NOTHING much remains of Palestine’s Legislative Council, its symbol of democracy and sovereignty-to-be. In the Gaza Strip, last year’s Israeli assault reduced the parliament building to rubble. In Ramallah, the government seat of the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) on the West Bank, the bigger part of a would-be Palestinian state, Hamas members are barred from entry and its sessions suspended. Since the rival wings of the Palestinian national movement set up separate regimes in the summer of 2007, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president who leads Fatah, the longer-established secular faction, and Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Islamist movement, Hamas, have ruled their separate terrains as rival one-party fiefs more or less by decree.

巴勒斯坦立法议会,民主和主权的象征,未留下太多遗迹。去年以色列的空袭行动,将这幢位于迦萨走廊的议会大楼夷为平地。在Ramallah,巴勒斯坦最高当局在约旦河西岸(准巴勒斯坦国的最大片领土)的政府所在地,禁止哈马斯成员进入而立法会期亦被迫中止。自从2007年夏天,巴勒斯坦建国运动的敌对派系建立不同的政体,领导最早派系法塔赫的巴勒斯坦总统Mahmoud Abbas,以及哈马斯伊斯兰运动的总理Ismail Haniyeh,各自颁布法令统治自己的领土,成为几乎彼此敌对的一党独大封地。更多信息请访问:

Some people think that both parties, hungry for power, jobs and foreign sponsors, prefer it this way. A united Palestine would have but one prime minister; divided, it has two. And it has two cabinets, two civil services and at least two sets of armed forces. Financial backers of the two groups, led by America and Iran, have poured in cash to prop up their respective proteges and prove that their side’s approach works better. The present and previous Israeli governments think a divided Palestine is easier to dominate, and hope that Egypt may take benighted Gaza, home to a million surly refugees, off their hands.

一些人士认为双方(渴求权力、工作机会和外援)宁愿维持现状。统一的巴勒斯坦原本只会有一位总理;现在分裂,有两位总理。而且现在有两组内阁,两套文官体制,以及至少两套武装部队。幕后金主亦分成两组人马,分别由美国和伊朗领导,挹注现金支持各自的受保护者,以证明他们支持的一方接近正常运作。现在和以前的以色列政府都认为分裂的巴勒斯坦较容易支配, 并且希望埃及可以不要插手陷入黑暗的迦萨走廊,上百万名难民的家园。

In early 2007 the leaders of Fatah and Hamas managed, under Saudi auspices, to agree to a national unity government, but it collapsed after a few months, prompting Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza. Ever since, Palestinians have complained that reconciliation lies outside their hands. Regional rivalry between Egypt and Syria, and more broadly between the United States and Iran, has meant that a resolution of the Hamas-Fatah conflict depends largely on a rapprochement between their sponsors. In the meantime, various Western governments have told Mr Abbas that he will continue to get their cash only if he continues to ostracise Hamas.

在2007年初,在沙特阿拉伯的牵线下,法塔赫和哈马斯的领导人曾经同意建立全国统一政府,但几个月后瓦解,促使哈马斯以暴力接管迦萨走廊。从那以后,巴勒斯坦人民一直抱怨双方和解遥遥无期。埃及与叙利亚之间的区域对峙,甚至美国与伊朗之间更大范围的对峙,意味哈马斯—法塔赫冲突的解决大抵上依赖他们幕后支持者之间建立友好关系。同时,很多西方国家政府已告知Mahmoud Abbas,只要他持续抵制哈马斯,将会继续得到他们的现金。

And the suspicion is that Iran has warned Hamas against reconciliation. Outside attempts to mediate, mainly by Egypt but also by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have floundered. An Egyptian proposal has been set aside, mainly because Hamas objects to its demand that, pending elections, the Islamists should cede oversight of rebuilding Gaza to a steering committee under Mr Abbas’s aegis, while leaving the PA alone to govern the West Bank.

