Despite Israel's Threat, Palestinian Unity Pact Announced

The Palestine Liberation Organization and the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip announced an end to their seven-year political dispute on Wednesday, saying that the two main factions of the Palestinian people have signed a “historic” pact to re-unify the Palestinian governments in both the West Bank and Gaza within weeks and plans for new elections within the year.

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The announcement came at a press conference in Gaza where an envoy from the PLO, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, arrived on Tuesday for talks with the Hamas leadership.

“For the sake of Palestine and the Palestinian children, you must get unified against the Israeli occupation.” —Mariam abu Daqqa, activist in Gaza

“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s prime minister, to the gathered journalists.

“We have made this Palestinian dream a reality whereby the rift has come to an end and we are reunited,” said PLO official Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Palestinian Authority representing the Abbas-led Fatah party.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that unity between the Palestinian parties would put an end to the so-called “peace process” because, in his eyes, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, cannot possibly make peace with Hamas while also pursuing an end to the conflict with the state of Israel.

“[Abbas] has to choose,” said Netanyahu. “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn’t done so.”

According to Reuters:

The skepticism among some Palestinian rights experts, however, continues even in the wake of the announcement. For activist and journalist Ali Abunimah, who edits the influential Electronic Intifada website—the PA has diminished its legitimacy by repeatedly engaging with Israeli in “security operations” in the West Bank and by consistently avoiding a stronger stance amid the occupation of both the West Bank and Gaza.  Responding to Wednesday’s announcement, Abunimah sent several tweets voicing his skepticism of what the unity pact may bring:

And Al-Jazeera offered reactions to the agreement that bridged hopefulness and skepticism:

Offering additional details, the Ma’an News Agency adds:

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