With the ceasefire in Gaza holding firm, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt are trying to figure out how to rebuild the Gaza Strip without the benefits going to Hamas. As Al-Jazeera English reports:
On September 16, the United Nations, Israel and the PA reached a deal to allow reconstruction work in Gaza, almost a month after a ceasefire pact was reached between Israel and Hamas, ending 50 days of Israel’s war on Gaza[….]Only earlier this week, Hamas and Fatah reached a consensus in Cairo to allow the unity government composed of independent figures, and sworn in on June 2, to reinstate PA security forces at the Rafah crossing[….]But what is being touted as a proposal to kick-start Gaza’s reconstruction process is essentially enabling a resurgent Fatah in the strip – something that the faction’s leaders have not been shy to admit.“The PA, as it stands, is an authority without an authority,” said Mohammad Shtayyeh, another senior Fatah party official. The PA, he added, has to extend its reach over all walks of life in Gaza … and should be fully in charge of [its] financial needs.”[….]A central issue in the Cairo talks was the Rafah crossing: Hamas wanted it reopened, but Egypt was unwilling to discuss the issue unless Abbas’ security forces took control. [Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni began to see this as a way to help the Palestinian Authority reclaim the entire strip after more than seven years of Hamas rule.
The longstanding concern about any unity deal to reinstate PA control in Gaza is that Hamas fighters will just swap their green headbands for PA badges. But Egypt’s opposition to Hamas, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, means that PA control of the Rafah crossing will be real, which is a new development for the various attempts at a unity deal.Nonetheless, and as Al-Jazeera notes, it’s not clear how the PA gaining control of Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt could translate into greater PA control within the strip itself. But even if the result of this ceasefire amounts to a status quo antebellum with the PA controlling Rafah, that nonetheless leaves Hamas in the weaker position: surrounded by enemies and partnered in a “unity” government with Abbas, a man who would like nothing more than to re-take control of Gaza.