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The takeover of Gaza by Hamas following five days of intense fighting with its rival faction Fatah has deepened a division among Palestinians and moved them farther from peace. The realization of a two-state solution — an independent Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel — appears more distant than ever. A Gaza controlled by Hamas and a West Bank controlled by Fatah increase the prospect of bitter rivalry between two mini-Palestinian entities. Those who suffer the most are ordinary Palestinians. Both Hamas and Fatah must realize that unless they make serious efforts to reconcile with each other — however difficult such efforts might be — conditions for Palestinians will only worsen.

With Hamas’ seizure of control of Gaza, a national unity government formed by Hamas and Fatah in March through Saudi Arabia’s mediation collapsed. On June 17, at his headquarters in Ramallah, West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah swore in an emergency government that excluded Hamas members. He brands Hamas as “murderous terrorists.”

The United States has lifted an economic and political embargo of the Palestinian Authority to shore up Mr. Abbas’ emergency government. The European Union will also resume direct aid to Mr. Abbas’ government. Israel plans to release to Mr. Abbas tax revenues that it has collected on behalf of the Palestinians but which have been frozen since Hamas won Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006.

There is no guarantee that the approach of giving financial as well as diplomatic support to Mr. Abbas in the hope of isolating Hamas-controlled Gaza will work. Such an approach could further aggravate the situation. There are Hamas elements in the West Bank, and Hamas can rely on aid from Iran. Favoring Fatah also goes against the U.S. position of supporting one Palestinian state for one Palestinian people.

Hamas, for its part, must renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. It should realize that as long as it sticks to its current position, peace will not be achieved.

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