After Agreement, Palestinians Feel Stirrings Of Hope

May 13, 2011

The reconciliation agreement between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas is already having an impact in the beleaguered Gaza Strip. After a childhood dominated by misery and war, Yusef Ali is finally daring to hope. The winds of change that came with the Arab spring have swept into the benighted pocket of coastal desert in which he's been trapped for his whole life. Ali's only 27, yet he's spent the last four years living like a pensioner. He's been paid — but he's banned from working, because he's a soldier in the Palestinian Presidential Guard. That security unit is part of the Palestinian Authority; he lives on land ruled by the Palestinian Authority's erstwhile rival Hamas. So he's spent his days getting depressed — and watching TV. Now the factions are reconciled, he hopes to be back in uniform soon. Residents of Gaza are delighted with the reconciliation agreement, believing it deepens Israel's isolation and strengthens their hand — particularly because of Egypt support. Yet, there's also a recognition too in this war-wearing place that setting up a government of national unity will not be at all easy after all the years of division and bloodshed.