Will the Palestinians seize the slim chance of statehood offered by President Barack Obama’s pledge to work for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or will they throw it away because of unresolved inter-Palestinian conflicts?
These unspoken questions lay behind the talks which Fatah and Hamas held in Cairo this week, in a last ditch attempt at reconciliation. Three earlier rounds of talks under Egyptian sponsorship ended in failure. This week’s negotiations fared little better, so wide is the chasm between these rival Palestinian factions.
What is clear, however, is that unless Fatah and Hamas put an end to their bitter political and ideological quarrels and form a unity government, Obama himself will not be able to help them. Palestinian hopes of statehood will evaporate, as so often in the past. But, this time, it could be forever. Continued Israeli settlement expansion has already all but foreclosed any realistic possibility of a viable Palestinian state.