Fatah and Hamas announced yesterday that they agreed on “gradual” elections in the PA both in the West Bank and Gaza and it is going to be under Turkish supervision.
Let’s begin with the happy end: there are not going to be any elections. There will be plenty of activity around them, but like in the past – nothing will come out of them.
I met a week ago PA sources in Ramallah and they were cynical and skeptical about the prospects of the move and said that there are already plenty of agreements that sunk into oblivion.
So, why all the bother? Why Hamas and Fatah invest so much energy into something that will not happen? First of all – it is not new. There are plenty of rounds that ended with agreements, but nothing came out of it.
But the real answer is that the talks have practical aims. The “unity” is the title, but the contents are something else.
According to the sources in Ramallah what brings Hamas and Fatah together is the rejection of Dahlan and the need to have a joint action plan against him.
In the West Bank they already began to arrest Dahlan’s loyalists, but the real center of power is the armed refugee camps and I wonder whether the PA will enter a clash with them.
We also have to see if Hamas in Gaza will exert a crackdown on Dahlan’s loyalists, because Gaza did not take part in the Istanbul talks. When we examine the participants – they all belong to the Qatar-Turkish orbit – Rajub and Aruri.
When we examine the Hamas/Gaza organ of this morning, “a-Risala”, we cannot find the enthusiasm. They brought the good news from Istanbul down the page and not as a Hamas announcement but as a Rajub’s announcement.
The issues that took the headlines are all local issues of Gaza.
The sources in Ramallah said that there were pressures on Fatah from the Qatari wing of Hamas that included many telephone calls to Fatah cadres and the leadership. At some point Qatar intervened, so it became part of the Qatari-Gulf divide. Here we can understand the tactical agreement about Dahlan, who belongs to the Gulf side vs. Rajub who belongs to the Qatari side. (With the reservation whether Gaza will join the anti Dahlan campaign, which I doubt).
The mention of Turkey as the supervisor of the elections give it the comical aroma of the entire issue.
Another reason for the announcement yesterday — Abu Mazen gives today a speech to the UN General Assembly and he needs to keep the Palestinian cause alive, so he is scheduled to announce the unity and the elections as a proof that Palestine is still alive.
And tomorrow is another day.