Fatah and Hamas — A decade of strained ties

A Palestinian man waves the flags of Egypt and Palestine as people gather in Gaza City to celebrate after rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt on Thursday, October 12, 2017. (AFP / MOHAMMED ABED)
Updated 12 October 2017
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Fatah and Hamas — A decade of strained ties

GAZA CITY: The Hamas-Fatah split, which has at times erupted into deadly conflict, has seen rival administrations run by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and by President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Here is a look back at the history of the dispute:
• In 2006, the leaders of Hamas take part in elections to the Palestinian Parliament for the first time, sweeping to a landslide victory over Fatah, which had dominated it since it was established.
A unity government is installed with Hamas taking key posts but it is dogged by International demands, rejected by the hard-liners, that they renounce violence and recognize Israel and past peace deals.
• In early 2007, simmering tensions between the rival factions erupt into bloody clashes in Gaza.
After a week of violence in June, Abbas dismisses the unity government and declares a state of emergency in the territory.
But Hamas fighters rout pro-Abbas forces and take control, a move the president calls a coup.
• In April 2011, Fatah and Hamas say they have reached an understanding to create an interim government to prepare for elections, but implementation is repeatedly delayed.
In January 2012, the rivals strike a prisoner exchange agreement. The following month, they agree that Abbas should lead an interim government, but the deal is disputed within Hamas and never implemented.
• In April 2014, the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas finally agree on a unity government.
It is sworn in on June 2 but fails to exercise authority over Gaza where Abbas accuses Hamas of setting up a parallel administration.
In July-August 2014, the factions put up a united front after Israel launches a 50-day blitz against Gaza in response to rocket fire, but the unity government falls apart months later.
• In May 2017, Hamas makes a major revision to its founding charter, easing its stance on Israel after having long called for its destruction.
The group says its struggle is not against Jews but against Israel as an occupier, and accepts the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.
The group — which remains blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU as well as Israel — is seen as seeking to ease its isolation without marginalizing hard-liners in its ranks.
• Tensions persist over the formation by Hamas of an “administrative committee” in Gaza which is seen as a rival Palestinian government.
Abbas puts the squeeze on Hamas including by cutting payments for electricity supplies to the territory.
An Egyptian-led reconciliation push receives a major boost when Hamas agrees on Sept. 17 to dissolve the committee and cede civil power, saying it is ready for talks on a new unity government and elections.
• In early October, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visits Gaza for the first time since 2015.
His ministers take formal control of government departments in the territory.
• On Oct. 10, the two factions open detailed reconciliation talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo.
On Oct. 12, the two sides announce they have reached a deal.
• Fatah says Abbas will visit Gaza within a month and sanctions he had imposed on the territory will soon be lifted.
Some 3,000 Palestinian Authority police officers are to redeploy to Gaza, a member of the negotiating team says.
But the two sides remain sharply at odds over the future of Hamas’s 25,000-strong armed wing, which the Gaza leaders say is non-negotiable.


Jordanian princess brings displaced Syrians’ stories to the screen

Executive Producer Princess Firyal of Jordan and Director Alexandra Shiva (photo embedded) met with the Alhalabi family during ‘This Is Home: A Refugee Story’ New York Premiere Screening at Crosby Street Hotel on May 16 in New York City. AFP
Updated 7 min 31 sec ago
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Jordanian princess brings displaced Syrians’ stories to the screen

  • The documentary opens with shots of the devastation in Homs, where the families came from, making the point that out of the more than five million refugees from Syria’s civil war, only 21,000 have been accepted into the US, 372 of them in Baltimore
  • The idea began with Princess Firyal, a board member of the International Rescue Committee and a UNESCO goodwill ambassador

DUBAI: As the world marked World Refugee Day this week with the grim news that a record 65.6 million people around the world were forcibly displaced by the end of 2016, a new documentary aims to bring home the issue by following four Syrian families trying to settle in the US.

“This Is Home: A Refugee Story,” which streams online Friday on EPIX and won a Sundance Film Festival Audience Award this year, received some high-level help from Princess Firyal of Jordan, who told Arab News that it is important the issue stays at the top of people’s minds.
“It’s always been important: Every time is a good time, but now there seems to be no focus on the refugees,” said the princess, who served as the documentary’s executive producer. “Everyone is occupied with something else. And that’s exactly the story of the refugees: One day they’re on the front page and the next they’re forgotten.”
The idea began with Princess Firyal, a board member of the International Rescue Committee and a UNESCO goodwill ambassador.
“We help the refugees in Jordan the best we can … but I thought maybe we should reach them in another way.”
So she turned to her goddaughter, the American filmmaker Alexandra Shiva. “She’s a lovely and wonderful director and she proved it,” said the princess. “I thought ‘Hey, I have an in-house situation here,’ so I called her and said, ‘This is what I want to do’… She was convinced very quickly that this is a worthy cause so we went ahead and we did it and the rest is history.”

Alexandra Shiva


The documentary opens with shots of the devastation in Homs, where the families came from, making the point that out of the more than five million refugees from Syria’s civil war, only 21,000 have been accepted into the US, 372 of them in Baltimore.
“We did it to reach people, to reach people’s hearts, to maybe try to contribute our bit and educate the masses who don’t know anything about refugees, that they are people, just like us, just very unlucky,” Princess Firyal said.
Shiva’s crew followed the families who, with the help of the IRC’s Baltimore Resettlement Center, make their way through a dizzying list of new experiences, attending English classes, medical appointments, job interviews and group therapy sessions.
“For me, the most important thing is that the movie is from the bottom up, not the top down,” said the director. “You’re in people’s lives. It’s not all refugees. It’s four families. It’s very intimate. It feels small and yet big, I hope.”
It was a challenge to gain the trust of the families to get the intimate access that she did, Shiva said.
“Meeting people when they’re in the most traumatized, fraught period of their lives is never easy and then earning their trust and having them become comfortable with me, comfortable enough to really have the camera and the crew in their kitchens and in their living rooms and in their daily lives, was probably the biggest challenge, but it worked.”
With only eight months of assistance to get settled, it feels like the odds are stacked against the families, who are coping with what they have experienced in the war while going through culture shock in a country that often shows resistance to them. Most heartbreaking are the children, who process the same experiences on a simpler level.
“What if I’m being good in school but tell them I’m from Syria? What would they say? Will they be angry with me?” one of them wonders.
But it is heartening to see Americans in the Baltimore community reach out and befriend the families, something Princess Firyal hopes more people will think about
doing.
“Above all, we’d like to highlight that people should really make an effort to learn more about the crisis, and each one of us in some way can help,” she said.
“Nobody wants to leave their home. People are forced to leave their home. We coach them, we help them, but the crisis doesn’t go away just because we don’t read about it every day in the newspaper.”
“This Is Home” airs on EPIX on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.