I woke up this morning to a piece of good news from Cairo; Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement on the return of the Palestinian National Authority (commonly referred to as the PA) to Gaza. Indeed, any agreement between Fatah and Hamas should usually be received with optimism by most Palestinians.
However, there is one serious problem in that regard. This is the umpteenth agreement between Fatah and Hamas about the return of the PA to Gaza for the purposes of providing basic services to the general public and organizing general elections; both presidential and legislative. None of the previous agreements was implemented and the proof is in the very fact that the two parties (Fatah and Hamas) continue to have more meetings and reach new “agreements” but nothing changes on the ground.
If you ask an ordinary Palestinian in Gaza about Fatah and Hamas, you would most likely be told that ordinary people do not give a damn about who is in charge. Palestinians in Gaza want their lives to go back to normalcy and they do not care whether Fatah, Hamas, or anyone else is in charge of the Rafah Border Crossing to Egypt or organizing the traffic in the streets of Gaza. If you insist on an answer, you would probably hear an Arab saying: “Shahab-Uddini Adhrattu Min Akheeh – شهاب الدين أضرط من أخيه” which is an old saying that is not commonly used in polite company, but it conveys the meaning that both brothers are cut from the same stinky cloth.
That saying (about Shahab-Uddini and his brother) will continue to be used in describing how ordinary Palestinians feel about Fatah and Hamas until the leadership in both political parties get their act together and remember that their very existence in government is for the purpose of serving the people and not to rule over them. As I once said to a high ranking “leader”, who was visiting Ottawa a few years back: “if you (Fatah and Hamas) do not find a way to reconcile your differences, the Palestinian people will reject both of you, fire you both, and create an alternative leadership to serve the people and lead the struggle for liberty and equality.” That brother’s response was more severe attacks on the other “brother” putting the entire blame for lack of reconciliation on the shoulders of the leadership of that other “brother”. As far as he was concerned, he and his party were perfect; they could do no wrong even if they wanted to, and the entire blame was on the other side. And the saga continues; both Fatah and Hamas claim they want national reconciliation and unity, but neither moves with practical steps beyond declaring an agreement about national reconciliation every few months.
Many Palestinians believe that neither Fatah nor Hamas truly want national reconciliation, and that they both lie by claiming they do for public relations purposes only. Unfortunately, actual results on the ground serve to reinforce that belief among many Palestinians. Nevertheless, Fatah and Hamas continue to claim the same thing, and continue to announce agreements on matters that, if implemented, would actually lead to Palestinian national reconciliation. The word “agreement” is good, but it is not enough and the magic word remains “implementation”.
As the English proverb goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. I will believe it when I witness the agreements implemented and when I see the change on the ground. Until then, I hope that those so-called “political leaders” would gain a little wisdom and stop their fake announcements of agreements that they do not intend to implement. Such acts only lead to more frustration, cynicism, and loss of hope among ordinary Palestinians. More importantly, I hope they will do the right thing and set aside their partisan differences, fears, suspicions, and mistrusts; and focus on the needs, hopes, and aspirations of ordinary Palestinians. If they do; they both and the people win. If they do not; they lose and the people will replace them and find other ways, means, and alternative leadership to continue the very-long-term struggle for justice-based peace, liberty, and human equality for all.
Hope is the stuff from which life is made!