A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 26, 2009--Fatah and Hamas Meet
Today Egypt hosted a meeting between Hamas and Fatah in an attempt to create some type of Palestinian national unity government. Observers consider the situaiton difficult but not impossible. The gulf between them is huge, and the individuals involved hate each other with a passion. On the other hand, they all understand that at the moment the Palestinians are dooming any hopes they have for an independent future by fighting amongst themselves.
The Egyptians are hosting this summit out of frustration at the Israelis for backing away from the ceasefire agreement that they had negotiated. That happened as a result of the mistimed political decision to tie the ceasefire to the freeing of Gilad Shalit. That could have been done when Israeli troops were minutes from the center of the Gaza Strip, or it could have been done if Israel was willing to pay the vast price that Hamas has demanded, but that was, and seemingly is not the case. To date, Hamas has not changed its initial position; instead Israel has been negotiating with itself over Shalit for the past year and quite intensely and publicly over the last month.
In the meantime, Qassam rockets continue to sporadically fall on the Negev. One fell on a house in Sderot today. Israel responded by attacking the tunnels in southern Gaza. This was the 90th missile or mortar to land on Israel since the end of the war with Hamas, which coincided20with President Obama’s inauguration. The military is claiming that with every day that goes by, Hamas does more smuggling and any gains made in the operation are disappearing. Clearly Israel’s political and military goals were not in synch and Israel will pay the price.
Tomorrow a final meeting is expected between MK Netanyahu and Minister of Foreign Relations Livni regarding the possibility of a unity coalition. By all accounts the issue of a future Palestinian state seems unbridgeable. There can always be surprises in Israeli politics, but none of the observers expect much out of the meeting.