May 5, 2011 by IJV
This week saw two very important steps: firstly, the unity pact between Hamas and Fatah and secondly the suggestion that Egypt will open the border with Gaza at Rafah. Both are positive developments that bring a just and peaceful solution closer.
The blockade of Gaza, making the lives of Palestinians even more miserable and increasing support for extremists, could never be in the long-term interests of Israelis. Any long range solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must involve all Palestinians. Just as in the past that had to include the PLO, now it must include Hamas. No realistic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be possible without a Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel. And any long range viable Palestinian State will have to include both Gaza and the West Bank. So this unity agreement could be a key step forward.
As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz argued in an editorial this week, and as the Israeli Foreign Ministry has argued, the unity pact is an opportunity for Israel. The Palestinians hope their new found unity will take them nearer to a state and the end of occupation. But that also must be in Israel’s true interests. Israel can only achieve the peace its people crave and need once the occupation is ended.