Islamic militant group Hamas has agreed to cede control of the Gaza Strip in what some believe is a major step forward to achieve peace and unity in the area. The group is due to hand over control to the Palestinian authority (PA), led by its rival Fatah party, in December.
Although a total disarmament of Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is off the table at the moment, some see recent progress as a major step towards stability in the Palestinian territories.
However, a final reconciliation brokered by Egypt between the two organizations is no indication that an agreed peace process for a long-awaited solution to the Israel-Palestine crisis will be achieved.
A reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah achieving a total disarmament of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, and the formation of a Palestinian West Bank-led government, will amount to a glorious victory for Israel’s security and political stability, at least for the short term.
Hamas is Israel’s worst nightmare in the Gaza Strip and this has been made even worse by the influx of jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Muslim Brotherhood, which have taken refuge in the Gaza Strip and collaborate with Hamas, launching attacks against Israel interests in and beyond the region.
For Israel, if Hamas ceases to be in control of the Gaza strip, all existing support networks with independent jihadist groups or those linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar or Iran will be disabled—but not permanently.
If Hamas has any dealings and links with jihadist groups and receives any kind of material support from Qatar and Iran, a reconciliation with Fatah will not affect those connections. The form may change, but the substance will remain intact.
In strategic warfare, it is far better for Israel to have one united enemy to worry about, than to have two rival factions in one geographic space to deal with.
However, the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah could amount to a building political storm for Palestinians with all the potential towards a peaceful solution for a united Palestine, but little to show as evidence of a peaceful solution process with Israel.
Hamas’ reconciliation with Fatah aims to achieve one Palestinian cause. It is helpful for Israel to have only one voice to speak to, but any reconciliation between Israel and Palestine will be on its own merit. It could very well happen that both organizations refuse a negotiation with Israel, even though they are united.
The Israel-Palestine peace process has different implications. Whether it helps if Hamas and Fatah are united is not a discussion for now.
David Otto is the Director of TGS Intelligence Consultants Ltd and the Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism Programme – Step In Step Out (SISO) – based in the United Kingdom. He is also Senior Counter Terrorism Advisor for Global Risk International.