Fatah and Hamas keep talking about reconciliation but, despite having signed several agreements, have made little if any progress in more than half a dozen years of trying.
Palestinian reconciliation has broad support on the streets of the West Bank, which is ruled by the secular Fatah, and the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a spinoff of the Muslim Brotherhood and considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and many Western countries.
Fatah-Hamas reconciliation is the Catch 22 of Middle East peace making.
If the two factions, the secular Fatah and the militant Islamist Hamas, can resolve their differences and form a united front, the chance for peace with Israel drops from already low to sub-zero. Hamas opposes peace, demands Fatah halt all talks with Israel and has sworn to destroy the Jewish state; Fatah says it is committed to peace and the two-state approach.
If they fail to reconcile it will be easier for Israel and the Palestinian national movement to make a deal, except that it will only be a partial deal since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cannot speak for the Gaza strip, which Hamas grabbed in a bloody coup in June 2007.
And what good is a peace treaty with only half of the Palestinian movement? Abbas may say he's negotiating on behalf of Hamas and Gaza, but he knows that's not true and so does everyone else. What Israeli government will sign half a peace treaty with half of the Palestinians while the other half of the enterprise is busy waging war against both of them?
That leaves Israel and others asking, “If the Palestinians can’t make peace with each other, how can they make peace with Israel?”
"Hamas isn't a problem. Leave that to us," Abbas keeps saying. He's just blowing smoke. He knows he'd be safer wandering the streets of Tel Aviv than showing his face in Gaza City.