Op-Ed via Foreign Affairs

Hamas and Fatah’s Step Forward Takes Palestine a Step Back

Last week, the government of Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank began reconciliation talks in Cairo, following a week of symbolic cabinet meetings and visits by high-ranking Egyptian officials to the Gaza Strip. The proceedings have remained closely guarded, but within a few days, Hamas and Fatah officials announced that a deal had been reached over how to jointly govern Gaza, which involves Fatah controlling the border crossing with Egypt and the deployment of 3,000 Palestinian Authority security forces in the Gaza Strip.

The talks have come after a decade–long rift between the two political groups. In 2007, fighting broke out after Hamas won a majority in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and Fatah and its allies refused to accept the results. Since then, the conditions in Gaza have worsened due to an Israeli-imposed blockade. Levels of poverty and unemployment have increased dramatically. Gazans have been cut off for an entire decade from essential building materials and food–stuffs, as well as from access to their own resources, such as offshore gas reserves. These conditions have been coupled with repeated assaults by Israel, which have overall made life untenable for ordinary Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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