But experts say that progress is unlikely since nothing has changed on the ground and the factions only agreed to meet to show respect to the Algerian government
Leaders of Palestinian factions began two days of rare talks in Algeria under the auspices of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in a show of unity among Palestinian groups and a bid to reconcile ahead of the upcoming Arab League summit.
Thirteen Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Tuesday took another stab at a national dialogue.
Hamas officials insist that the movement is taking the gathering in the North African Arab state very seriously.
The two days of talks follow several other meetings since Algeria launched its initiative in January to mediate between the Palestinian factions. Previous attempts by other Arab states to help the Palestinians reach reconciliation have failed to make a breakthrough, with each side blaming the other for the political impasse.
I think it’s just for getting very good photos paying courtesy to the Algerian officials for their supportive role to the Palestinian people
Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Hussein Al-Sheikh tweeted: “The Palestinian national dialogue in Algeria constitutes a serious and available opportunity to unite the national ranks and protect our internal front and unity of word and deed under the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of our people.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad said the movement praises the Algerian efforts to end the internal Palestinian division.
In July, the Algerian president played host to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau.
Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’ Fatah in 2007 in a bloody battle that divided the Palestinians politically and geographically.
Mosheer Amer, a Gaza-based political analyst, told The Media Line that he does not believe that the two-day meeting will lead to a breakthrough.
“To be honest, I’m not really hopeful for a meaningful outcome,” Amer said. “I think it’s just for getting very good photos paying courtesy to the Algerian officials for their supportive role to the Palestinian people.”
Algeria has a good relationship with all of the Palestinian factions, and accepting the invitation to meet in Algiers is just a “goodwill gesture” on behalf of the Palestinians toward Algeria, he said.
“In practical terms I don’t see that there will be any prospect for a successful outcome. The issue is that there have been a lot of meetings between Fatah and Hamas over the past years, but the issue is that the Palestinian Authority has commitments in line with the Oslo agreements, and intensive security collaboration with the Israeli occupation state, and this prevents it from any kind of tangible reconciliation with Palestinian factions, mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” according to Amer.
The gap between the Fatah-controlled PA and other groups is deep, because each party has a different political agenda.
“The Palestinian factions proclaim the issue of resistance against the occupation, and they adopt a program for all kinds of resistance, including armed resistance, something that President Abbas has rejected,” he said.
Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September, where he reaffirmed his position on the peace process as the only way forward.
“We will not resort to weapons, we will not resort to violence, we will not resort to terrorism. We will fight terrorism hand-in-hand with you, but protect us from violence, like you do for other occupied peoples of this world,” said Abbas.
“The PA leadership is adopting what is called a ‘peace process commitment’ emanating from the Oslo Accords, which boils down to security collaboration with Israeli occupation; in that respect there won’t be any positive results now or in the future unless the PA leadership changes course,” Amer said.
He says Abbas has no intention to reform the Palestinian political system including the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“The Palestinian leadership wants to maintain the status quo in relation to its control of the PLO – it refuses to hold Palestinian elections and refuses to reform the political house,” he added.
Ahmad Rafiq Awad, president of the Center for Jerusalem Studies at Al-Quds University, told The Media Line that the reason for the factions’ attendance is to show respect to the Algerian government.
“The chance of any positive results is low because nothing has changed on the ground and there has been no breakthrough or agreement on the points of contention between the two parties,” he said, referring to Fatah and Hamas.
Rafiq Awad says that Algeria, as a state sponsor of this dialogue, cannot offer much more than a venue.
“It cannot impose any solutions on any party. It cannot get ahead of other regional parties,” he said.
Another reason the factions have for showing up, Rafiq Awad says, is to appease the Palestinian street, which is now boiling and demanding national unity.
“Part of the reason for the factions’ acceptance to attend is to ease the street’s anger against them and to try to absorb the sharp criticism they face and accusations of failing to manage things,” he said.
The most that can be achieved is the establishment of a Palestinian committee to follow up on matters, which is a superficial step that does not advance or delay
Egypt is one of the regional parties with an interest in fostering Palestinian reconciliation that Rafiq Awad is talking about.
Rafiq Awad says the top two factions have their eye on taking control of the Palestinian Authority.
He explains: “The big difference is over the division of power between them. Do they agree on a political partnership in certain proportions, or inheritance?”
“That is why the chance of this dialogue being successful is slim to none,” he said.
However, Rafiq Awad says gatherings such as the one this week in Algeria will not yield much.
“The most that can be achieved is the establishment of a Palestinian committee to follow up on matters, which is a superficial step that does not advance or delay,” he said.
Source : The Medialine