A signal for peace? Church representatives see the reconciliation agreement signed by the Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas as a hopeful sign for Christians in the Holy Land.
"Intra-Palestinian unity is an important concern for the people on the street and is also necessary so that people can once again take center stage," the head of the German-speaking Dormitio Abbey in Jerusalem, Benedictine Nikodemus Schnabel, told the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
Schnabel believes that the agreement between Fatah and Hamas is a sign of hope, especially for the small Christian minority in the Gaza Strip, because it could lead to a protective stabilization. "The agreement gives hope that Gaza will not descend into destabilization, chaos or outright radicalization," Schnabel said.
Positive for peace process
The president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan, also sees the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas as "positive for the Palestinian people, for the peace process and for justice. The church has repeatedly called for Palestinian unity, which also strengthens the negotiating position, the Palestinian told the KNA. Although the difficult implementation of the agreement still lies ahead, its conclusion "gives hope that things will change for the better".
According to Marc Frings, head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ramallah, the potential for substantial improvement in intra-Palestinian unity depends on whether the reconciliation agreement is followed by further steps. "A 10-year rift cannot be healed with a signature, but must grow together again," Frings told the CBA. The foundation’s representative sees the fragmented Palestinian society, among others, as being responsible for such a process.
Ten-year enmity resolved
According to the foundation representative, Palestinian confidence in their political leadership is currently at a low point. "If the agreement is a first step in the Palestinian leadership regaining a mandate from the street, I see opportunities," Frings said. The key to success, he says, will be questions about reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), elections in the Palestinian territories, and efforts to boost the economy, especially in Gaza.
Fatah and Hamas settled their ten-year enmity after two days of negotiations in Cairo. The reconciliation agreement stipulates that Gaza and the West Bank will be administered by a unity government in the future. Many details of the agreed power-sharing deal were not initially disclosed.