P.A. President Abbas (L) and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (R) in Cairo during happier times.(PPM via Getty Images)

Ostensibly, Palestinian unity died because Fatah and Hamas could not agree on a prime minister: President Abbas, of Fatah, wanted to keep Salam Fayyad on; this was unacceptable to Hamas. But to say that the question of Fayyad killed reconciliation is like saying a 108-year-old died of a heart attack. In that case, cardiac arrest was the proximate cause, but the 108-year-old died because 108-year-olds die. In the Palestinians’ case, Fayyad might have been the immediate issue but unity was almost certainly fated to fail for any number of reasons.

So what next? It still seems likely that the Fatah-controlled Palestine Liberation Organization will push for a U.N. statehood vote in September, even without the unified front that reconciliation was supposed to supply. Negotiator Saeb Erekat insisted, in advance of next week’s Quartet meeting, that the peace process and the U.N. track are not mutually exclusive. And Abbas is actually now casting the postponement (“postponement”) of unity as a way to persuade Western countries distrustful of Hamas to support the statehood bid. Got that? We weren’t in bed with Hamas, but then we were, but now we’re not again, so all is well. Which is reminiscent of this Simpsons exchange:

Bart: I’ll take up smoking and give that up.
Homer: Good for you, son. Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Have a dollar.
Lisa: But he didn’t do anything!
Homer: Didn’t he, Lisa? Didn’t he?

So we’ll find out how Homer-like the General Assembly is.

Palestinian Unity Deal on Hold, Hamas Official Says [JPost]
Abbas Postpones formation of Unity Government in Bid to Appease Western Allies [Haaretz]
Palestinian Official: UN Vote on Statehood Won’t Contradict Peace Process [Haaretz]
Earlier: On Reconciliation, ‘The Devil Is In the Details’