Palestinian Authority factions in Judea and Samaria have apparently reached a unity agreement, just as an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire with Gaza terrorists was being discussed by Israel's cabinet.
Senior representatives of the PA's ruling Fatah faction, along with top members of Gaza's ruling Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations announced the news Monday night to a crowd of 1,000 cheering PA Arabs in Ramallah.
"From here, we announce with other [faction] leaders that we are ending the division,” declared Fatah's Jibril Rajoub, reported AFP.
The rally took place in Manara Square in the PA capital of Ramallah, in Samaria (Shomron). The news agency described the scene as a “sea of Palestinian flags as the crowd chanted “Unity!” and “Hit, hit Tel Aviv!” Gaza terrorists have fired at least five Iranian Fajr-5 missiles at Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv since last Thursday.
"Whoever speaks about the division after today is a criminal,” Hamas leader Mahmud al-Ramahi told the crowd.
The agreement, if it lasts more than a day, could further raise the increasing number of road terror attacks in Judea, Samaria and outlying neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Fatah has tried for years to cobble together a national unity government with Hamas, only to have the Gaza-based faction scotch the deal at the ninth hour.
Hamas won by a landslide in the only legitimate legislative elections across Judea, Samaria and Gaza, six years ago. However, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas retained his position as PA Chairman, and a number of Fatah members remained in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
Within months, however, the two factions were embroiled in a bloody militia war over Gaza which eventually ended with Fatah's ouster from the region. Gaza has remained in the iron grip of Hamas ever since; but in the past couple of years, the group has faced a new challenger for the seat of power.
The harder-line Al Qaeda-linked Global Jihad Salafi movement has begun to challenge the authority of Hamas in the Gaza, as has the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
With its position threatened from all sides, Hamas now finds itself having to prove its credentials both in terrorism and on the global diplomacy front. Funds to Gaza, and to Fatah if it were to unite with Hamas, were frozen by the Quartet of peacekeeping nations (Russia, the U.S., United Nations and European Union) until it agreed to renounce violence, uphold all agreements signed by prior PA governments, and recognize the State of Israel and its right to exist.
Hamas has never agreed to any of the aforementioned conditions.
Fatah, the primary faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization, intends to approach the United Nations General Assembly in a bid to gain recognition for the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign nation by requesting status as a non-member observer nation.
United with Hamas, Fatah faces a tougher struggle than it did in last year's attempt, which ended in failure. The United States has repeatedly warned it will use its veto power to nix any attempt by the PA to gain recognition as an independent sovereign state without going through direct negotiations at the table with the Jewish State.
Should its strategy somehow succeed, however, the PA will have evaded the necessity of final status negotiations, as mandated in the internationally-recognized 1993 Oslo Accords that it signed with Israel.