To read more about Marc Gopin, see his Global Expert profile.
Ever since the disastrous split in Palestinian leadership of several years ago into Fatah and Hamas, it has become clear that disunity has been a critical factor standing in the way of Palestinian statehood. Many reconciliation efforts, with several third parties, were attempted and aborted. This time it seems that things are different, despite the enormous ideological divisions and outstanding grievances between Fatah and Hamas.
Why is this happening now? Clearly, the historic impact of the “Arab Spring” on Egypt and Syria, and across the region, is an enormous game changer. The increasing instability of Syria suggests that there is a strong possibility that A) Hamas may no longer have a stable home in Syria, but, on the other hand, Palestinians now have a much more sympathetic ear in Egypt which has been critical as a peace broker. B) Syria has long prevented its own Palestinian population from any kind of political activism, preferring to keep them as a bargaining chip to get back the Golan. But events of Naqba Day 2011 suggest that there are elements in Syria who are ready to unleash the power of the Palestinian masses against Israel if they see their internal situation increasingly destabilized by what they say are “outside agitators.” In other words, if the spirit of the Arab Spring brings them down then these elements are threatening to take Israel with them. All of this is new and is due to the unprecedented power and effects of Arab nonviolent resistance.
To read rest of the article, see the Huffington Post, in which this article was first published on June 6, 2011.
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Karim Emile Bitar
Research Fellow, Institute for International & Strategic Relations France, Lebanon, USA »
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