If the deal is reached and Ramallah leaders cooperate with Gaza, one of the worst politician-made disasters would come to an end.
The leaders of Gaza, who were dragged behind the Qatari adventures and Iranian power, are bearing the heavy burdens of this dark phase. Ten painful years have slowly passed for the overcrowded strip. Gazans endured a devastating war that was waged without a political project. The factions inside the Gaza Strip were divided between extremists and those who are even more extreme.
Trade was banned, tunnels blocked, swimming in the sea forbidden and fishermen faced restrictions. It all began when the airport, symbolizing peace and a better future, was closed. The main issue in Gaza became the status of its border crossing, and when it would open to allow humanitarian relief.
Gazans’ misery was not a collective national burden or political necessity; it was a mere absurdity and a personal rivalry for leadership. Even if we cannot yet be sure that the new deal will last, before verifying that it is effective and efficient for a few weeks and months, such a deal can be considered as the best thing that has happened in years.
Can Rami Hamdallah’s government handle the administration of Gaza and get along with Hamas at the same time? Will his government be able to forget their differences and cooperate to bring the Strip back to the West Bank?
There are many long-standing reasons that would make the task more difficult. Even if the deal succeeds today, it may not last for long unless serious work is done to end the tragedy of Gaza, which cannot be disregarded and unsolved, whether on the Palestinian, Arab or international level.
The return of Gaza to Ramallah is an important sign that shows that the Palestinian leadership can speak on behalf of all Palestinians together. The reconciliation will abolish the justifications of Israelis, who reject peace, as they are referring to Hamas, Islamic terrorism, and the rest of the armed opposition movements as those who have thwarted peace attempts in the past.
The leaders of Gaza, dragged behind Qatari adventures and Iranian power, are bearing the heavy burdens of this dark phase.
The reconciliation paves the way for new international initiatives. Even if no serious peace project emerges, it is now possible at least to reform the internal Palestinian situation, which has been wrecked after the conflict over power.
The return of Egypt to the scene is an important peace factor. Egypt was responsible for taking care of the Gaza Strip before the Qatari-Iranian interventions aimed at smashing Egypt’s role, sowing fear and besieging the Strip. Egypt did not stop trying to be a mediator over the 10 years of internal Palestinian conflict, but it did not succeed. However, this is the first time that we see a glimpse of hope in ending the brotherly conflict. All that is needed is good intentions; the authorities should not seek full hegemony and Hamas’ goal should not be to open the crossings, overcome the crisis and then return to conflicts and hostility.
This reconciliatory step may be the first step toward stability in the region — a leap to end regional chaos.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published. Twitter: @aalrashed