On May 4, 2011, the Palestinian factions Fateh and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement ending a four-year division, which debilitated Palestinian domestic politics and national strategy. The agreement, signed with much fanfare in a post-Mubarak Cairo, raised hopes as well as questions. Could this really be the end of division between bitter rivals and the start of a unified Palestinian movement? How will such an agreement be tested over time? How will Washington and Tel Aviv respond to the agreement, and how does this all relate to the “Arab Spring?”
These many questions are as interesting as they are important. To attempt to provide answers to them requires an understanding of the genesis of the division between these two Palestinian factions, the history of their relationship prior to the recent period, and the differences in both interests and ideology.