As the Jerusalem Post observes, the timing of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation couldn’t be better for Hamas. Those thousands of Gazans who had hoped to have their voices heard by the world — whose displeasure at Hamas’s appalling regime parallels that of the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Syrians, and who dared take to the streets of Gaza to say so — have been silenced more effectively than anything the Hamas security forces could have dreamt of.
Abbas, who had wagged his finger censoriously at Hamas for ignoring the resentment of their people, has now jumped into bed with them instead. He has thus announced to the Palestinians of Gaza that as far as Fatah is concerned, they — like the Israelis — can put up or shut up. And his imprimatur has given foreign observers — particularly those who have either a tacit or an open admiration for Hamas’s goals and methods with regard to Israel — an out to ignore the pesky problem of Palestinians who themselves dissent from the required narrative of “resistance” over nation-building. Those Palestinians are now voiceless wraiths, inconvenient and ignorable. They are like the citizens of south Lebanon who object to Hezbollah’s cooption of their future and the citizens of Iran whose cries against the mullahs evaporate into the wind. They might still be talking, but nobody’s listening.
In addition to the boost in legitimacy and prestige it provided to Hamas, Abbas’s capitulation has also given them an immediate, practical dividend: it handed Egypt the pretext they needed to open the border with Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby is quoted as saying the Rafah crossing will be permanently reopened within a week or so, so as to ease the “suffering of the Palestinian people.” It’ll certainly ease the suffering of Hamas, which will now have much easier access to the flow of arms and personnel. The opening of the border effectively cancels the Egyptian blockade of Gaza and directly violates what Haaretz explains was “an agreement reached in 2005 between the United States, Israel, Egypt, and the European Union, which gives EU monitors access to the crossing. The monitors were to reassure Israel that weapons and militants wouldn’t get into Gaza after its pullout from the territory in the fall of 2005.” So much for that. In case there was any doubt following the Egyptian revolution, Israel now must reorient its defense forces to face a hostile western front potentially on a par with the threat across the northern border.
Oh, and remember Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian PM? The one who’s been working alongside Abbas for years to purge the West Bank of Hamas influence, and who’s been generally perceived in the West (if a bit uncritically) as a true advocate of peace with Israel? Well, he’s under the bus too.