Palestinian Unity: Creating an Effective Address in the PA

The Mecca agreement and establishment of a Unity government constitute a political and constitutional revolution for the Palestinian National Movement and will likely strengthen the Palestinian Authority as an effective address in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Mecca agreement and the establishment of a National Unity government constitute a political and constitutional revolution for the Palestinian National Movement and will likely strengthen the Palestinian Authority as an effective address in Gaza and the West Bank. However, they also undermine the ability of the Palestinians to negotiate new agreements with Israel (See: Palestinian Unity: Political and Structural Stalemate).

What is the Issue?

The Palestinian National Unity government was established after months of violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas that almost resulted in civil war in the West Bank and Gaza. This period was characterized by:

Paralysis of the PA
- The clashes between Fatah and Hamas occurred, among other reasons, due to a lack of agreement over which entity has the right, the authority, and the responsibility to represent the Palestinian people. At the heart of the crisis was disagreement over:

  • Who Represents the Palestinians - The PA or the PLO? Despite the official position of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, the political center of gravity has in recent years moved from the PLO to the institutions of the PA. The PLO remains an empty "Shell Company" that despite holding official representative powers, does not govern in practice.

  • Who controls the PA: Fatah or Hamas? - The overlap of powers and authorities between the Chairman of the PA, Abu Mazen, and the Hamas-led government, has led to a constitutional and political crisis that has paralyzed the PA.


Significance: Until now, a Palestinian Address did not exist - Since Arafat's death and more significantly since Hamas' victory, the Palestinian political system did not have the capacity to participate in a political process, to enforce a ceasefire, or to satisfy the basic needs of its population.



Why is this Important? Why Now?


What is an Address? - The Re'ut Institute defines "Address" as a political entity which possesses the responsibility or the capacity to decide and to implement specific policies. The conditions for the creation of an address include legitimacy, physical and financial resources as well as constitutional authority.

Strengthening of the PA and turning it into an Address - The Mecca agreement and the establishment of a Unity government may constitute a political and constitutional revolution and may strengthen the PA as an effective address in Gaza and the West Bank because:

  • The political status of the PA has been upgraded in favor of the PLO. The establishment of the Unity Government and PM Haniyeh's invitation (together with Abu Mazen) to the Riyadh conference scheduled to take place at the end of the month constitutes an upgrading of the political status of the PA relative to the PLO.

  • A political solution was found to the constitutional crisis in the PA based on the compromise made between Chairman Abu Mazen and the government, over the division of authority.

  • The Unity government enjoys widespread public support due to the fact that it prevented the eruption of civil war.

Significance: Establishment of an address with the capacity to manage the current interim situation - The Unity government is likely to allow Israel to conduct itself vis-à-vis one address in Gaza and the West Bank on daily matters with the Palestinians such as tariff and trade payments, mail services, electricity etc.

An effective Palestinian address will be able to provide for the basic needs of the Palestinian population, fight terror and may be used as a tool to advance the principle of separation between Israelis and Palestinians.