Negotiations: Failure with Abu Mazen, Success with Hamas

Abu Mazen's statement of having failed to bring about a breakthrough in the political process coupled with reports over a Tahdiah between Hamas and Israel, emphasizes Fatah's inability to reach its objectives in contrast to Hamas' 'political achievements'.

Last week, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen expressed disappointment with his meeting with US President Bush saying that he had failed to bring about a breakthrough and that he was returning home with "almost empty hands." He also stated that the US President has not set a timetable for the establishment of the Palestinian State and that the major obstacle to the process was the continuing building of settlements. Nonetheless, Abu Mazen committed himself to continue to meet with Prime Minister Olmert in order to try and advance the political process.

One of the Reut Institute's definition's of the 'failure of the negotiations' is the declaration by one or both sides of their inability to reach an agreement. (See: The Day after the Annapolis Summit - Preparing for the Failure of the Political Process).

Abu Mazen's statement may be the last warning before he declares the failure of the current political process. Since Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Fayyad are considered to be a Palestinian negotiation "Dream-Team", failure could further deepen existing Palestinian doubts over the possibility of reaching an agreement based on a "Two State Solution" (See Shelf Agreement: Attempts to Anchor the Two State Solution May Bury It.). Therefore, it is in Israel's interest to prevent Abu Mazen from declaring the failure of the negotiations.

Moreover, in contrast Fatah's inability to achieve its objectives, reports on the Tahdiah (lull) between Hamas and Israel emphasize Hamas' 'political achievements.' The combination between the faltering negotiations with Abu Mazen and the indirect negotiations on a ceasefire with Hamas will strengthen the 'Hamasization' of the Palestinian National Movement. From the people's perspective, these recent events prove that only Hamas can achieve results in the struggle with Israel.

In order to reduce the damage caused to Abu Mazen, Israel should consider its position on a number up coming issues in the indirect negotiations with Hamas:

  • The question of the West Bank- a ceasefire with Hamas that includes the West Bank, even at a later stage, is undermining the PA which considers itself the official Palestinian 'Sovereign.'

  • The question of the Gaza Border Crossing - it is in Israel's interest to 'revive' the PA's role in the Gaza's border crossings. This issue has both concrete (in terms of controlling the border crossings) and symbolic (in terms of Palestinian public opinion) significance.

Sources:

Issacharoff, Harel, Azoulay, Ha'aretz, 4/27/08.

Gabor Asaf, Nfc, 4/27/08.

Waked Ali, Ynet, 4/25/08.