The announcement of an accord between Hamas and Fatah deserves encouragement and support from the international community.
While this is a tentative first step with many issues left to be addressed, it is nevertheless a step that must bring a glimmer of hope to the people of Gaza. The fact that the agreement was negotiated with the assistance of Egypt is also encouraging, especially if the border between Gaza and Egypt will now more flexibly permit movement of people and trade.
It is to be hoped that the Australian government will publicly express its encouragement for the agreement and partner with an international strategy to further strengthen this tentative step. It is important that the Palestinian voice at the negotiating table gain increased legitimacy.
That Prime Minister Netanyahu has already poured cold water on the agreement saying it will make peace harder, is hardly surprising. Netanyahu has always made it clear that he does not want a unified Palestinian authority that speaks for all Palestinians. He would rather live with the excuse that he has no one legitimate with whom to negotiate.
We strongly commend the statement made by the spokesperson for the PLO Dr Hanan Ashrawi.