Never has an inter-Palestinian dialogue been more carefully followed than the one going in Cairo these days, where all Palestinian factions have been meeting for the past few days to sort out their differences under an all-Arab sponsorship.
In the past Palestinian factions had signed many agreements to bridge the gaps among them such as the Mecca Agreement in February 2007 under Saudi sponsorship. In a hurry to announce an agreement that will bury their differences and calm an apprehensive population, the participants sought to announce some sort of success, but it seemed the devil was in the details.
Within a few days of the popular jubilation the agreement was unraveling only to result in more fighting and more bloodshed culminating in the bloody events of June 2006.
The reader may wonder about the use of recalling past failures amidst optimism about the Cairo meetings. We are only judging the present based on the facts on the ground given the vast political and ideological gaps separating the factions. What we are trying to say here is that this is probably the last chance for national reconciliation. Of course, we do not mean by this to give an ultimatum to the participants because what has been destroyed in three years of infighting could not be repaired in three days of dialogue, especially when it comes to such matters as reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization which has been stagnant for the past forty years.
We know that good intentions are prerequisite for a successful dialogue. Some faction leaders have said that given good intentions, an agreement could be reached within hours, not days. But what we fear is outside pressure that has been looming large whether by hints or direct expressions.
For this reason, the people do not need another repeat of failed agreements. What we really need is to overcome the failures of the past and to take the time to agree on all the fine details, and to put in place a set of factors that will guarantee success.
For this very reason, we say this to the delegates: We are pinning high hopes on your dialogue. Hopes that are as high as the sacred blood of the so-many victims that fell, and the great devastation of Gaza. We are demanding that you do not let your people down and do not come back without an agreement that will protect the Palestinian rights and lift the siege, but not at any price.