-- May 4, 2011 Hamas and Fatah Sign Unity Agreement

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

May 4, 2011 Hamas and Fatah Sign Unity Agreement

Hamas and Fatah officially signed their unity agreement today. The reactions amongst Israeli analysts was muted. Outgoing internal security (Shin Bet) Director, Yuval Diskin, gave an exit interview today, in which he stated that the agreement would not hold for long. Diskin gave an analogy of the motorcycle he received once. He quipped, the best two days of his motorcycle ownership were the day he received it and the day he gave it back. Diskin also criticized Prime Minister Netanyahus actions in attacking the agreement the moment the agreement was announced, stating Netanyahu's criticism was counterproductive and would just strengthen the agreement. Of course that may be exactly what Netanyahu would like, but more on that later.

Most Israeli analysts believe the agreement was the result of both Hamas and Fatah weakness. Hamas knows that its main sponsor, the Syrians, are in deep trouble and cannot be relied upon. Fatah has also lost its main sponsor, Mubarak. Meanwhile, most of the Palestinian street wants a unity government. For the moment the agreement is very general and covers none of the difficult issues. Committees have been appointed to deal with those issues that many consider insurmountable. Time will tell. The first step is to appoint an interim government and work towards elections.

At the ceremony the Hamas chief Halid Meshal stated that he is willing to pay any price for unity, and that the only enemy the Palestinians have is Israel. Meshal also stated again that he was willing to enter into a ten year Hudna for a state on the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, without giving up the right of Return.

Motti Kirshenbaum interviewed a former Palestinian cabinet minister, Sufian Abuzayda, tonight. He made some interesting observations when pushed by Kirshenbaum on what would happen if Hamas were to win the election (something Abuzayda called "the worst possible outcome".) Abuzayda stated that it was a "win-win" for Israel. After all, Israel claimed it believed in democracy. If Hamas was to win, there were two possible outcomes: either Hamas would change and recognize Israel, or it would not change. If Hamas changed, that would be all for the good. If Hamas does not change, Israel could clearly show the world it had no partner for peace. Of course, the problem with that, at least most of us, is that we want a true partner for peace.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is making the most of the agreement, calling it a major setback to the peace process. Of course one could ask what process? How this stance will play during his visit to the United States, and in the run up to a potential UN vote in the fall is unknown.

The White House announced tonight that President Obama would be meeting with the Prime Minister on May 10th.

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