In fact, the Palestinian people are sick and tired of so many dishonored and unimplemented reconciliation agreements. They are fed up with seeing Fateh and Hamas trading insults and accusations about which of them is responsible for obstructing reconciliation efforts.
The reconciliation process has been put off twice since the Cairo agreement was signed. It was first postponed because of the Palestinian plan to seek UN recognition last September and in order for it not to undermine the chances of that plan's success. It was then postponed a second time in order to await the final outcome of the Arab Spring (in Egypt and Syria in particular), what with political Islam coming to power in several Arab countries.
Soon after the parties signed the [February 2012] Doha agreement, which was supposed to solve the disagreement over who should lead the new government (President Abbas), a new issue came up: should Abbas form a government first, or should Hamas agree to the electoral commission registering voters before that?
The naked truth is that the sticking point has always been much bigger and more serious: Which faction better deserves to lead the Palestinian people, Fateh or Hamas?
The thrust of Hamas' argument sounds very reasonable: let Abbas form a government first, then, as head of a unity government, he should order the electoral commission to begin the process of voter registration. But if it was so simple, why not proceed with registration first? Who can ensure Hamas would obey the head of the national unity government once it is formed?
The fact of the matter is that the split is not going to disappear once a government is formed. Forming a new government without rebuilding vital institutions, and the security services in particular, would not change the realities created by the split one iota. Forming a unity government would keep the situation as it is for the foreseeable future.
Fateh's thesis sounds equally reasonable. Fateh says that Hamas should allow voter registration to take place first in order to prove that it agrees to hold elections within a few months. But how can free and fair elections be held within months while Palestinian civil and security institutions are still split, while detentions and dismissals continue, and while the two factions still trade insults and accusations?
If we delve a little deeper into the essence of the problem, we find that Hamas has become more reluctant to hold elections, especially after the recent university elections in the West Bank. Hamas fears that it would lose, and be forced to leave power through the same door it entered; namely, the ballot box.
Hamas's argument is strengthened by its realization that it could not rule even if it wins the next elections, simply because the situation on the ground is similar to that that existed in 2006 when it won in the elections but could not exercise power because of Israel’s blockade and detention of Hamas ministers and MPs.
Hamas thus decided to bet on keeping control of Gaza and wait for the outcome of the Arab revolts – especially as events in Egypt seem to be going its way, what with the Muslim Brotherhood appearing to be set to seize power. Hamas says, both openly and in private that it would never cede control of Gaza unless it has a reasonable chance to win the next election and allowed to exercise power.
And since such assurances are impossible to give, since the matter is not entirely in the Palestinians' – or Arabs' – hands, but in the hands of Israel and the United States, Hamas has decided to postpone reconciliation until more favorable conditions arise. ‘Gaza in hand is better than the West Bank, the PA, and the PLO on the tree,’ Hamas believes. At best, reconciliation can be a form of power sharing – with the split remaining effectively in place – until the situation improves in due course.
Hamas has to understand, however, – and it most certainly does – that its participation in politics, not to mention playing a leading role, is conditional upon its acceptance of the quartet's conditions. Yet Hamas acts hesitantly, taking one or two steps forwards and one step back. It has adopted a political program that shares much with that of the PLO; it has suspended [armed] resistance by agreeing to observe a truce with Israel; it has embraced civil resistance, and agreed to President Abbas leading a new government. But all to no avail. What is required of Hamas is to recognize Israel, renounce violence and terror, and uphold signed agreements.
Hamas has all that it has done for nothing. Yet it is required to do even more – all in exchange for [the West and Israel] opening a dialogue with it. Should Hamas agree to these conditions, it would lose everything, and offer an example even worse than that of its rival, Fateh. After all, Fateh made major concessions, but at least it received Israeli recognition of the PLO and Israel's acceptance of setting up the PA on Palestinian soil, in return. Hamas by contrast is called upon to make similar concessions in exchange for recognition, which the Palestinians realize would not lead to statehood or liberation.
The key to salvation lies in the understanding – by Fateh and Hamas especially – that the  Oslo process is dead and buried, and that what is now required is to chart a new political course that is capable of reviving the Palestinian national project, a project that can mobilize the energies of the Palestinian people and express the interests and rights of all Palestinians. The key to salvation also lies in abandoning the quest for reconciliation before recognizing the reasons for the split and dealing with them first.
Genuine reconciliation is impossible to achieve unless a new strategy capable of unifying the Palestinian people – not only the factions – is crafted first. Such a strategy, built on foundations of democracy and genuine partnership, would be capable of rebuilding the PLO, the umbrella organization that represents all Palestinians. A rebuilt PLO could the adopt a national charter based on the nationalist and patriotic charters, seeking to renew them by taking advantage of the experiences of the Palestinian struggle since the PLO was established; a charter that guarantees the historical and national rights of the Palestinian people.
A rebuilt PLO could also adopt a political program that emphasizes common denominators, and can deal with present political realities in order to change – and not surrender to – them