Palestinian Schism: alternatives between reunification and separation

Thirteen Years After the West Bank-Gaza Strip Split:
Phased Policy Alternatives Between Reunification and Separation

(1) Background: why this paper?

The restoration of unity is of great importance to the Palestinian people as a supreme national interest. But the gap widens between the positions of the two rival parties whenever the reconciliation dialogue affects their interests, status, or gains. Division and discord are also more entrenched with the passage of time. After thirteen years, the possibility of restoring unity has become more difficult than it was at the outset, due to institutional changes, cultural developments, and social structures that have evolved over time in order to accommodate and deal with the split.

(2) Possible alternatives to full reunification

The widespread public desire to restore unity invites the political elite to consider temporary alternatives to a return to ‘full’ integrative unity, such as a federation or confederation which could provide a form of phased or temporary partial unity between the West Bank and Gaza. There is no doubt that a return to full unity — represented by political and administrative control by the center (the capital) over the remaining parts, the existence of unified budgets, a single tax system, and the setting of developmental priorities and the control over public security by a single political authority — is the best option to preserve territorial unity that the Palestinians seek to ensure in any future agreement with Israel. It is also the broadest expression of Palestinian nationalism, in the absence of fundamental differences in cultural structures. But the rival groups have failed since the 2011 Cairo Agreement to achieve this goal. The impeding dynamics of the rivalry, the desire to have access to the privileges of governance and its control, have remained in place. This brief presents three temporary alternatives to a possible restoration of unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the aim of overcoming the split and preventing it from leading to a permanent separation:[8]


There is no doubt that finding a way out of the current deadlock on the road to restore unity requires an open mind and new thinking in looking at the nature of the relationship between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This scrutiny should be done in the light of the multiple experiences in the world around us. Failure to do so risks the inevitability of a permanent separation over time. It also requires providing a solution that creates a balance between the interest in protecting the political system, preserving cultures, protecting the particularities of the population, and the special circumstances of each geographical area, with tools to link them effectively.



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