I’ve pasted below the full text of what is, according to the Palestinian National Initiative (Mustafa Barghouti’s organization), the new Palestinian unity agreement. My thanks go to independent journalist Jared Malsin for alerting me to this translation, and to Ma’an News’reporter and English Editor George Hale for the list of signatory organizations.
The translation is rough in some places, and there is a distinct lack of clarity in some areas, making me wonder if the former hasn’t led to some of the latter. But on the whole, this agreement doesn’t say much that hasn’t been reported already. I’ll just make a couple of points.
There is a good deal here about healing the rift that has developed between Gaza and the West Bank. It’s unclear how that can be accomplished while Israel lies between the two territories, and is not likely to be disposed to allowing passage between them. Elections could be a problem as well, although Israel did allow Hamas to campaign in 2005. Still, given that experience, it’s hard to count on such “largesse” again.
There are two passages that seem to be key, but are very vague in their wording.
Section 2 seems to indicate that Hamas is agreeing to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to continue to be the representative of the Palestinian people in negotiations, primarily of course, with Israel. We should recall that, despite a blurring of the line between the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, the two are different, albeit overlapping, bodies, and the PLO is still the only recognized representative of the Palestinian people (so recognized by Israel, the US and the international community, and at one time by the Palestinian people. Whether this remains true for Palestinians is problematic at best). This is what allows Hamas to straddle the line between dealing with Israel and its refusal to recognize the “Zionist entity.” It would seem this reaffirms Hamas’ stated position of years past that they would abide by an agreement negotiated by Abbas is it was approved by a popular referendum.
But the section is so vaguely worded that, when coupled with Hamas’ recent call for the PLO to cancel its recognition of Israel, one has to wonder just what it means in real life.
The second key piece is section 4.A. This would seem to be the part that leads to the end of Salam Fayyad’s role in the PA. If so, that would really be a shame. I don’t think he’s the right person to be prime Minister, but he brings a lot to the Palestinian table, and those skills should not be wasted.
Fayyad is mis-cast as Prime Minister, and this is most obvious in the limited democratic structure he has put into the PA government. Nathan Brown, in a long piece about the failures of what he calls “Fayyadism” makes this point. But Fayyad has done an excellent job of managing the fragments of the Palestinian economy and installing fiscal responsibility and transparency…you know, the things he is actually trained for. These would be useful skills for both an interim and whatever new permanent so-called government the Palestinians come up with.
But Hamas seems to have identified Fayyad as the symbol of everything that is wrong with the PA. And Fatah’s own concern about Fayyad’s not being one of their own means they won’t come to his defense, particularly since the sectors they appeal to also like Fayyad, perhaps too much. Still, some of the words Hamas spokesmen have used seem to indicate they recognize some of his skills and might be persuaded to make use of them. Again, time will tell.
In all, the document doesn’t really contain surprises, and leaves an awful lot of detail unclear. That is probably necessary in order to come up with a document that could garner the signatures of all the groups listed. But it is also a recipe for a collapse of this agreement similar to the ones we have seen in the past.
Read for yourselves.
Full text of the Agreement between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo
This document is currently in the process of being signed by all of Palestine’s factions and parties.
Under the auspices of Egypt, delegations from the Fatah and Hamas movements met in Cairo on April 27, 2011 to discuss the issues concerning ending the political division and the achievement of national unity. On top of the issues were some reservations related to the Palestinian National Unity Accord made in 2009.
Both political parties mutually agreed that the basis of understanding made during the meeting are committing to both parties in the implementation of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement. The basis of understanding agreed upon by Fatah and Hamas are as follows:
A. Election Committee:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to identify the names of the members of the Central Election Commission in agreement with the Palestinian factions. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President who will issue a decree of the reformation of the committee.
B. Electoral Court:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree on the nomination of no more than twelve judges to be members of the Electoral Court. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President in order to take the necessary legal actions to form the Electoral Court in agreement with the Palestinian factions.
C. Timing of Elections:
The Legislative, Presidential, and the Palestinian National Council elections will be conducted at the same time exactly one year after the signing of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement.
2. Palestine Liberation Organization
The political parties of both Fatah and Hamas agree that the tasks and decisions of the provisional interim leadership cannot be hindered or obstructed, but in a manner that is not conflicting with the authorities of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
It was emphasized that the formation of the Higher Security Committee which will be formed by a decree of the Palestinian President and will consist of professional officers in consensus.
A. Formation of the Government:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to form a Palestinian government and to appoint the Prime Minister and Ministers in consensus between them.
B. Functions of the Government:
1. Preparation of necessary condition for the conduction of Presidential, Legislative and the Palestinian National Council elections.
2. Supervising and addressing the prevalent issues regarding the internal Palestinian reconciliation resulting from the state of division.
3. Follow-up of the reconstruction operations in the Gaza Strip and the efforts to end the siege and blockade that is imposed on it.
4. Continuation of the implementation of the provisions of the Palestinian National Accord.
5. To resolve the civil and administrative problems that resulted from the division.
6. Unification of the Palestinian National Authority institutions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
7. To fix the status of the associations, Non-Governmental Organizations and charities.
5. Legislative Council:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to reactivate the Palestinian Legislative Council in accordance to the Basic Law.
— Islamic Jihad
— Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
— Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
— Palestinian People’s Party
— Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
— Palestinian Liberation Front
— Arab Liberation Front
— Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command
— Baath Arab Socialist Party (al-Saika)
— Palestinian Arab Front
— Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA)
— Popular Resistance Committees [observer only]