Photo Credit: Palestinian Press Office
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (right) shakes hands with 2007 Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, during negotiations for a unity government.

{Originally posted to the Jewish Center for Public Affairs website}

The Hamas-Fatah unity agreement could, in principle, be seen to be a positive development in the general framework of the Middle East peace process.

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However, such a positive development, to be meaningful and to signal genuine momentum, would have to fulfill two very basic tenets laying at the foundation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The first is that the general aim of the unification must be to enable a responsible and unified Palestinian leadership, speaking with one voice and duly empowered, to further the peace negotiation process. This aim must be publicly declared and acknowledged by all Palestinian factions.

If to the contrary, the aim of the unification is to enhance and consolidate Palestinian opposition to peaceful coexistence with Israel, through enabling Hamas to retain its armed capabilities and to continue its belligerency through terror tunnels, rockets, and acts of terror, then this unification will be flawed, false, and misleading.  It will undermine international efforts at reconciliation and negotiation.

The second basic tenet of such unification must be to openly reaffirm the already existing and valid Palestinian commitments vis-a-vis Israel and the international community, signatories as witnesses to the Oslo Accords.

Oslo Accords Signed by the PLO Contains Commitments

Such commitments, set out in detail in the Oslo Accords, include ending terror, incitement, boycott, and international attempts to by-pass the negotiating process.

Above all, they require dismantling all terror groups and infrastructures. They necessitate a return to economic and security cooperation and a positive negotiating mode.

They require terminating all activities aimed at undermining mutual good faith and reconciliation, such as the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) campaign and attempts to de-legitimize Israel and its leaders in national and international courts and tribunals.

The Palestinian Authority also has its own obligation to cease supporting terrorists and their families with salaries and welfare payments.

Since the present unification does not fully fulfill these two basic tenets, it cannot be acceptable to the international community and not to Israel.

Before naively and blindly welcoming any such inter-Palestinian unification, serious international leaders, including the UN Secretary-General, European governments, and others, should insist and ascertain that the basic components for positive unification are included in any unification agreement.

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