We Will Soon See What the Word “Unity” Means for the Palestinian People

“Unity” is the most misused and misunderstood word in Arabic. “Ittihad”. Every dictatorship, every nation in the Middle East must believe in “ittihad”. And the Palestinans – the poor, divided Palestinians more than all others.

For years they have been torn apart between Hamas and Fatah, between Islamism (if you believe in such a thing) and the Palestinian Authority, between Islamic rule – again, if you believe in this – and secular authority. And when Mahmoud Abbas was called by the United States to be told of America’s “concern” that Hamas would be involved in such a government, you knew there would be a problem.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, of course, that ‘Abu Mazen’ (Mahmoud Abbas) had said “Yes to terrorism and no to peace.” This was ridiculous. If Abbas has managed to bring Hamas to heel – through financial threats – then the old PLO of Yassir Arafat has been re-created once more.

Netanyahu will have to talk to the Fatah-led PLO and will have to return to the ‘peace treaty’ in which the West (and Tony Blair, remember him?) believed. Far from “terror”, Gaza will belong to the Palestinian Authority, in which Israeli leaders claimed they believed. Well, we shall see.

The real question is: do the Israelis want peace with the Palestinians? Or do they want the land of the West Bank? If the latter is the case, then the Netanyahu government will refuse to accept a new PLO-Hamas accord.

They will say – and the Trump regime will follow suite – that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, and that Israel has no-one to negotiate with. At which point, they must decide whether they want to run an apartheid state in the West Bank (no votes for Arabs) or an Israel which is not democratic.

Read any of the recent articles by Uri Avnery, if you want to find out. He is a great Israeli philosopher, a wonderful writer, a true messiah, a leader of his people – if they will listen to him.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared.