The Fatah political group in the West Bank has formed a de facto alliance with the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.
Following discussions in Turkey, the two major Palestinian parties have agreed to hold elections for various representative bodies and put 14 years of discord behind them. Whoever wins these elections, it seems clear that the two sides intend to cooperate more actively than before. Hamas official Basem Naim announced that the new consensus involves "rejecting all projects that plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause." This can be translated as "all projects that involve durable concessions to Israel as part of a long-term peace process."
The shift in tone is notable in that the last legislative elections in 2006 ended up with Hamas purging Fatah's presence in the Gaza Strip. Still, it's quite obvious why the two sides have now come to a new consensus.
The Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, knows that he needs fresh legitimacy to consolidate his corrupted inner circle. President for more than 15 years, Abbas has failed to deliver anything of significant import for the Palestinian people. Basic services remain pathetic in quality and reliability, economic activity remains stifled, corruption is the rule, and the Palestinian Authority's international standing is greatly degraded. But Abbas isn't willing to let a new generation try its hand at improving things. Instead, reports indicate that the geriatric president is trying to quash any internal Fatah resistance. Binding himself to Hamas, Abbas will hope to wash himself of the political detritus caked on him by his failed 15-year rule. The purveyor of a mythical resistance narrative that somehow a future Palestinian state will reach from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, Hamas retains popular support as the guardian of Palestinian nationalism. Abbas wants a piece of that reputation. In this sense, he is now the Palestinian opposite of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a proud nationalist-turned-terrorist puppet.
Conversely, Hamas wants access to the hundreds of millions of international dollars that flow to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority each year. Against the rising tide of Arab state recognition of Israel, Hamas lacks the resources and political capital it once possessed. Today, only Turkey and Qatar are somewhat reliable friends of the group. Even then, that's only because Qatar likes terrorists and because Recep Tayyip Erdogan fancies himself a new imperial sultan of the Sunnis. Cooperating with Fatah, Hamas hopes it will extract more resources to support its control over Gaza and service provision therein. The risks for Hamas, here, are low. Hamas's militia apparatus means that if Fatah moves against its interests, it can quickly pummel the party back into line.
The biggest losers, then, are the most familiar ones in Palestinian politics: namely, the Palestinian people themselves. No Israeli government will have the appetite or political cover to negotiate with a de facto Hamas-Fatah unity government. Such a government, after all, will necessarily support the annihilation of the Israeli state. Nor will Arab and European governments be particularly keen to send money to a terrorist group. Further Israeli sanctions on the Palestinian Authority are likely to follow and thus also further Palestinian suffering.