Conditions in the seaside strip of 2 million people, among the world’s most densely populated and impoverished places, have long been dire. Lately they’re worse, with 40 percent unemployment, daily electricity blackouts, water shortages, and an infrastructure devastated by three wars with Israel in a six-year span – the last in 2014 – that has yet to be restored. Gazans are squeezed by blockades from both Israel and Egypt that make it difficult to import commodities or cross into either country for medical or personal needs.
And for Fatah, a decade of divided rule has helped perpetuate the Israeli government line that there is “no partner” with whom to discuss prospects for peace. For Palestinians on both sides of the geographic and political divide, reconciliation would mean that finally their government might speak with a single voice to get things done internally and help lead to the goal of statehood.