并且,他们怀疑伊朗已告诫哈马斯反对和解到底。外界进行的调停,主要由埃及与由沙特阿拉伯和卡达,四处碰壁。埃及的提案已被搁置,主要是因哈马斯反对该案的要求,包括暂停几项选举,伊斯兰应将重建迦萨走廊的监督权交给Mahmoud Abbas领导的委员会,同时让巴勒斯坦最高当局单独统治约旦河西岸。

Seeing that outsiders are deadlocked as thoroughly as the Palestinians themselves, some senior Fatah and Hamas people are now trying to settle the two parties’ differences off their own bat. So far they are talking about small steps towards reconciliation. Hamas has let Fatah people who fled Gaza after the Hamas takeover return, and talked about stabilising Gaza in ways that do not threaten its hold. Hamas has also won Fatah’s agreement to share the running of Gaza’s football federation. Hamas has paid $3m of electricity bills into the PA’s coffers in Ramallah to ensure a steadier power supply. Hamas’s health minister has invited doctors affiliated to Fatah to return to their jobs without insisting that the PA must reciprocate in the West Bank.


In mid-April Hamas and Fatah held their first joint rally for three years, to protest against Israel for continuing to keep some 6,600 Palestinian militants in jail. Proving that foreign funding can heal wounds, an international bank has successfully sponsored local Fatah and Hamas officials to work together to build schools and clinics in Rafah, Gaza’s border town by the main crossing into Egypt.


Such conciliatory efforts are modest, but they may build confidence. Unlike Fatah’s leaders who could flee from Gaza to neighbouring states when they lost power, Hamas officials have nowhere to go. Many are exhausted by Israel’s continuing siege, but fear they would be inviting attack inside and out if they laid down their arms.


Many Palestinians long for the factions to make peace with each other so they can negotiate with the Israelis as a united group, and fear that the longer it is left to fester, the harder it will be to reverse the separation of territory and power. Already Gaza and the West Bank are run under separate legal systems and have separate foreign policies. Social divisions are growing too. Hamas stalwarts stop their children marrying into Fatah families, and their taxi-drivers steer clear of students from Gaza’s pro-Fatah university. Given such divisions, a gradual resolution of differences may be the best Palestinians can hope for.


Reaching a full-blown power-sharing agreement requires the backing of more powerful forces, including the Palestinian security men and the foreign backers who pay for them. Back in 2007 foreign support for a short-lived Hamas-Fatah unity agreement evaporated when Hamas equivocated over whether its tentative acceptance of past agreements made by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the national umbrella group, meant it actually recognised Israel. This time many rank-and-file Palestinians hope that, if a new unity government took shape, Western paymasters would accept a commitment to past PLO agreements by the unity government, rather than specifically by the Hamas faction within it. After all, the Palestinians claim self-servingly, no one asked Israel’s ruling Likud party, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, to accept a two-state settlement as a condition for being internationally recognised when it took power; after a few months he, but not his party, grudgingly did so. If the latest talks gain ground, Hamas may change its rejectionist tune.

达成一份成熟的权力共享协议需要更大权力的支持,包括巴勒斯坦维安人员和支付他们薪资的外国机构。回顾2007年,当哈马斯对于是否有意愿接受过去由巴勒斯坦解放组织(PLO)签订之协议的态度模棱两可,代表实际上承认以色列,短暂的哈马斯—法塔赫统一协议的外国支持竟突然消失。这次很多一般巴勒斯坦人民都希望,若统一的新政府成形,西方赞助国家会接受统一政府对过去巴解组织协议的承诺,而不是针对内部的哈马斯派系。毕竟,巴勒斯坦人自我声称,没有人会要求以色列执政的工党(由Binyamin Netanyahu领导)接受两国的解决方案,作成该党执政时国际上承认的交换条件;几个月后,他(但不是他的党)还是勉强地接受了。如果最新谈判可以攻城略地,哈马斯可能一改拒绝的基调。

The Americans are not at present inclined to try dragging Hamas into the equation, arguing that it would only hobble current efforts to kick-start negotiations between Israel and the more amenable Palestinians. But it is widely recognised that, in the end, a longer-term deal must include Gaza as well.


Previous attempts to dislodge Hamas by siege and war have failed. A growing number of outside policymakers seeking a two-state solution—and quite a few within Israel—think it is time to look at new ways to bring Hamas in. As the stalemate persists, the big losers, as ever, are the Palestinian people themselves.