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Sustaining Palestinian Division, Reviving a Partner

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Saving a Palestinian partner, whom they have rejected until Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June, has become the most important mission preoccupying the U.S. Administration and the Israeli government, a mission which nonetheless Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is taking seriously, against all the odds, pursuing a “hope” that their preoccupation could yet be a window of opportunity to revive serious Palestinian – Israeli peace negotiations and break through the siege imposed on him and his people by the both deadlocked inter-Palestinian and the peace process crises. 

While all media attention is focused on Hamas in the tightly sealed off Gaza Strip, the real battle of the inter-Palestinian political strife is being fought in the West Bank, where Israeli and American efforts are trying to secure the survival of the Fatah – led Palestinian Authority (PA) and preempt the repetition of the scenario that left Hamas in control of the besieged Mediterranean coastal strip. 

Betting the survival of the PA as well as his own presidency on a faint hope that the U.S. Administration might deliver on their promises to revive the peace process with Israel, Abbas is risking a Palestinian infighting in his power base in the Israeli occupied West Bank in the hope that the continued outbreak with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and outlawing their military wings could help international friends to convince Israel to translate the “diplomatic process” he is conducting with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into an honest and serious negotiations over the final status issues, the only diversion to the prevailing status quo that could spare the West Bank a flare up of violence. 

In spite of all his reservations on U.S. President George W. Bush’s vague proposal for an international conference in the fall to revive the peace talks, to which neither he nor other potential participants have yet received any invitation, Abbas seems desperately determined to pursue his faint hope that the world community might yet intervene to make something out of the November event. His Fatah-led PA is similarly optimistic on betting all on the outcome of the coming gathering, which nothing concrete has leaked so far to support its success prospects to vindicate their optimism or to dispel the pessimistic expectations of the overwhelming majority of Palestinian, Israeli and Western observers. 

Reviving a Partner 

On July 16, Bush set off a flurry of diplomatic motion when he proposed to hold a conference this fall to help resume the Palestinian - Israeli peace talks, deadlocked since the collapse of the trilateral Camp David summit meeting late in 2000, but so far this diplomatic flurry has been much ado about nothing. The aim of this diplomatic flurry is to lay the ground for a successful conclusion of the proposed international gathering. However the Bush administration’s refusal over several years to bring serious attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict has ranked high; Bush’s proposed conference is promising to change nothing. 

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
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