RAMALLAH, Novemeber 9 (JMCC) - Hamas and Fatah have resumed reconciliation talks in a bid to heal the rift that has led to a split leadership between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Past meetings have failed to unit the groups whose differences have brought the greatest schism in Palestinian history.
But unity must be achieved as a pre-requisite to the much needed new elections. Without it, free and fair elections will be difficult to secure.
Alongside reconciliation of the political agenda, there remains one of human rights. Both Hamas – through the deposed government in Gaza - and Fatah - through the PA – have been increasingly accused of inflicting human rights abuse on Palestinians, often against each other.
Hardly a month passes without Palestinian and international human rights organisations complaining of abuses being committed by one or both sides of the feud. Hamas can justifiably accuse the PA of suppressing its members in the West Bank to appease Israeli security demands, while Fatah can rightly accuse Hamas of repressing its members in Gaza. But neither security concerns, nor claims to represent the Palestinian resistance can justify human rights violations. Read
Hamas, just like the PA, has arrested people for engaging in resistance against Israel, although it argues that its case is different because it has no security agreements with Israel. But suppression is suppression regardless of who carries it out and it is clear that Hamas is trying to send a message to Israel that it, not Fatah, controls security.
All but a few Palestinian writers and bloggers have failed to hold both parties accountable for these abuses, focusing instead on exposing one while ignoring the other. But an activist or writer should be able to fully support Hamas or Fatah, depending on their own political standing, while remaining committed to human rights and holding a mirror to their own party.
Both parties are participating in a process of self-destruction as long as they continue to ignore the human rights of the people they are competing to represent.
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