On October 13, 2022, 14 Palestinian factions, including Hamas and al-Jihad al-Islami, signed "Algiers Declaration" which emanated from the "Palestinian Reunification Conference " held in Algiers between the 11th and 13th of the same month under the auspices of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The Declaration contained nine principles for achieving Palestinian reconciliation.
The most important of the Declaration’s nine principles was the emphasize on the significance of national unity, the enshrine of the political partnership principle take practical steps to achieve a national reconciliation by bringing the division into an end, the strengthening and developing of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s role, to elect of the Palestinian National Council upon the system of full proportional representation, the reediness of Algeria to hold the new Palestinian National Council, the expedite of holding presidential and legislative general elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including the city of Jerusalem) within a maximum period of one year. In addition to unify the Palestinian national institutions, activate a mechanism for the secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions to follow up ending division, and an Algerian-Arab working group would supervise and follow up the implementation of the terms of the agreement.
Algiers Declaration for reconciliation comes after a long series of Palestinian reconciliation agreements, since the political split in the summer of 2007. The Declaration is preceded by the Mecca Agreement in the same year, the Sana'a Declaration in 2008, the Cairo Accords in 2009 and 2011, the Doha Agreement in 2012, the Beach Agreement in 2014, the Cairo Agreement in 2017, the Moscow Declaration in 2019, and then the Istanbul Declaration in 2020, in addition to dozens of meetings in Ramallah, Gaza, Beirut, Damascus, and others.
The Algerian Role
Algeria's concern in the Palestinian cause is not new, it dates back to the period even before Algeria's independence in 1962, when the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) had close ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), relations that continued after independence through Algeria's political, military, and financial support for the PLO, before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Later, Algeria turned to support the Palestinian Authority, especially politically and financially.
Algeria hosted the nineteenth session of the Palestinian National Council in 1988, where PLO declared "the independence of the State of Palestine" putting forward the Palestinian peace program. Algeria also has relations with all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and al-Jihad al-Islami, as well as having official relations with the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, the matter that was evident in President Tebboune's initiative to set a meeting between the presidency of the Palestinian Authority and the leadership of Hamas, at the level of Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, on the sidelines of the Algeria's celebrations of its independence anniversary in July 2022.
Therefore, the Algerian role comes as an attempt to move the Palestinian reconciliation file in a natural context, but that role, in return, such role achieves the political and public interests of the Algerian Republic presidency and President Tebboune, especially in the moral dimension of the Palestinian cause, where not so much is expected to be offered much on the ground, the matter that will be discussed later.
Higher Expectations, Bigger Gap
The nine principles of the Algiers Declaration represent, at the theoretical level, a significant retreat from previous agreements or declarations, as they came in general formulations far from resolving the controversial issues that eradicate causes of political division. Such principles also lacked a definition of clear mechanisms at the level of procedures necessary for implementation, even the only item, related to implementation mechanisms in the draft declaration, was canceled at the last minute, due to the massive disputes between Fatah and Hamas around such mechanisms. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine revealed abolishing item VII of "Declaration of Algeria" draft, that stipulated:
"To form of a national unity government, responsible for reunifying the institutions, and adopting a strategy of struggle in order to provide the elements of steadfastness and confrontation and resistance among the Palestinian people, in the face of occupation, and to confront the of settlers gangs”
The low theoretical level of the Algiers Declaration comes as an expected reflection of the increasing practical gap between the two sides of the Palestinian division, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where each side seems very keen to consolidate its "authority" and tighten the noose on the other, politically and security. The political program of each side goes towards more exclusivity, seeking to monopolize representing the Palestinian people. Add to this the growing contradiction of the Arab and regional political alliances between the two sides. However, what is most important is: The roots and first causes of the political division of the two sides were not addressed.
The fundamental points of disagreement between the two sides of the division are the biggest absentees from the Algiers Declaration. It doesn’t seem that the two sides of such dispute have any intention of looking at these controversial points on the basis of shared responsibility, as each side still blames the other party and holds it solely responsible for the division. Although the causes of political division are no longer a secret a decade and a half after the division was realized, whether such reasons are related to the attitude towards a true political partnership, serious readiness for pluralism, accept difference, and bring the culture of exclusivity and domination to an end.
In conclusion, the nine principles of the Algiers Declaration did not go far from the status of general slogans in their theoretical form, to be a retreat from the previous reconciliation agreements, from a procedural point of view. Given the failure of all previous attempts to progress, even one step, on the way to ending division, despite the existence of a central and influential Arab role, such as the Egyptian role, in many of these attempts, so therefore: the chances of Algiers Declaration may not achieve any significant progress in the file of Palestinian reconciliation, especially since the Algerian role is not comparable to the Egyptian role in terms of its depth of relations, nor it can be compared to the Egyptian’s role regarding the ability to influence both sides of the division politically and security. Should there be any interests achieved by that Declaration, they would be of the Algerian Republic presidency’s share first, and then to Hamas partly, in terms of strengthening its Arab "legitimacy" from the Algerian arena, at the official and popular levels, while no one seems to have any high expectations any further.