Senior Palestinian Authority sources are warning foreign officials that the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah is in danger following the kidnap of three Israeli teens in the West Bank on Thursday. But the situation on the ground appears differently.
Firstly, a delegation from the West Bank is in Egypt with the aim of persuading the new leader in Cairo to open the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Sinai. Secondly, the new Palestinian unity government has been discussing an issue of great concern to the rulers of Gaza, namely, the payment of wages to thousands of Hamas officials.
The Palestinian delegation in Egypt on Tuesday is headed by Azzam Al-Ahmad, who holds the reconciliation portfolio within Fatah. The delegation, which includes members of the PLO leadership, went to discuss the opening of the Rafah crossing that connects the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, thereby opening a valve that will allow Gaza residents some freedom of movement.
At the same time, Mofid al-Hasayneh, a minister in the Palestinian unity government, announced that a meeting had been held in Ramallah to discuss the issue of salaries of 40,000 officials who had been working under the Hamas government in Gaza. He said that the government is developing a system to pay these salaries before the beginning of Ramadan in two weeks.
"As soon as the mechanism is ready, we will announce the date for payment of salaries," he said, adding that in order to highlight unity, the new government wanted to hold a special meeting in Gaza, but that Israel was preventing it from taking place.
Earlier Tuesday evening, the military wings of Palestinian factions in Gaza held a brief press conference. Although they continued to avoid taking responsibility for the abduction of Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, they praised the hijackers for their mission designed to release Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and expressed support for any such endeavor.
The press conference was attended by most factions, including the Hamas military wing, but for some unclear reason there was no representative from Islamic Jihad. The representatives of the factions said that, "the West Bank was carrying out the sacred task of confronting the enemy." They threatened that the Gaza Strip may also begin to take part in the current campaign, should Israel continue its military operations in the West Bank. Elements in Gaza, they said, "would not sit idly by in the face of Israeli measures."
Hamas in Gaza also issued a statement of appreciation for the firm stance of Hebron residents in light of the actions of the Israeli security forces, and expressed support for their struggle against what it called "the Israeli attack". The statement said that the Palestinians remained united around guaranteed victory.
Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said that no matter who was behind the actual kidnapping, the Palestinian people had the right to defend themselves and show solidarity with the prisoners. He added that Israel is responsible for the consequences of its actions in Hebron.
Meanwhile, Palestinian activists have answered Israel's social media campaign for the return of the three teens, which uses the slogan "Bring back our boys." The Palestinian counter-campaign uses the slogan "three Shalits," a reference to Gilad Shalit, a former IDF soldier held captive in Gaza for five years. The campaign asks people to photograph themselves holding up three fingers to represent the three kidnapped boys, in support of the kidnapping. Many of those taking part in the campaign are children.