At best it can be viewed as a bittersweet step with the hope that the rancor subsides to help the nascent coalition. The decision was based on political self interest, not coherent unity. Both sides had their own reasons intrinsic to their factions that led to the formation a unity government. Whether or not it can be interpreted as sincere cohesiveness, it probably demonstrates that regardless of their differences, Hamas and Fatah do rely on each other as a last resort.
The change in the political setup in Egypt in July 2013 that deposed MB's Mohamed Morsi was a huge setback for Hamas in Gaza. Restrictions on the Rafah Border and complete closure of tunnels to prevent Hamas activists infiltrating into Egypt and assisting their ousted MB comrades have put plenty of pressure on Hamas. Residents of Gaza aren't able to crossover to Egypt for medical treatment nor to visit their relatives. Trade and transactions of essential supplies have come to a halt. After Sheikh Hammad of Qatar handed over power to his son in June 2013, Hamas already lost huge financial support from the Qatari block. Toppling of Morsi the following month made the siege of Gaza still more unbearable. Hamas felt it had no other choice but to be more flexible and reach out to whoever was willing to befriend it with the hope of easing the siege and having some 'friends' to count on. Even someone like Mahmoud Abbas would do.
Abbas has been illegally sitting at the Ramallah office for ten years since 2004. He lost a fair election in 2006 against Hamas. Out of 132 seats, Hamas won 74 while Abbas' Fatah bagged only 45. Yet Abbas continued as the "president" of Palestine at the behest of Israel and the Western leaders. Having achieved nothing since the last decade, he was getting a bit flustered over his illegitimate status as "president." Earlier he talked about taking his case to the ICC but never did; instead he continued to trust the dishonest brokerage of the U.S. for "peace talks." He talked about going to the U.N. and declaring statehood. But when the moment arrived, he failed to take any constructive steps. April 29, 2014 was set as the deadline for Palestinian/Israeli peace talks by the U.S. and Abbas had literally nothing to show that would compliment his ten years in power. He is hoping that reconciliation with Hamas and formation of a single Palestinian government might help to 'refurbish' his tainted image of a corrupt opportunist.
Yet the move is seen by many as one that may compel Israel to negotiate with Hamas and consequently an end to the bogus "peace talks" that have so far yielded nothing. It has definitely put Israel in an embarrassing position (at least for the time being), exposing its genuine intent of never wanting peace as clear as daylight. For a long time the Israeli government refused to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas over the pretext that Abbas didn't represent the Palestinian entity as a whole, with no control over Gaza. That obstacle (if it was not meant to be a real cause) has now been removed. But instead of showing the slightest appreciation or optimism, Israel suspended the "peace talks" altogether as a gesture of disappointment over Fatah's decision to work with Hamas.
Plenty of seasoned analysts and observers are of the opinion that now is the time for Palestinian leaders to seriously regroup, to officially announce their complete distrust on the uselessness of U.S. brokered negotiations for over two decades, to focus on alternative movements such as the BDS and encourage "popular resistance" to awaken the world and to awaken Israeli households that the Palestinians have their own voices as a consolidated entity to put their demands on the table. No need for phoney brokers any more!
As a former member of PLO's negotiation unit, Diana Buttu, puts it: " .. what Abbas and Fatah have done, which is to wag their finger at everybody and say "Thou shalt not." They don't empower us to do something, they just tell us what you shouldn’t do. That's why I think popular resistance is an important strategy. There has to be a price that is paid for this continued occupation. I'm talking about popular resistance, not armed resistance. But I think that this image or belief that the PA had -- that somehow the international community is going to save us -- has been proven to be a false one, The international community is not going to save Palestine, and I think the only thing that we can do is save ourselves and make this costly for Israel. And it'll be costly on us for a long period of time too." The goal of a popular resistance as explained by Ms. Buttu "is to hold Israel to account. Whether it is holding them to account in an international arena, or by holding them to account through popular resistance, they need to begin to see that there is a price to be paid for the continued occupation and the continued racism inside '48."
Pushing ahead with the BDS movement is vitally important. The movement is already growing, getting stronger, and reputable international personalities and groups are endorsing it. Recently it was authenticated by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) which is the biggest teachers' union in Europe. It can greatly help to legitimize the calls of a unity government in Palestine for sanctions on Israel through its expulsion from international trade organizations. The economic impact could rattle large segments of the Israeli population and their reaction felt by their government.
However, future hopes set aside and coming back to the present, unity government on both sides is primarily an act of desperation rather than seriously setting aside differences and banging heads together to achieve a goal. At this point it would be presumptive to read it as a decision based on national interest nor as representing the visions of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Coalitions based on factional interests that do not cater to the needs of the masses are extremely fragile more often than not. Additionally, both Israel and the U.S. are thoroughly astute and deft at assessing and wrecking up such bonds with the 'divide and conquer' stratagem to protect their political interests. Usually the guile involves nepotism, granting unjust favors to one side, causing resentment to the other, followed by gradual disagreements between the two factions, sowing dissension, pitting them against each other and eventually a total split. It has happened before. There is no reason why it cannot happen again.
But at the end of the day, what's truly awesome and marvelous is the resilience and restraint of the Palestinian people who have made it ample clear that despite their selfish leaders, despite those numerous checkpoints, the demolitions of their homes and schools, bulldozing of their farmlands, land confiscations for construction of illegal Jewish settlements, widespread unemployment, starvation, lack of potable water, random arrests, indefinite incarcerations, torture, rape and child abuse in prisons and much more, the Palestinians are there to stay .. to rebuild their lives, and to continue their endeavors. They're not leaving their indigenous homeland. They are not going away anywhere. It makes Ms. Buttu's opinion of a popular resistance and not an armed resistance more possible in the future. But human endurance has limits and the Palestinians are no exceptions. Persecution by Israel's apartheid regime is much too severe and only getting more grueling by the day. Palestine is precisely the place to be called a "powder keg," unity government or not.