Mixed reactions to Palestine unity agreement

What do Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank have to say about the unity pact between Hamas and Fatah?

Hamas and Fatah officials have signed an agreement, but many Palestinians are sceptical of the deal [Reuters]
Hamas and Fatah officials have signed an agreement, but many Palestinians are sceptical of the deal [Reuters]

The Palestinian movement Hamas has signed a deal in Gaza with rival Fatah party, possibly ending eight years of split and political rift.

The agreement is hoped to restore political unity between the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, and the occupied West Bank, where the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority rules.

The deal was mostly a reaffirmation of previous agreements the two sides reached in 2011 and 2012 in meetings in Cairo and Doha.The new pact authorises President Mahmoud Abbas to form a transitional government ruling the two Palestinian territories and hold general elections six months after the transitional government is sworn in.

Since it is not the first such deal, some residents in the Gaza strip and occupied West Bank were sceptical, while others welcomed it, but cautiously.

Isra Torsha, 29, hairdresser – occupied West Bank
Isra Torsha in the occupied West Bank [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

We need to end this internal fighting so that we can focus on more pressing issues, such as the Israeli occupation and economic problems.

We hope that this is the first step towards a more meaningful reconciliation process and that it’s not just ink on paper and a photo opportunity.

We also hope that this will lead to elections; an honest one, where those running can focus on the people and not on just having a seat in government.

Hafez Kamel, 65, clothes store owner – Gaza Strip
Hafez Kamel in the Gaza Strip [Fares Akram/Al Jazeera]

What is important is that the two sides have true intentions to implement [the deal] and do not come under pressure not to. Seven or eight years of suffering by the people are enough.

Hamas and Fatah were at an impasse and this is why they are considering ending their rift now.

Abbas and Fatah are suffering due to the stalemate of the US-brokered peace negotiations with Israel, while in Gaza, Hamas is hardly bearing the brunt of the siege.

That’s what they are coming to reconcile. I hope I’m wrong and that these aren’t the reasons that pushed them for unity.

Muna Dajani, 31, environmentalist – occupied West Bank
Muna Dajani in the occupied West Bank [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

I’m sceptical of this like many people. We have seen a lot of reconciliation efforts happen in the past, and I think it is a shame that today we make it a big deal that they got together.

I think it’s a shame that it is happening after so many years, and I think that the Palestinian cause has lost a lot due to what happened. Today, if you tell people that you are from Palestine, they ask you ‘Are you Fatah or Hamas?’ They have belittled our Palestinian cause to only a political fight.

For sure, unity is important, but I think we need to look for more strategic efforts to end the occupation and rebuild the Palestinian National Authority. Let’s wait and see. I think it is a political move and it is based on a lot of interests for the political parties, maybe now their interests are more aligned.

Mahmoud al-Farra, 32, public relations officer, government media office – Gaza Strip
Mahmoud al-Farra in the Gaza Strip [Fares Akram/Al Jazeera]

Arrests and threats to each party’s freedom endanger the agreement, and this issue should have been given more discussions.

The freedoms committee often fails to carry out its role due to the arrests of either party in Gaza and in the West Bank by the opposing party. 

Abdelqader Abdo, 83, tailor – occupied West Bank

Abdelqader Abdo in the occupied West Bank [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

Reconciliation is what we want. We want to unite. We are hoping for the best. And this time, I think it just might work.

It may not have worked before because everything has its time. People are tired and exhausted from this infighting. It’s been years. Our faith in God is big and we should always be optimistic.

Um Mohammad Assali – Gaza Strip 

Um Mohammad Assali in the Gaza Strip [Fares Akram/Al Jazeera]

I’m here protesting to demand the incoming government to look after the families of the martyrs.

We want Hamas and Fatah to be one hand, united, for the sake of our martyred sons. If they forget about their personal stakes and positions, the reconciliation will happen.

Kamal Takatka, 31, director of Palestinian Dream Institution charity – occupied West Bank
Kamal Takatka in the occupied West Bank [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

A reconciliation agreement needs support from the Arab world and I think that the current atmosphere there, and how the Arabs are busy with their own problems and revolutions, isn’t conducive to supporting this agreement.

The Arabs won’t look beyond their borders to support this end to infighting and to actually make it work. Meanwhile, five weeks isn’t a long time to ensure this agreement is implemented.

There is a fear that this might not work also because some important issues were not discussed, such as the security file and how to deal with the internal security in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All these problems prevent us from achieving a real reconciliation that can actually bridge the chasm between us Palestinians that started seven years ago.

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