Russian pundit argues Palestinian reconciliation "will not bring peace"

Text of report by the website of pro-government Russian newspaper Izvestiya on 28 April

[Report by Yekaterina Zabrodina: "Hamas is inevitable. Warring groupings unite in Palestine"]

Sensational news has arrived from the Near East. The warring Palestinian groupings – Fatah on the West Bank of the Jordan and Hamas in the Gaza Strip – are ready for a reconciliation. What is this: A breakthrough on the path of the peace process or a threat of new exacerbation in the region?

Cairo has traditionally acted as an intermediary in talks. The new Egyptian authorities have succeeded in pushing the implacable enemies into each other’s arms, although previous attempts were not crowned with success. An agreement between Fatah and Hamas will be signed in Cairo at the beginning of May. The sides have agreed to create a transitional government, to hold general elections before the end of the year, and to form a single leadership. An end will be put to the split, which has lasted since July 2007. Up until now it has been called the chief obstacle to talks with Israel. But people there have not been gladdened by the news.

Premier Binyamin Netanyahu declared: Mahmud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian [National] Authority, will have to choose between Hamas and peace with the Israelis. According to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, his country will not talk with a Palestinian government that "includes terrorists."

Izvestiya’s experts are also sceptical. "It is obvious that the radicalization of Fatah will take place," Georgiy Mirskiy, chief scientific associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences World Economy and International Relations Institute, told Izvestiya. "They are certainly not gambling on there being a breakthrough in the peace process, which is already a fiction. Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel. If people in Gaza were to declare that they will stop shelling Israeli territories and that there will not be a new intifadah, then this would no longer be Hamas: It would have lost all its trump cards. In addition, it is naive to assume that the mutual hatred between Hamas and Fatah has suddenly disappeared. This is a purely pragmatic move – to create the illusion that the Palestinians have become brothers. Then, in September, they will be able to raise with the UN General Assembly the question of unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state. But it is one thing to recognize a virtual state and another to reckon that Israel will agree to this."

The deal in Cairo spells Fatah’s funeral and Abbas’ total surrender to Hamas, and this will not bring peace to the region, Yevgeniy Satanovskiy, president of the Near East Institute, is certain. "Abbas is left with no choice but to hand over by September 2011, when Nobel Prize Winner Barack Obama has planned the creation of the Palestinian state," the expert is certain. "Hamas is the only real force capable of taking over. It is prepared to fight Israel until it destroys it. Admittedly, nobody has abolished double standards, and the United States and the EU will, if necessary, recognize Hamas. But it must be realized that this is one more failure for American policy in the region. That there will be no state that is prepared to live side by side with Israel in the world. Islamist radicals will crush everyone in the elections: There will be one big Hamas with all the ensuing consequences for the region." According to Yevgeniy Satanovskiy’s predictions, the first casualty will be King Abdallah’s regime in Jordan, where there is a strong Muslim Brotherhood faction in parliament. Next, the opening of the border between Egypt and Gaza and new arms deliveries to the militants are inevitable. "The change of regime in Cairo has undoubtedly encouraged Hamas," Izvestiya’s interlocutor is in no doubt.

However, people on Smolensk Square [address of Russian Foreign Ministry] are in no hurry to lay it on thick. "Moscow has received this report with satisfaction," Aleksey Sazonov, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy official spokesman, declared. "We believe that in the event of inter-Palestinian accords being reached, they will give a new boost to the Near East peace process."

Source: Izvestiya website, Moscow, in Russian 28 Apr 11


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