Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani (C), acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Hamas Political Bureau chief Khaled Meshaal attend a meeting in Doha, February 6, 2012.
Based on the agreement between the acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, the former is going to preside over the interim government. Members of the government will be elected from among the individuals, who do not belong to these two Palestinian groups. The government is tasked with holding presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the territories, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.
For the time being, there are two governments ruling in these areas, the government of Salam Feyadh in the West Bank and that of Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip. Hamas perpetual opposition to Feyadh’s premiership has hardened the stance of Fatah, culminating in its insistence on his holding the office, especially with regards to the fact that Feyadh is an acceptable character in the eyes of Western governments, the US, and Israel. Feyadh became the interim prime minister, but since he failed to win a vote of confidence from the Palestinian Legislative Council (internal parliament), he never managed to gain domestic legitimacy. Israel’s having imprisoned many members of the council and the governments’ being situated afar from each other have ruled out the possibility of the council managing to convene sessions and meetings.
When Qatari officials faced Hamas opposition to the continuation of Feyadh’s premiership, they called on Abbas to introduce another person for the position and he proposed himself. Thus, Abbas will be both the president and the prime minister of the Palestinian unity government during the transitional period. He, however, has announced that he has no plans to run for the next presidential elections, which will probably be held in May.
As unofficial news sources suggest, the agreement between Hamas and Fatah is not limited only to who should be the prime minister of the transitional government. It also includes changes in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its subsidiary institutions. According to these sources, the next president of the Occupied Palestinian Territories will be an independent person from outside Fatah and Hamas. Abbas will remain the chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, an organization, which will have a new and significant member, i.e. Hamas. Meshaal will become the head of the Palestinian National Council, which includes representatives from both inside and outside Palestine and plays an effective role there. Sources close to Meshaal have said that he has no plans to run for the leadership of Hamas Political Bureau. This creates the prospect of Haniyeh replacing him in the office.
It should be noted that the duties of the Palestinian prime minister and the chairman of the Palestinian National Council will be defined based on what organizations and groups earn the majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council. The position of prime minister will go to the group that wins a majority in the council and the chairmanship of the council will be given to the runner-up. And therefore the positions are divided between Hamas and Fatah.
The main objective is to bring about reconciliation among Palestinians and to establish a government, which will not face international opposition and blockade, and will put an end to the Tel Aviv-imposed siege of Gaza. Some members of Hamas and other Palestinian groups also dismissed the agreement clinched in Doha as being in contradiction to the Palestinian law, while the abstention of significant figures, like Haniyeh (, who was in Bahrain at the time) or Mousa Abu Marzouq and Mahmoud al-Zahar, has also raised doubts about the Hamas movement’s position on this agreement.
A few years ago, these two groups came to a similar agreement in Mecca to end divisions among Palestinians and, under pressure from Saudi Arabia, signed an accord, whose provisions contented all sides, but there was no international and regional will to back it at the time. At that time, it came to light that Hosni Mubarak and head of Egypt's Security Office, Omar Suleiman, were behind the failure of the reconciliation. Egypt did not want to lose control of the Palestine case and enjoyed the backing of Israel and the United States in this regard. Now, the Mubarak regime in Egypt has fallen and the new government is not opposed to the intervention of Qatar to build understanding among Palestinians. Despite a competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia over regional affairs, their common opinion about the Syrian case and the assumption of Arab League's chairmanship has put an end to these differences.
Meshaal has left Syria to reside in either Qatar or Jordan to save himself from confusion in the face of the crisis in Syria and find more freedom of action outside Damascus. Reportedly, his latest meetings with Qatar's crown prince and the king of Jordan have not been very successful, but there is no doubt that he intends to make himself more compatible with the waves of change in the Arab world by leaving Syria. He heard from King Abdullah II in Amman that he had to make negotiation with Israel his strategy and abandon resistance. The next request was that he distance himself from Iran.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s coming to power In Tunisia, Egypt, and Maghreb will encourage its Palestinian counterpart (Hamas) to take itself out of the Palestinian organizational shell ruling in Gaza or the one, which is opposing it in the West Bank.
Benjamin Netanyahu has said, "If Abbas realizes what was signed in Doha, it shows that he is choosing to abandon the path of peace and join with Hamas." Israel has many elements to prevent the Palestinian national reconciliation agreement from producing its intended effects. The means range from Tel Aviv’s will to intensify the economic blockade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, through creating obstacles in the way of the taking place of the presidential and parliamentary elections and capturing all or some of the candidates, to its inclination to attack Gaza and even the West Bank. No regime like Israel will take advantage of the division among the Palestinians.