Zachary J. Schullian
Fatah and Hamas reached a deal on Palestinian elections at the Palestinian Consulate in Istanbul last week, according to Al Jazeera. This has raised hopes that the factions can unite after years of animosity, facing a shared issue as Israel continues to threaten annexation while it normalizes relations with Arab nations. The proposal for parliamentary, presidential, and national council elections was discussed among all Palestinian factions in a leadership meeting on October 3. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to set three dates for Palestinian legislative, presidential, and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) national council elections.
The Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Palestinian Islamist organization, will only participate in the national council elections that are representative of the diaspora and not connected to peace accords with Israel, Al Jazeera furthers. The PA and its legislative council are both products of the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO, which the Islamic Jihad does not recognize.
Despite Fatah and Hamas working towards the same goal of building a Palestinian state on the territories that Israel occupied in 1967, consisting of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, there are some stark differences. Hamas believes in an Islamic Palestinian state and a militaristic strategy towards Israel, while Fatah supports a secular state and a diplomatic approach to Israel, Al Jazeera reports.
On Friday, September 25, Hamas denied that it has reached an agreement with its rivals in Fatah to hold new elections for the Palestinian Authority presidency and parliament, The Jerusalem Post reports. The denial came one day after PA President Mahmoud Abbas promised the United Nations General Assembly that those elections would be held. Mahmoud Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah, said that his faction and Hamas have reached a preliminary agreement “to confront the American-Israeli schemes and the normalization of relations between a number of Arab countries and Israel.”
A day earlier, foreign ministers from four Arab and European countries meeting in Jordan said a two-state solution is the only path to end the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called for a resumption of negotiations between the two sides. The top diplomats from France, Egypt, and Jordan held a meeting on Thursday in Amman. There will be “no comprehensive and lasting peace without solving the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi told reporters following the meeting.
“There is no other solution,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian agreed. The Palestinians and the Israelis need to prove their commitment to dialogue, “and we are ready to support this process,” he added. Al Jazeera reports that Palestinians see the two accords as a betrayal that further weakens a long-standing pan-Arab position calling for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for establishing relations with Arab countries.
On Tuesday, September 29, Palestine quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, condemning any Arab agreements with Israel as dishonorable. Two weeks earlier, a pair of historic agreements formalizing diplomatic relations between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, were signed at the White House.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the accords, written in English, Hebrew and Arabic. This marks a major geopolitical shift in the Middle East and gives Trump a platform as a peacemaker as he heads into his re-election campaign, USA Today reports.