By Afro-Middle East Centre

Last Wednesday Fatah and Hamas announced a national unity deal to end seven years of division (actually, twenty-five years, since Hamas’s founding) between the largest Palestinian parties. In terms of the agreement, a unity government will formed within five weeks, and presidential and parliamentary elections will take place within six months. The Israeli government responded by ‘withdrawing’ from peace talks, ending the nine-month Kerry initiative. Palestinians responded cautiously; after all, this is not the first such agreement. It follows unfulfilled agreements from 2012 (in Cairo and Doha), 2011 (in Cairo), 2007 (in Makkah), and, before that, 2005. A few commentators decried the current deal as ‘stillborn’, but there is hope, even if minimal, that it might yield positive results.

Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, called Israel's reference to itself as a Jewish state 'inherently racist' and contested Israel's claims to being a democracy during her recent visit to South Africa hosted by the Afro-MiddleEastCentre(AMEC).

Zoabi was in South Africa from 13 to 22April2012 to address a series of public seminars and participate in meetings with representatives of government, parliament and the African National Congress. She met both international relations deputy ministers, party chief whips in parliament and members of the international relations portfolio committee. She also met key personalities in labour unions, civil society organisations and Palestinian solidarity groups. Zoabi also gave numerous media interviews during her visit.

By Adam Hanieh

Over the last six months, the Palestinian economy has been radically transformed under a new plan drawn up by the Palestinian Authority (PA) called the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP). Developed in close collaboration with institutions such as the World Bank and the British Department for International Development (DFID), the PRDP is currently being implemented in the West Bank where the Abu Mazen-led PA has effective control. It embraces the fundamental precepts of neoliberalism: a private sector-driven economic strategy in which the aim is to attract foreign investment and reduce public spending to a minimum.

By Tariq Dana

In his recent speech at the conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, emphasised that Palestinian Authority's (PA) willingness to maintain a strong security partnership with Israel. Abbas defended security coordination with Israel under any and all circumstances, claiming that it was a 'Palestinian national interest'. He had previously characterised it as 'sacred'. Such repeated statements by the PA president and other officials have sparked widespread condemnation and outrage among Palestinians, and also provoked renewed questioning of the increasingly suspicious role of the PA security sector.

By Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies

The latest escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came in the form of an all-out Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. Exploiting the killing of three settlers in the West Bank’s Hebron region, the Israelis have set forth to realize a number of political aims through their latest attack, including an attack on the Hamas movement in the West Bank; the redundancy of the Palestinian Unity Cabinet; the abandonment of its international political obligations toward the Palestinian National Authority; and the ability to cloak heightened settlement construction and obduracy in the negotiations underneath the smoke of a “war on terror”. Notably, even though no Palestinian political faction has accepted responsibility for the killing of the three settlers, Israel has blamed Hamas for the operation and taken the conflict to the Gaza Strip. Utilizing regional realities, particularly the case of a pliant government in Egypt, the Israelis launched an attack on the Gaza Strip: the strength of Hamas’s response, however, surprised and embarrassed both the Israeli and Egyptian governments.

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