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Policy Paper: “National Reconciliation and Peace with Israel Are Complementary Not Contradictory”

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Background:

In January 2006, Palestinian territories held its second parliamentary elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Fatah, still at the helm of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), was keen to continue its governance using the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Islamic Resistance or Hamas that had boycotted the elections of the PLC in 1996 entered electoral politics for the first time in Palestine. While most estimates claimed that Fatah would continue its dominance of electoral politics, Hamas emerged victorious in 2006. As a response, the 2006-2007 period saw serious hostilities emerging between Hamas and Fatah. Surprised by its own success, Hamas offered to form a unity government with Fatah but the latter disagreed. Furthermore, Fatah-affiliated public servants refused to return to their employment at the PA thus requiring the newly founded Hamas to replace the entire public sector. Finally, bloody clashes ensued between Hamas and PA security forces loyal to the losing party, Fatah.  In June 2007, Hamas comprehensively took control over the Gaza Strip and ousted the Fatah-led PA forces, which subsequently left Gaza to the West Bank. At that point, a complete political and economic blockade of the Gaza Strip began. Israel and Egypt closed their borders with the Strip completely and allowed only the bare minimum of goods into the territory that was essential for survival. Most international organizations refused to have direct contact with the PA Authorities in the Gaza Strip thus causing real complexity in aid delivery. Limited access to resources and infrastructural materials has also meant the almost complete dismantlement of the Strip’s economy. Additionally, from December 2008 to January 2009, Israel launched a war against Gaza– Operation Cast Lead– that claimed the lives of 1,417 Palestinians, one third of whom were children. This was followed by a brief calm but lapsed into occasional escalations. Ceasefire was finally concluded following Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

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