As Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, I welcomed the agreement of Fatah and Hamas to form a unified government and set the date for elections.
I extend a sincere thanks to President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas politburo President Khaled Meshaal on their cooperative initiative that led to this historic agreement under the crucial support of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Azzam Al Ahmed must also be recognized for his work during this process as the liason for Fateh’s Central alongside Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk Mahmoud al-Zahar.
However, today we thank above all the Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, whose youthful direction and popular action drove our national reunification and ended our enfeebling division.
The road towards liberation will now become more difficult as Israel arms itself against our sovereign rights, and we should not falter in protecting our unity and implementing its democratic liberation program. We realize several parties will try to scuttle this deal and our new national unity, but we can fend these attempts off and consolidate our unified Palestine.
The Cairo Agreement is of monumental, historic importance. It restored Palestinian national unity and democracy; sanctified our peoples’ right to choose leaders; reestablished what was lost in the Palestinian Legislative Council; united and strengthened our people in the face of plots against her; changed the balance of power in favor of our people to meet the challenges of September; revived and strengthened the Palestinian Liberation Organization; formed a unified national leadership of the Palestinian people as part of the PLO; and brought together Palestine’s disparate groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian National Initiative.
The April 27 Cairo Agreement will lead to the lifting of the siege on Gaza, the opening of the Rafah crossing, and the end of the pain and suffering of more than 1.5 million people blockaded for more than five years.
This agreement is a victory for our people and all the efforts made to achieve reconciliation. According to the Cairo Agreement, now we must establish a unified government of independent figures by all parties. Immediately, we must hold leadership meetings to activate the PLO, set a date for presidential, legislative and National Council elections. To ensure democracy prevails in reunified Palestine, we must ensure freedom of action and organization of all forces in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Cairo Agreement will lead to the adoption of a unified liberation strategy through dialogue between our diverse forces.
All the Palestinian factions will go to Cairo next Wednesday or Thursday to sign the agreement. The biggest threat now to Palestinian democracy are the positions of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu – who looked like someone gone mad yesterday, speaking on behalf of his government, starting a frenzied campaign to accuse the Palestinians of terrorism and incite the world against this historic agreement of national unity.
The positions of Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and the Israeli government is proof that they are against Palestinian unification, democracy, and peace, and against a strong, independent and sovereign Palestinian state. They want to perpetuate the division to keep Palestine weak – divided and conquered – in order to continue their colonialist plan to destroy any prospect for the end of the Israeli system of apartheid.
There was no peace process before this unification deal and there will only be one when Israel stops its settlement of Palestinian territory. The intransigence of Netanyahu and his cabinet in closing the doors of diplomacy in the face of President Abbas exemplify their colonial creed masked by a so-called peace process where Israel’s foreign minister can advocate, just yesterday, the annexation of 60 percent of the West Bank.
Israel must give up its illusion that it can impose an unfair regime by deepening a split in the ranks of the Palestinians. If Israel wants peace, a unified Palestinian represents a golden opportunity for a just peace. If peace is achieved, now it will deliver justice to all the Palestinian people.
I was surprised at recent Israeli incitement of U.S. Congress members against our reunification. Before the world, I ask the US government: how can you support democracy in Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, and not to stand with the peaceful democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people? We must reject double standards, especially when it comes to democracy.
We Palestinians must stand united in the face of any attempt to boycott the next government. There would be no justification for such a boycott because it will be a government of independents: the Cairo Agreement specifically states that any new government will not belong to any one party, Hamas, Fateh or otherwise. All elected officials will join the PLO, which will have sole authority to negotiate for peace, strengthened by an integrated, coherent and reunified Palestinian people.
The Arab world is not the same place it was four years ago. Egypt and Tunisia and their peoples should be thanked for their reconfiguration of the regional power balance in favor of democracy. The success of Palestinian national unity and reconciliation was enabled by their democratic movement. The shift in Egypt is a milestone – a positive change for the benefit of our people and the Arab peoples – confirmed through Egypt’s providing Palestinian national reunification talks a safe haven.
People must protect and support the unity agreement and repulse any attack on it. The division in our recent past will not be repeated. Attempts to break this unity will fail. The media has great influence now and, if responsible and ethical journalism is practiced, the Cairo Agreement will be the first real step towards freedom for our people: a real state, mass mobilization of the popular struggle to end the occupation and the siege, and the dismantling of the system of racial discrimination and apartheid.
Today we are now closer than ever to achieving the hopes of every Palestinian woman, child and man.