July 21, 2022 | The Times of Israel

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation attempts are DOA

The recent Abbas-Haniyeh handshake signifies the desperate state of both Palestinian factions – as well as of their Algerian hosts
July 21, 2022 | The Times of Israel

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation attempts are DOA

The recent Abbas-Haniyeh handshake signifies the desperate state of both Palestinian factions – as well as of their Algerian hosts

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his country’s independence from France, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune brought together Mahmoud Abbas, president of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Ismael Haniyeh, the Hamas politburo chief. In their first meeting in several years, the rivals shook hands for the cameras, encouraging speculation that Hamas and Fatah were prepared to reconcile. But that is doubtful. The more plausible explanation for the show of goodwill in Algiers is that the PA owes a  substantial debt to Algeria and Hamas wants to stay relevant as Sunni Arab states increasingly normalize ties with Israel.

Relations between Abbas and Haniyeh have been frosty since the civil war in Gaza in 2007, during which Hamas operatives summarily executed close to 100 Fatah operatives and tortured numerous others. Yet Algeria remains on good terms with both sides and has been a steadfast financial supporter of the PA, even while other Arab nations have ceased their donations.

Last December, during an Abbas visit to Algeria, Tebboune announced the launch of Palestinian reconciliation efforts. To sweeten the deal for the Fatah leader, Tebboune pledged $100 million to the PA.

As its support wanes in Arab capitals, Hamas is desperate for the spotlight

In January, Algeria hosted the first round of reconciliation talks with six factions participating, including Fatah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Additional rounds followed in March and then earlier this month. Hamas and PIJ are tied closely to the Iranian regime, while Abbas has often relied on US support, despite a tumultuous relationship with Washington.

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Arab Politics Israel Palestinian Politics