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Reaction to the PA-Hamas Merger
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Reaction to the PA-Hamas Merger

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The bottom line here is that no one can dictate to one political entity what it perceives to be in its best interest. Others do not need to accept, recognize, or in any way do business with it, but the merger between Hamas and the PA can and will only be stopped by the parties to the agreement. If they indeed are reconciled, which is highly unlikely, than it is also very likely that eventually Israel will learn to live with the new Palestinian entity and do business with it; as it did with the PLO.

Like the Egypt-Syria’s United Arab Republic from 1958-1961, which disappeared after Syria’s withdrawal, this new arrangement—as currently constituted– has more holes in it than a piece of cheesecloth and will not last very long.  In the off-chance that it might mark a change in the region, the international community’s response to the reconciliation agreement is not off the mark. By the same token, Israel’s response is understandable as well, but much more bluster than substance.

This new entity has much to prove, but so far has mouthed the words that the world wanted to hear about Israel’s right to exist, renunciation of terrorism, and acceptance of prior agreements. Yes, they have yet to be uttered by Hamas leaders, but the direction so far is more advanced than had been expected or assumed.  For the U.S. and Obama/Kerry in particular, their reaction may well not be to Israel’s liking, but it appears to be positive yet appropriately cautious and tentative. 

Israeli indignation, disappointment, and frustration, while understandable needs to be very quickly tempered as they and the world watches what develops. Israel has correctly raised many legitimate questions about the character of the Government of technocrats led by the PA leaders, but only time will tell whether there is a potential for dialogue.

If Netanyahu had a better relationship with the Obama team and was not constantly rubbing them the wrong way, he might well have been convinced to have taken a more moderate position to the reconciliation agreement; because Bibi might have been led to understand or accept the U.S. Government’s thinking.  If he felt politically confident among his own Government—assuming he wanted to do so which is not at all clear—Bibi well might have chosen not to be so dogmatic or negative. It seems that Netanyahu persists in not accepting the fact that Israel truly holds so many trump cards that he can lead from strength and need not appear to be cowered by an event that has much to prove about its viability.

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