Palestinian Crisis/ One State for One People

The victory shouts of Hamas in Gaza and the hastily established emergency government in the West Bank ostensibly strengthen the impression that the Palestinians' land will really be divided: the West Bank to Fatah and Gaza to Hamas.

This is also the reason for the haste with which Washington and Israel are willing to grant the emergency government favors it was not wise enough to give before the 2006 elections, not to mention afterward. It is as if they too were hurrying to celebrate the division between "heaven" and "hell" and to show the citizens of Palestine how much they had lost by voting for Hamas.

But it seems that the celebrations are premature because Gaza cannot disconnect from the West Bank. Anyone who still sees Oslo as a basis for continued formal cooperation with the PA - and such cooperation cannot exist without it - must see Gaza and the West Bank as one unit. The link between Gaza and the West Bank is a link of cooperation in the vision of Palestinian nationhood. That is the basis on which Hamas built its struggle against Israel and its later partnership with Fatah.

The two intifadas, in 1987 and 2000, catapulted Hamas from a welfare movement motivated by religious ideology to a national movement whose aspirations resemble those of Fatah or the Palestine Liberation Organization, and whose methods are no different than those of Fatah.

Thus, giving "ownership" of a Palestinian region to any movement is seen immediately as treason against the Palestinian cause. All the more when one region would enjoy the status of an Israeli-American protege and the other lacked such status or was subservient to Iran, as Fatah is currently seeking to present Gaza.

Practically speaking as well, Salam Fayad's new government cannot adopt a policy of discrimination or isolation toward the Gaza Strip only because Hamas controls it; it would then be considered as having adopted Israeli policy. Moreover, the emergency government he established cannot function for long without the approval of the Palestinian parliament, many of whose members are Hamas members incarcerated in Israel. And if the emergency government does not receive parliamentary approval within 60 days, it will be considered illegal.

The Fayad government and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will soon have to find the means to coordinate with Hamas' civilian leadership to restore normalcy to Gaza. The Hamas leadership also understood by the weekend that it cannot disengage from the PA; it would abrogate the aspiration for a united and greater Palestinian state. Thus the joint commitment to a common national struggle and the need to share a common treasury might now ease efforts to establish a unity government led by a man who would not dare call for new elections.

The question now is how to get the sides to sit at the same table. There may be no choice but to involve Egypt and the Saudis, and perhaps even Iran and Syria to build an improved Mecca agreement.