Meshaal and Abbas last Thursday.(Mohammed al-Hams/Khaled Meshaal’s Office of Media via Getty Images)
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Fatah, Hamas Re-Up Alliance

Meanwhile Israel continues to withhold crucial P.A. funds

Marc Tracy
November 28, 2011
Meshaal and Abbas last Thursday.(Mohammed al-Hams/Khaled Meshaal's Office of Media via Getty Images)

Reconciliation 2.0 is already off to a better start than Reconciliation 1.0, chiefly because Fatah and Hamas have figured out that the best way to stay united is to make the unification as purely rhetorical as possible. Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (of Fatah) met over the weekend and hashed out the deal: namely, to meet again on Dec. 22, and to hold elections later. Will there be an interim unity government in the meantime? Nope, says Hamas. When will elections be? Abbas says May 4; Hamas has not agreed or suggested its own date. Abbas has also suggested a technocratic unity government, which, of course, contradicts Hamas’ plans. The same problems that doomed Reconciliation 1.0—the fundamental discrepancy between Fatah’s and Hamas’ visions for the future of the Palestinians and how to attain it—will doom Reconciliation 2.0 as well. The idea this time around seems to be to walk the fine line between committing enough to sate a restive, dissatisfied populace but not too much that the whole thing blows up. For Fatah, however, this still means that Israel, the United States, and any other reasonable party can validly accuse it of being in league with terrorists.

To which the only fair rebuttal might be that they have little other choice. Israel’s policies over the past month or two have isolated the P.A. and rewarded Hamas (with the Gilad Shalit deal, for example). Israel is still withholding more than $100 million in P.A. tax revenue as punishment for the organization’s joining of UNESCO. The only wild card here might be Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: the Steve Jobs-loving, American-trained technocrat warns that he will not be able to pay P.A. salaries this week. Funding the P.A. is good for the moderates and bad for the radicals: It’s pretty much that simple. If you truly oppose the P.A.’s unseemly alliance with Hamas—instead of merely finding it convenient to condemn it—then you should advocate the unfreezing of those funds.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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