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Reactions to Fatah-Hamas unity

News of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation provokes a mixed response
Fatah and Hamas leaders embrace in spite of Israeli anger (AFP)

Reactions have been mixed to the announcement that Fatah and Hamas are to reconcile after their seven year rift, ranging from praise to skepticism to outright condemnation.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation's Hanan Ashrawi praised the move: "National unity is a basic prerequisite for empowering the Palestinian state and people and for reinforcing means of popular resistance, including the boycott of Israeli occupation and its settlements," she told the Palestinian News and Information Agency. Ashrawi also called on Palestinians to promote the implementation of reconciliation deal. "A successful reconciliation deal requires sincere and effective will to confront and overcome challenges and obstacles as well as to embody the national unity of the Palestinian people," she added.

Nasser Ibrahim of the Alternative Information Centre, a joint Palestinian-Israeli NGO promoting justice, equality and peace, warned of entering reunification without a clear goal. "What matters is clear identification - political, social, organisational and strategic – about why we are going to reconciliation.  Here it is better to use the phrase "rebuilding national unity" as an accurate political and practical expression, and through which we can identify the principles on which this unity will be constructing," Ibrahim wrote. He emphasised the need for a national strategy on "the option of negotiations, resistance, regional and global transformations and development, the reference of the peace process, rebuilding of the PLO, the relationship between the PLO and PA and the relationship between the tasks of national liberation and social and economic requirements."

The Israeli finance minister Yeir Lapid lambasted the move. “Hamas is a jihadi terror organization that is proud of killing civilians – women, children, the elderly – just because they’re Jewish,” he told the European Jewish Congress. “If the Palestinians really want a treaty with Israel, how did they not demand from Hamas to say it is abandoning terror and committing to not hurt innocent people and to follow international law?" He argued that the new unity could rule out negotiating with the Palestinian Authority. "We don’t talk to murderers. The agreement among Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad brings the Middle East to a new diplomatic era. The Palestinian Authority turned into the largest terrorist organization in the world, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv."

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Washington was "disappointed" and "troubled" with the move and said that without a clear commitment to non-violence, "this could seriously complicate our efforts to extend the negotiations. It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist."

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said, in a statement, that there was "no incompatibility between reconciliation and the talks, especially since we are committed to a just peace on the basis of a two-state solution in accordance with the resolutions of international law." The move was, he said, was "supported by the Arab world and internationally, will strengthen the ability of the Palestinian negotiators to realize the two state solution."

The reaction on social media was also mixed, ranging from skepticism:

 . . . to praise: 

. . . to outrage:

  . . . to satire.