First off – A well wish for the British Royal Wedding couple today – along with all the other good ceremonies of matrimony happening anywhere else in the world – each is special!
Chuck wanted an update on the Hamas/Fatah reconciliation – so here it goes…
Two nights ago Fatah and Hamas signed a historic agreement to end clashes and get their parties en route to a unity government.
Israel's response just hours after was simple; The Palestinian Authority needs to choose – peace with us (Israel) or peace with Hamas.
Israel's concern: Hamas will ultimately control the whole of the West Bank. The talking heads are saying that Fatah has proven that it is not a partner for making peace as it is going with Hamas, whose goal is to 'destroy' Israel.
But now the pressure is off Israel to negotiate a peace deal because the accord between Fatah and Hamas lays waste to the idea of pressuring Israel into making concessions and carrying out withdrawals.
What's at the core of this historic and surprising reconciliation and what brought it about in Cairo? Essentially, the agreement sets out a temporary joint government and elections within a year. This maneuver by the Palestinians is seen by some as raising the stakes in the quest for Statehood declaration, as the agreement paves the way to international recognition of a Palestinian state.
Most all Palestinian sources claim that Hamas has not changed its positions. It seems that the Palestinian Authority and the new Egyptian regime agreed to show some flexibility in order to reopen the reconciliation effort and accept Hamas's stipulations.
What does the US administration think of this new development? So far it has expressed reservations but indicated that it favors reconciliation – on condition that Hamas recognizes Israel. Regarding the unilateral declaration, the assessment is that a unity government that includes Hamas will make it harder for Mr. Abbas to win United Nations recognition.
Some in the administration are still studying the material. Pro-Israel lobbyists and members of Congress are already pressing to have the US funding of the Palestinian Authority. Interestingly, back in 2009, Secretary Clinton made it clear: “We will not finance a government that includes Hamas.”
Now what's Hamas said? They are saying the same thing they've always said, that they will neither recognize Israel nor negotiate with it. Interestingly they have also said that they have no intention of participating in the diplomatic process during the transitional government.
In closing, there is one ray of potential light in all this, Israel hopes that this agreement will advance a deal to free it's captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
Middle East Correspondent