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Gaza on the Precipice of an Abyss
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
February 18, 2018

No question about the fact that the population of the Gaza Strip is living in complex and accumulated crises under the aggression of occupation and the repercussions of division.

Although the general Palestinian situation is suffering from crises, the situation of the Gazans is deteriorating rapidly, which has led many national and international organizations and institutions to warn of an impending humanitarian catastrophe.

As due to the repercussions of split, the Strip has been subjected to punitive measures by the Palestinian Authority that have been extended to touch its employees too, and with the aggressive decisions of Trump's administration towards UNRWA, the Strip has been exposed to a lot of their negative repercussions, in relation to the large proportion of refugees among the population.

The Strip has been also subjected to a series of aggressive wars by the occupation, in which a large part of its infrastructure has been destroyed, and the subject of reconstruction is still linked to the multilateral strife.

The Gazans were optimized at the signing of the recent "reconciliation agreement" in Cairo, and they hoped to end a long chapter of their suffering due to the repercussions of division and the absence of institutions and ministries activities of the government of consensus, because the stubbornness that prevented the implementation of "Al-Shate’a Agreement" between Fatah and Hamas in 2014.

In the light of this optimism, they welcomed the arrival of the government of Al-Hamdallah and the holding of its meeting in Gaza, hoping that the problems of the Strip will be ended. But none of this has happened, and it has been clear that both sides of the division (and the agreement) have been moving according to the very same calculations that led to this division.

Before Cairo entering on the reconciliation line again and the signing of the last agreement (12/10/2017), the sharp quarrels between the two movements were at its culmination, after the Palestinian Authority made a series of measures and decisions, including the subtraction of a large proportion of the salaries of its employees in the Strip, referring a large number of its employees in the security services to the early retirement and stopping the provision of fuel for the power station in Gaza.

In order to reverse these measures, the PA stipulated that Hamas should dissolve its administrative committee in the Strip and enable the government of consensus to operate freely in the ministries and institutions in Gaza.

In the atmosphere of conditions and opposite conditions between the two sides of split, the Gazans and all the Palestinians felt that the division is going towards consecration rather than solution, until Cairo intervened and the last agreement was signed after Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee and its acceptance of the return of the PA government to the Gaza Strip.

The people of the Gaza Strip, and the entire Palestinian situation were shocked, that the PA did not immediately retreat from its decisions towards them, and linked it, according to the statements of its officials, to the enabling of the government completely, to work in Gaza and lift the sanctions, and it ignored that the two things can be done together.

By time, it was clear that the efforts to end the division have returned to the start point, and the exchange of accusations between the two sides has been started again, in which one of them considered the other responsible for that.

The experience of bilateral agreements between the two movements, since the Mecca agreement to the final agreement, clearly has shown that both understand the end of division as an agreement of sharing "power". This understanding is why all the agreements between them have failed.

Due to the continuation of this policy, Palestinian crises have accumulated, and exacerbated and the most dangerous thing in this "understanding" and this policy, is that the Gazans have been left alone in the face of all the tragedies they have exposed to, after the Strip has become a subject of friction between the two sides, in a desperate try of replying the wrong question, who governs Gaza?

By this policy also, the Strip has been turned into a source of problems and crises that threatens to explode at every moment, and this is what everyone warned of, including the security institutions in the occupation state, but in the sense of possibility that this explosion may be in the form of an uprising.

Therefore, Palestinian forces and factions have warned since the signing of the 12/10 agreement in Cairo, of the return to failure. This warning was due to the mechanisms included in the agreement, which to implement it, have adopted the formation of bilateral committees between the two movements to deal with each file included in the agreement. These forces and factions called on forming comprehensive national committees as a substitute for the bilateral ones, so that the discussions in these committees will get out of the sharing between the two movements.

In order for national committees to be concerned with the re-unification of institutions on solid national foundations, away from all forms of class, or factional orientation, then, the result is that the national interest will be above the self-interest.
Thus, by experience, the decisions of comprehensive national dialogues are supposed to be achieved as a substitute for the bilateral deals.

It is regrettable that the recent aggression on the Palestinians by the decisions of Trump's administration regarding Jerusalem and UNRWA has not been a serious and practical incentive for the both sides of division, to change their previous policies with regard to the restoration of unity.

The Gaza Strip is witnessing wide protests against Trump's decisions towards UNRWA, and against the reality of poverty, unemployment, the scarcity of potable water, electricity shortages and, above all, the rising of prices. So, if these problems are not resolved by the Palestinian Authority and its government first, things will be very dangerous.

In light of this, there is no alternative to the activation of efforts to bring down the division and restore unity within the framework of a unified national program and the formation of a comprehensive national government that will deal with the political and socio-economic issues, in order to implement the decisions of the national consensus, especially the decisions of the Central Council, which it has adopted at its previous two sessions, regarding the political process and the need to establish it in accordance with the relevant resolutions of legitimacy and in the framework of an international conference away from the American exclusivity. And regarding the formulation of economic policies, which start from the need to strengthen the steadfastness of the Palestinian society in the face of occupation, and ensure the development of appropriate solutions to the socio-economic crises, and at the forefront is the suffering of Gaza Strip and its people.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is an Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rasha Abo Allan
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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