The Fatah and Hamas factions of the Palestinian people have come to an understanding on a pact to unify the factions. Mahmoud Abbas will continue to be the chief executive for the interim, supported by an independently elected cabinet until full elections can be organized.
This surprising move brings the Gaza Palestinians and the West Bank Palestinians together.
Understandably, the Arab street as reflected by its press, is uncertain. Note in particular the Israeli reactions.
I suppose there's good reason. When they aren't squaring off against Israeli forces, the two factions have been at each other's throats. This is not conducive to settling the larger issues at hand.
But here's the thing: a divided Palestinian people is actually in the best interests of many of the more strident regimes in the region, like Syria and Iran and yes, Israel, who can focus attention on the Israeli conflicts while minimizing the internal strife as just frustration with the "Zionist oppression of Israel," or some such conflated attitude. For Israel's part, the strife merely serves to support their claim that, so long as Hamas is a disruptive force, Israel's existence is threatened, so why should he deal fairly with the Palestinian Authority?
And yet, interestingly enough, Hamas' leadership in exile in Syria all left that country (the last departed yesterday) to head for Israel, under the guise of security from that nation's uprisings.
Sounds like a cover story to me. It's possible that Syria may have undermined Hamas' position as opposed to Fatah (although I admit that's pure speculation, and I really don't have a particular body of evidence to point to). It's also possible that Hamas has started to cozy up to Iran, which would explain the collapse of Syrian safety.
Naturally, Bejamin Netanyahu has begun sabre rattling over the deal, all but threatening Abbas with an "either you're with us, or with the terrorists" posture.
And yet, it was Netanyahu himself who insisted on a unified Authority before Israel would sit down and negotiate in good faith.
Mr. Netanyahu, peace is not for haggling. It is not sold in the open market like a carpet or a pound of meat. Sit down, and shut up now.