Zakaria answers reader question on Hamas-Fatah reconciliation
Palestinians celebrate during a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus on May 04, 2011 as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip gather to welcome a reconciliation deal signed by rival movements Hamas and Fatah in Cairo. (Getty images)
May 11th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Zakaria answers reader question on Hamas-Fatah reconciliation

On Facebook, reader Flavio Ortigao asked me for my thoughts on the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Flavio, here you go:

I think the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal is a sign of the weakness of both Fatah and Hamas. It is a sign of the weakness of the Palestinian leadership. Both Fatah and Hamas felt they needed each other and felt they had to get their act together.

The big thing happening in the Arab world is the Arab awakening and this sense that leadership has to be more accountable. The truth of the matter is that neither the leadership of Fatah or Hamas has been very accountable.

Fatah has never even put itself up for election for fear of losing.  In the case of Hamas, they won 40% of the vote in a situation that was unusual.  And it seems as though since then they have lost a lot of that support. So both Fatah and Hamas were motivated to do something to show the Palestinian people that they’re trying to get their act together.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters that much because Hamas will need to forswear its charter and its talk about eliminating Israel for there to be any realistic prospect the Israelis will want to negotiate with them. So as far as I can tell, the reconciliation is a smaller move than meets the eye and ultimately will not have much effect on the Israeli-Palesitinian peace process.

For a long time, I have felt that there was much less prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace than people thought.  So far for the last 10 years, I’ve been proven right.  On the other hand, nobody has ever been proven wrong being pessimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

What are your thoughts? Send me your take and your questions via Facebook and Twitter.


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Kareem

    Peace will not be achieved so long as a faction of Palestineans continue to pursue it through violence. Recent history of similar apartheid like situations – Ireland, south Africa, India – show that the path to peace is gained through peaceful protest. Years of sufferring as violence is used as a means gain nothing, it is only when the arms of the persecuted are laid down that the international community will begin to put real pressure on for change. When the violence is one sided – Israel against a pacifist Palestine – the world will eventually force change. So the options remain continue to launch ineffective rockets, suffer intolerable injustice, and never see any change – or become pacifists, suffer injustice, and eventually achieve change.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      We outsiders face a dilemma. Who has more right? The jewish settlers who refer to their biblical rights to retake their promised land or the Palestinian locals who want to defend their territory. The reason why this conflict has been able to go on for decades, is there are strong forces supporting these two conflicting parties. While the Israelis struggle to secure the existence of their Jewish state, the neighbouring countries capitalise on the plight of the Palestinians to achieve their goals – the expansion of Pan-Arabism.

      May 12, 2011 at 4:38 am | Reply
    • miriam

      There is no "apartheid" situation in Israel, where Jews and non-Jews have equal rights, work together, travel, bathe and make laws together and are treated together and by each other in hospital. In the PA, however, one could describe an "apartheid" situation, where Jews will be ethnically cleansed from any future state. The current inaccurate impression of separation is a result of the very violence you condemn, but that violence is the result of the only obstacle to peace, the refusal of the Arab world to accept the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination in their historic, religious and cultural homeland, a refusal that has resulted in war, terrorism, misery and despair.

      May 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • Dr. M. H. Rajabally

      Recognition of a Jewish State is a red herring.Israel can take good care of itself.

      The conflict with America, Israel's humble servant, that has vetoed over 70 United Nations Resolutions against Israel's
      1967 occupation is the maior obstacle to peace and the creation of a Palestinian state..

      Interestingly, Egypt negotiated the raprochement between the two factions is not good for Israel and Mubarak's departure is a good sign for the Palestinians.

      Now King Abdullah of Jordan has to clean up his act.

      Hamas idea of a Islamic state with the implementation of Shariah is misguided and it is both a retorgrade step and a lack of knowledge and a misinterpretation of Islam.

      Israel not only controls the Palestinians. Obama and all past presidents have been castrated by Jewish-American lobby.ns, but also America

      Can any same person honestly say Israel has to fear for its existence, hence destruction with all the fire power American has given them?

      May 13, 2011 at 3:12 am | Reply
  2. RAJ

    Fatah -Hamas ajustment is not a good sign but weak bonding for selfish reason on both parties. There is no deep understanding between them.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Yes, you are right! The joint forces of Hamas and Fatah are certainly not welcomed by Israel. Again, we have two intransigent fronts, who would unlike renounce their claims.

      May 12, 2011 at 4:44 am | Reply
  3. DrMike

    Kareem is right, but he also leaves out one critical point– as long as the Palestinians insist that the only solution they will accept is the elimination of a Jewish state (via the fictional "right" of 4th generation descendants of refugees from the war launched by the Arabs in 1947 to "return" to Israel), then they will not get anything. When their leadership tells them– IN ARABIC– that their future lies in a Palestinian state living in peace alongside a Jewish state of Israel, then there can be peace.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  4. leeintulsa

    Mr Zakaria, i find your pessimism surprising.

    You praise Arab Spring. Change is happening, and Arab/Israeli relations just might be at the heart of it – perhaps when the smoke clears and what's done is done, and the histories written, it might be discovered that the Arab/Israeli issue is the reason for everything. Maybe this conflict is keeping all these people in the third world.

    I've said it before – through no fault of his own, Obama is going to bring peace to the middle east.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • Aderick

      The palistinian-Israeli conflict was an excuse that Arab leaders have been using to distract ppl from what is going on in their countries the Arab spring has proven that

      May 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  5. Shalom Freedman

    This is an accurate description of the situation. There is however an even more unfortunate deeper reality which points to the unlikelihood of true peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the future. 'Hamas' charter is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews from the Middle East. This is clear to everyone. But what has not been clear to many is that 'Fatah' too continues in its incitement against Israel, and is not really ready to recognize a Jewish state. The conditions for Peace which it has insisted upon would mean the destruction of Israel. Only when there is a real transformation in the leadership of the Palestinians and they aim at what is best for their people, peace with Israel will there be real hope of Peace.

    May 12, 2011 at 10:14 am | Reply

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