. This position was reinforced through the PLC elections. Hamas also believes that when Palestinians elected it, it means that they elected the programme of resistance. Therefore, it highly believes that any compromise about its position towards the programme of resistance will endanger its popularity.

In addition, Hamas which has not let down its weapons against the Israelis suffers from continuous detention of its affiliates by the Fateh security apparatuses which are loyal to the details of the Oslo Agreement. Hamas leaders repeatedly said that there is no reconciliation without the freedom of all its prisoners in the PA jails. However, news about positive developments in the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fateh, but early this week, Sami abu-Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, declared explicitly that there is no reconciliation without the freedom of all Hamas members in the PA jails.

The problem does not lie in the detention of prisoners in Palestinian jails, but in the details behind that, which will prove for the Israeli side that Fateh is really committed to a Palestinian reconciliation on the basis of halting cooperation and coordination in security issues.

So that, the shade of the security dossier will stay the main reason which undermines intra-Palestinian reconciliation until Fateh gets rid of its security obligations towards the Israelis or Hamas laydowns its weapons. Both assumptions are impossible. This means that Palestinian reconciliation is also impossible.

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