Unity agreement signed in Mecca marks a major victory for Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas did not relinquish its rule or ideology, did not recognize Israel or renounce terror and did not agree to acknowledge past agreements with Israel. In return for this inflexible stance it received the unity government that it wanted so much.
The organization wanted Fatah's participation in the new government so as not to bear sole responsibility for the economic, social and political failures in the Authority and to gain the legitimacy to remain in power and continue instilling fundamental values in Palestinian society.
In Mecca Hamas won the jackpot. The agreement, along with millions of dollars from the Saudi king, will help Hamas recover from its economic crisis, strengthen its hold on government and arrive at the next elections in a position to win the presidency as well as the elections for the Legislative Council.
And what if the unity government collapses? Hamas still has nothing to lose. If the bogus partnership should fall apart - and this may happen rather quickly the blame will fall on Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, not only in the PA but in the entire Arab world as well.
Mecca's sanctity, coupled with Saudi king's efforts, was not enough to bridge the gap between Islamist Hamas and the nationalist Fatah organization. It was Abbas who eventually backed down when he agreed to establish a unity government before drafting its guidelines.
Abbas' body language on Thursday testified to the disagreements and to the fact that he understands that the Saudis and Hamas have trapped him.
The important question as far as Israel is concerned is whether the agreement would accelerate Gilad Shalit's return home. Abbas demanded his release as a condition, but it appears that as long as the government is not established, Hamas will continue to take advantage of Gilad Shalit as a bargaining chip in its battle against Fatah.
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