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Judith Levy: Two Potential Short-Term Outcomes to the Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation

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Hamas made almost no concessions to achieve its unity deal with the Palestinian Authority, and has enjoyed a nice boost in prestige as its result. It has also benefited from the subsequent loss of (already minimal) international interest in the dissatisfaction of Gazans with their hopelessly incompetent and repressive regime. But Hamas will not necessarily remain the only beneficiary of its reconciliation with Fatah. Two dividends could accrue to Israel as well -- one international and the other domestic.

  1. Netanyahu will be speaking before Congress later this month. He has been under tremendous pressure to come up with some kind of viable peace initiative to forestall the drive toward the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state that is to come before the UN General Assembly in September. By allying with Hamas, Abbas has handed Netanyahu an out. The onus is on the Palestinians now, not Israel, to prove their good faith. Bibi can make the point before Congress that if the Palestinians are still interested in a two-state solution -- and, more importantly, will be satisfied with a two-state solution once it exists -- Hamas will have to lay down its arms against Israel and recognize Israel's right to exist. Since these contingencies are highly unlikely, the heat should come off Israel (if only briefly) with regard to the peace process.
  2. Hamas and Fatah want to hold elections in the fall. Palestinians on the ground (if not their advocates abroad) are fully aware that on a domestic policy level, the Hamas regime has been a catastrophic failure. If Hamas wants to get its roster elected (as "independents," of course), they're going to have to throw the people something to cheer about, and they're going to have to do it fast. As Haaretz notes, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners pouring out of Israeli jails and into the welcoming arms of their families would make a heck of a photo op. And it can be accomplished by releasing Gilad Shalit.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

 

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