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Fatah Invites Hamas to Party Conference but Few Believe it Represents Rapprochement

The Palestinian Fatah faction with which the Palestinian Authority is aligned has invited rival Gaza Strip rulers Hamas to attend its party conference in Ramallah on Tuesday. But few observers believe the invitation in any way represents a gesture of rapprochement extended by Fatah. Despite several written agreements to end the bifurcation of the Palestinian people by uniting the West Bank controlling Fatah and Gaza Strip ruling Hamas, there have been no signs that any of the measures set forth to end the rift – which is considered by many to be the Palestinian people’s greatest obstacle to statehood. Foremost on the wish list is elections, which have been set and delayed more than once. The last time municipal elections were set was in September, but a Fatah-run court quashed the balloting in an unpopular decision. Observers say Fatah is besieged by its own internal disunity to the point where it’s not in position to move forward to reconciling with Hamas. It hasn’t held a conference since 2009 and seems unable to deal with the most burning question: What will happen on the day after Mahmoud Abbas leaves office?