At a meeting with Palestinian groups, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of the Hamas Movement, accepted a proposal to resolve differences and achieve national unity. “We declare the support of the Hamas Movement for the unity initiative plan and the end of differences as proposed by the Palestinian groups,” Haniyeh said at the meeting. “We are giving Palestinian groups all the means to implement this plan, and we hope that the Fatah Movement will agree to it.”

Hassan Hanizadeh, an expert on regional issues, has discussed the plan, its obstacles and prospects in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.

Q: How do you assess the national reconciliation plan between Fatah and Hamas at the present juncture?

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas political bureau chief raised the issue of national reconciliation under conditions that the internal situation in Palestine and efforts by the reactionary Arab regimes to establish relations with Israel have turned increasingly critical. On the other hand, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to re-occupy the West Bank has created quite difficult conditions for Palestine. For this reason, and given that the PA has been politically isolated after years of fruitless negotiations with the Zionist regime, the reasonable solution is for all Palestinian political currents to abandon their differences and form a common front to confront the Zionist hegemony. For this reason, Ismail Haniyeh raised the issue of national reconciliation as a new strategy to confront the Tel Aviv regime.

Q: To what extent did the ‘Deal of the Century’ and behind-the-scene goals make Palestinian groups think of national reconciliation?

The issue of the ‘Deal of the Century’ is a very important experience the Palestinian people have been facing for the last two years. If the Palestinian political currents had not taken a coordinated stance against the plan it would undoubtedly be implemented and would have paved the way for an end to the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority.

So was it not for the massive demonstrations of the Palestinian people and the persistence of some Islamic countries like Iran and Iraq to counter the Deal of the Century it would have been operational now and the question of forming an independent Palestinian state would have been marginalized. The Deal of the Century also raised the need for unity among the Palestinian groups.

Q: What are the obstacles to achieving a national reconciliation plan?

Undoubtedly, regional and international actors will try again to divide the two movements. Former Palestinian National Security Minister Mohammad Dahlan’s attempt to seize power is considered a serious threat to national reconciliation.

Dahlan is trying to divide the two currents and he is close to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. So Dahlan is trying to seize power in the occupied territories as a third force.

Q: Could the differences of outlooks between Fatah and Hamas towards some regional countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, be an obstacle to national reconciliation?

The Fatah Movement seeks to use the capacity of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and the United States to maintain its sovereignty, while Hamas has come to the conclusion that these countries cannot help but resolve the Palestinian crisis. Therefore, these different positions and the interference of foreign countries may create obstacles to national reconciliation, as reactionary regimes do not want reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Q: What are the prospects for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation?

Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has always been an issue for the past two decades, and whenever the Fatah Movement faced domestic and international challenges it tended to reconcile with Hamas. Relations between the two major political currents have gone through many ups and downs but the condition of the occupied territories today are different from that of the past and national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is expected to be more robust this time.