Is this good news or bad news? Hard to say, but if Hamas refuses, it's meaningless news. An election only in the West Bank achieves little. (Well, if Hamas won, I might amend that, but I wouldn't expect that result if the PA is running the show.) The Egyptian reconiciliation process seemed to be within sight of success until the whole Goldstone postponement thing came up, and I fear that US pressure had something to do with that.
Okay, Peace Process 101, my version:
- You can't have a peace process without some sort of united Palestinian negotiating team.
- You can't credibly negotiate borders with Israel if the West Bank and Gaza are two separate (but not truly independent) entities.
- Fatah and Hamas either have to work together, or there is no way to achieve both 1) and 2).
- Fatah and Hamas seemed to be coming close to an agreement: the Egyptians were laboring hard, and the Damascus Hamas leadership seemed more on board than the Gaza leadership, for a while, and then the whole Goldstone debacle blew it out of the water.
- Egypt is clearly leaning on Hamas, but that can cut both ways.
- Does any of this matter if Netanyahu doesn't have a massive road-to-Damascus conversion?