Palestinian Delegation on Reconciliation
“European support for Palestinian reconciliation needed”
From February 27 to March 2nd the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Ramallah co-sponsored a delegation of Palestinian experts to Berlin and Brussels to discuss latest developments in the Palestinian reconciliation process. The aim of the trip was to provide European Policy makers with a better understanding of internal Palestinian politics, as well as to advocate for a more constructive European response to the reconciliation process.
The group included Hani al-Masri and Khalil Shahin from the Ramallah based Think Tank Masarat, the founder and director of Filastiniyat, Wafa Ab dar-Rahman and the writer and PNC-member Faiha Abdulhadi. The delegation met with Policy makers, Thinks Tanks and Members of Parliament in Berlin and Brussels. In Berlin the group took part in a discussion moderated by HBS office director René Wildangel.
In the event, the group argued that any political process and legitimacy will be hard to reach without putting recent reconciliation efforts into practice.
Ever since the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections and the decision of the EU and US not to recognize the result and to boycott the Hamas government, domestic politics in Palestine have been increasingly fragmented. After the violent clashes between Hamas and Fatah forces in summer 2007, Gaza and the West Bank have been quickly growing apart with the establishment of two separate de-facto administrations. The Gaza Strip remains politically and economically isolated under Israeli closure, and reconstruction after the destructive war of 2007 has not even begun. And without new elections the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is waning. The regional changes, the recent Doha agreement and a new approach by some Hamas leaders who recognize the 1967 border and the importance of non-violent resistance may bare an opportunity for change.
“Both main Palestinian factions have realized that their strategies have not worked”, Hani al-Masri said. Hamas’ military resistance has failed. And Fatah is stuck in the Oslo process without progress and is perceived as failed in its policies to. Only reconciliation can provide a return to a legitimate, democratic political process.” While this process is a Palestinian process, the group argued that without a positive response from Europe and an active encouragement of reconciliation real success will be difficult. For instance, organizing and holding elections, a key cornerstone of the implementation of the reconciliation process, will be impossible without strong European support. The group also underlined that now most Palestinians advocate for non-violent resistance and a new, democratic approach to ending the occupation.