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Is it an Apportionment or a National Partnership?
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
October 20, 2017

Returning to the apportionment again as an alternative to the principle of national partnership, means establishing a new crisis.

The Fatah and Hamas delegations went to Cairo to negotiate about implementing the understandings to end the division, despite the widespread welcome that is accompanied by some pessimism, would not eliminate the following:

• The authoritarian official leadership in Ramallah, would not have responded to the Egyptian initiative, if it had not felt the deep impasse in its political project which it signed on 13 September 1993. The political project that has been used by PA to overstep the PLO's national project and the Declaration of Independence, that declared in the Great Intifada in 1988. After a quarter of a century of negotiations, the PA president recognized, from the UN platform, that he is the president of a "state without sovereignty" and "powerless authority", in addition to that the occupation, which was exempted by Oslo Accords and understandings of security coordination between the Palestinian security services and occupation authorities from the costs of the occupation, has become an “occupation without cost".

The President of the Authority would not have recognized all this (perhaps for the twentieth time), if he had not realized that he was facing the deadlock. Netanyahu does not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state, and Trump does not consider the state, as (the only solution) (i.e. there are other solutions, such as the confederation with Jordan, the economic solution that Netanyahu has spoken about, or the complex solution - a state in Gaza and autonomy in the West Bank under the full Israeli hegemony). President Abbas also knows that getting out of this impasse, means going to the uprising, resistance and national coalition program. Therefore, he saw in the Egyptian initiative to end the division with Hamas, an opportunity to gain more time and to bet on time (some members of Fatah Central Committee, talk about the need for three years to complete the steps of ending the division, and some of them talk about five years).

• The leadership of Hamas would not have agreed upon the Egyptian initiative, accepted (after a long time) the dissolution of administrative committee which supervises the ministries of PA, completely shown its good intentions and received the government delegation and its followers in Gaza (as they are victorious), if it had not been convinced that its divisive project had reached to a deadlock, in addition to that the Gaza strip which has been controlled by arms force of Hamas, on 14 June 2007, has become (after more than ten years of division), a heavy burden on the shoulders of Hamas, therefore, it failed to manage its affairs and also failed to cover up its shortcomings, through imposing its measures, under a (fake) pretext of that it is spreading faith and religion in the strip, as if the people of strip were not believers and Muslims, and they were waiting for the appearance of a new dawn of Islam with the bloody Hamas coup. Hamas's bet failed to offer an alternative formula to the PA in Ramallah, Beside its failure to resolve the growing life problems of inhabitants of Gaza Strip, its regional bet on the rise of Muslim Brotherhood in more than one Arab country (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria), support Erdogan's party in Turkey, and get unlimited sponsorship of Al Doha. Therefore, it paved the way for its steps , through a (new) political office, political document, and regional trends, including the conviction that Egypt is closer to the strip than Qatar and Turkey, in addition to that the Muslim Brotherhood can no longer protect Hamas from the winds of internal discontent, in which has been considered by political groups, a spark of a big mass explosion. Also ,It can no longer protect Hamas from the regional winds that blow against the Islamist movement in Gaza.

Moreover, an observer cannot erase from his calculations the political and popular pressure of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, on the two sides throughout the long period of division. This pressure forced the two parties to move from the situation of justifying the division and its existence (Hamas), and the situation of justifying the continuation of division and disabling the projects of ending it (Fatah and Hamas), to the situation of calling for ending the division and restoring the internal unity, in addition to move from the recognition that the division is in favor of the national cause (see Hamas's statements in the first weeks and months of division and the reactions of Fatah leaders), to recognize the need to work to end the division as it had a bad effect on the National issue and disrupt the progress of struggle of Palestinian people, and weaken its ability to resist the occupation, settlement and siege.

Now, the two sides have gone to Cairo to enter into discussions, which may be marathonic, under the Egyptian sponsorship (read the Egyptian pressure) and under a state of popular satisfaction (read the political pressure and the public caution), it is necessary to give attention to a fundamental issue that is the result of the bad experience of similar discussions which have been made by two parties. namely: what is the basis that will be adopted by the parties to end the division? To illustrate, we add that the issues, as Azzam al-Ahmad (the head of Fatah delegation to Cairo) said, are putting the detailed procedures for the return of Ramallah government to exercise its power in Gaza Strip. We believe that this expression, is indications that explain what the background of Fatah delegation's thinking is. However, the delegation of Hamas talks about «files» including, the issue of employees, security services, crossings, elections, new government and others, i.e. that the both parties are facing thorny issues that the good intentions cannot deal with.

Therefore, if the negotiations are conducted on the basis of bilateral apportionment between Fatah and Hamas, outside the concept and framework of the comprehensive national partnership, this means (in our opinion) that the two sides are working once again to establish the conditions for creating a new crisis between them, may lead them, as previous times, to conflicts that may end up with a battle that one of the two parties will win it. The apportion, or what we call "bilateral attraction", was the reason of 2006/2007 crisis, which ended with the explosion on 14 June 2007 and led to the failure of all previous discussions of ending the division including, Cairo, Mecca (where the two sides swore in front of the Kaaba), Sana'a, Khartoum and the beach camp.

The return to apportionment again, on the basis of the sharing cake, that will be a spark for future explosions. Because the apportionment is actually based on conflict over quotas, and the sharing of quotas means, that each party considers its quota as much less than it deserves, and that its right to have a larger quota, is unquestionable issue. Thus, the battle for apportionment, and the struggle for quotas, is a wide open battle, especially in the context of a state of greed that dominates the bureaucratic and influential groups which look for greater individual gains on both sides, although the difference that would sometimes happen at the level of manifestations of this situation and its expressions.

In short, The logic of national partnership is the logic that unites the Palestinian people in all its categories, streams, political and social forces, its civil institutions, trade unions and others. to say that what will be agreed upon between both parties, will be proposed on the forces to ratify on it, in a comprehensive discussion. Gaza is not owned by Hamas, and the West Bank doesn't belong to Fatah. Therefore, the concept of national partnership is the alternative solution, which led us, for example, to the consensus on Cairo Declaration (2005) and consensus on National Accord Document (26/6/2006), which if the parties had worked on and hadn't resorted to the apportionment in the formation of second government of Haniyeh, the people would not have paid the price from their interests during more than ten years of bloody division.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Manal Mansour and Hassan Barazi

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