Palestinians cautiously optimistic on reconciliation

While some doubt rapprochement will work, others hope a unified leadership will usher into era of growth and peace.

    The latest reconciliation deal between the governments of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was welcomed by Palestinians.

    The division began in the summer of 2007 after Fatah, led by US-backed strongman Mohammed Dahlan, attempted a pre-emptive coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

    Hamas, who had won the general elections six months prior, managed to chase Fatah out of Gaza after bloody civil infighting took place between the two sides.

    While some have expressed scepticism over whether the reconciliation will hold out, many hope that a unified Palestinian leadership will usher in economic growth and political stability.

    Al Jazeera interviewed Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and asked them their opinions over ending the 11-year division.

    Gaza Strip

    Mohammed al-Homs, 23, student:

     

    I hope there will be positive outcomes despite the fact we haven't seen anything on the ground. I believe this issue needs more time to be resolved. The arrival of the Palestinian Authority government in the Gaza Strip is a good sign that this reconciliation will finally work.

    The division has erased 11 years of my life. Every graduate, every worker, every young man has had 11 years of their lives wasted away in a blockade, wars, and destruction.

    We hope we can live, that a graduate can find a job after university, that they can finally have a horizon to look forward to and stop thinking about leaving Gaza in search of a better life.

    Awad Qishta, 56, university professor: 

     

    We hope we can see something concrete happening on the ground, like the opening of the borders and paying government employees their full salaries.

    The infighting of the political factions and the media wars pitted against each other is unhealthy and unsuitable to the Palestinian people. We want our entire homeland, not just pieces of it.

    I wish for everyone to find a job after they graduate, to secure their future, to live in peace and security.

    Faris Lutfi Nasr, 60, retired:

    This time it looks like the reconciliation will have a positive outcome because of the presence of those who wish to work in the interest of the Palestinian people. It is not like the previous times where each party was working to secure their own benefits.

    The youth - from graduates, employees, workers - have been miserable for the past 11 years. Yet if this reconciliation succeeds then these people who have been crushed from all sides, who have suffered financially, mentally and from low morale, will have a new life and will work to build a better society.

    Areej Hmeid, 25, unemployed:

     

    I see that there is room for a reconciliation to take place because in all honesty, people – even from Fatah and Hamas – are fed up with the status quo. People have died waiting for the border crossings to open and youth have suffered from unemployment.

    I am cautiously optimistic because Hamas and Fatah have both agreed on the same conditions as opposed to each side presenting their own list of conditions.

    The division has affected me personally in that I am still unemployed after years of graduating from university. I also lost my dear sister who was sick and waiting for the border to open to receive treatment in Egypt. It almost destroyed my family because she was 21 years old, in the flower of her youth.

    Furthermore, my mother was stranded in Egypt for eight months and couldn't get back into Gaza. She only managed to come back when the border was open to accept the return of the Hajj pilgrims.

    Ahmad Mohammad al-Ja'farawi, 22, student:

     

    In my personal opinion, as someone from Gaza, I am not optimistic. Reconciliation attempts have occurred in the past without any results. The agreements of the past failed. We hope this time it will succeed and our situation will improve, from opening the borders to ending the siege.

    As a fourth-year university student, I hope I will be able to find a job after I graduate. But the way things stand I don't see that I have a chance. I hope this reconciliation will offer graduates before me, and those in my year, job opportunities.

    Saja Sami Hamdan, 18, student:

     

    Last time an agreement was signed, a war was waged on Gaza [by Israel].The steps taken towards reconciliation this time occurred before in 2014. We hope this will be a serious attempt at reconciliation that does not hold any ulterior political motives.

    I just want to say that when posters of [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] el Sisi were raised in Gaza, that is not a good sign. Sisi is the one responsible for closing the border in our faces for years.

    We hope things will improve in the near future because Gaza is full of youthful energy and intellectual resources that need to be accommodated instead of wasting away.

    We need the youth to be guided towards what is good for them. Some of them have turned to painkillers because they stay at home all day for lack of jobs. We need jobs in Gaza, and electricity.

    READ MORE: Why Fatah and Hamas won\'t reconcile

     West Bank

    Mohammed Rashid Abdeljabbar, 70, retired:

     

    We pray for this reconciliation to succeed. No one is against it. We are one nation, one people. The government and the officials know what the people want. Getting rid of unemployment is one.

    They need to help their own people out. 11 years of Gaza being under blockade is enough.


    Hikmat Hamed, 24, writer:

     

    We hope that this time the reconciliation will be made in the interests of the Palestinian people and not in the interests of political parties. It is the people who were the victims of the division all these years. The reconciliation should first of all weld the Palestinians back together.

    Palestinians in Gaza had paid the higher price for the division, more than the West Bank. Gaza should be rebuilt again with the correct infrastructure and be afforded opportunities in terms of economic growth and jobs.

    Majd Imad Abumayaleh, 21, student:

     

    Anyone who works in the interests of the Palestinian people from either side (Fatah and Hamas) is important. The biggest loss of this division was the Palestinian cause which was further fragmented by the factions' self-interest.

    We hope that the reconciliation will result in progressive concrete steps. What we need is a true political representation of Palestinians that can talk in a unified narrative.

    Ruwaida Lutfi Omar, 65, grandmother:

    We all hope that Palestinians can be united again, and for all political parties to be on the same page. But Israel wants us to remain divided. It is important that we can cooperate with each other. I saw the television interview with [Egypt's President] Sisi, and it looks like Egypt is serious about it this attempt.

    Mai Abughorbiah, 39, government employee:

     

    The reconciliation is a national victory, and should have been done some time ago. I hope this reconciliation will act as moral and economic support for Gaza and the West Bank. I consider the two as one heart.

    I hope the roads will open for us to visit each other. Gaza has been through so much; it has been strangulated, and there are many cases of suicide we are hearing about.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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