Middle East

Palestinian voices: reconciliation deal

Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have broadly welcomed the reconciliation deal signed by the two main political factions - Fatah and Hamas - in Cairo. However, scepticism remains about whether it will permanently end the division between the two groups.

The BBC has spoken to Palestinian residents to get their take on the unity pact.

Nasser Abdulhadi, Ramallah resident

As far as we, the Palestinian people are concerned, reconciliation has always been our demand. I know there are some concerns about Hamas but I want all of us to come together and make a democratic choice. We can then start negotiations on a viable peace with Israel speaking with one voice. The last month has changed the face of the Middle East. It would be smart for Israel to see this and make a solution with the Palestinians.

Of course, I don't know if this deal will last but for the first time I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Hamas and Fatah will have to be accountable and when the elections come we will have our say. I believe that if there is a third choice then people will go for it.

Farah, student, Ramallah

As Palestinians we've been waiting for this for a long while. Now we are glad that it's happened. We hope it will last and that it won't just be words on paper as so often before. We hope this will bring back greater safety and security. The Palestinian factions should care about their people and their nation more than their political differences.

Israel doesn't hope for us to be united, but we should overcome our differences and make our position more powerful. We are also grateful to Egypt, because despite having its own problems it has remembered our cause.

Jack Tanous, shop owner, Ramallah

I think it's good for the factions to unite and sort out their problems so that we come back to one government and make peace with the Israelis.

The majority of the Palestinian people really want Hamas and Fatah to unite. The US, Europeans and others had said that when we talked about any two-state solution to the peace deal we were separated, so how could we become one country?

Five years when we could have had peace talks with Israel went into the trash because of our problems. We are going to suffer now when Israel holds back our taxes and salaries [because of its opposition to the reconciliation deal]. This is how pressure is added.

Abu Yazan, activist, Gaza

I am a member of the 'Gaza Youth Breaks Out' movement and was one of the organisers of the 15 March protests [calling for reconciliation]. When the announcement of a deal was made last week, we were all surprised and happy. We held a demonstration but were attacked by the Hamas police.

We are waiting to find out about the election arrangements. We want to get rid of the people who don't deserve to be our leaders any more.

What's happening in Syria puts a lot of pressure on Hamas because everyone now knows they get a lot of financial support from them.

Eman al-Sorani, student, Gaza

Back in 2007, I lived through the violence [between Hamas and Fatah], as I was studying for my general secondary school exams. Now I see the same people who were fighting, shaking hands and talking about safety and security. I hope this deal will hold for a long time.

What worries me most is the international reaction. It's a time for the Europeans and the United States to show solidarity and put pressure on Israel to make peace.

Ebaa Rezaq, Gaza

It's a positive step but we remain sceptical. We think there were a lot of reasons why Fatah and Hamas were pushed together to make a deal, whether they liked it or not. One was the opposition movement of the youth in Gaza. This contributed even if it wasn't the main reason.

Other factors were the release of the Palestine Papers [on details of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, leaked to the Arab television station, al-Jazeera], the failure of the peace process and events taking place in Syria.

The people are fed up. We have basic needs to give liberty not just to Hamas and Fatah, but all political groups. All people should have the right to to talk into the microphone, to organise themselves and demonstrate peacefully.

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