by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- If any peace agreement was reached between Israel and the Palestinians in nine months as set by the United States, the fate of the Gaza Strip would remain uncertain due to the ongoing division between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Islamic Hamas movement who controls the enclave, analysts say.
After months of intensive U.S. mediation, the Palestinians and Israel recently restarted in Washington their peace talks which had broken down in October 2010 due to an expansion of Jewish settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands.
The United States has proposed a nine-month deadline for the two sides to reach a permanent peace agreement to end their decades-long conflicts, a prospect doubted by most analysts.
In the fresh talks, the Palestinians demand a complete cessation of Jewish settlement construction on their lands occupied by Israel, the latter's recognition of a future Palestinian state in accordance with pre-1967 borders and the release of prisoners arrested before the 1993 Oslo accords were signed.
The Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, were occupied by Israel during the six-day Arab-Israeli war in June 1967. Israel pulled out from Gaza in 2005 and evacuated around 20 settlements. The enclave was seized by Hamas who routed forces loyal to Abbas in 2007.
Hani Habib, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that the ongoing negotiations "have nothing to do with the Gaza Strip."
"If we assume that Israel ends its military occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the frame of a permanent peace agreement after nine months of talks, the fate of the Gaza Strip will remain undecided because Hamas opposes any peace agreement," said Habib.
The Palestinians in Gaza expressed concerns that Hamas, which adopts an extreme ideology toward reconciliation with Fatah, may be an obstacle in the establishment of a future independent Palestinian state.
Yousef Hammad, a 24-year-old law student from Gaza, told Xinhua that the Gaza Strip is part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, "and it should be included in any permanent peace agreement regardless of who controls it."
"We are concerned that if a permanent peace deal is reached with Israel, the Gaza Strip will remain isolated under Hamas control," said Hammad.
Israel has been imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas' takeover of the enclave, though it eased the restriction in early June 2010 due to international pressure.
The Gazan people, impoverished by the Israeli siege, do not believe that the current peace talks, which are sponsored by Israel's ally, the United States, will lead to a permanent agreement within nine months.
Samer Anabtawi, a political analyst from the West Bank city of Nablus, told Xinhua that the statements of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that the talks are serious and fruitful " are just an attempt to show the positive sides of the negotiations. "
"I believe that the differences between the two sides are deep and won't be resolved within the U.S.-proposed period because of the Israeli practices on the ground, mainly settlement activities, " said Anabtawi.
According to the observers, Hamas, one offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is facing troubles after the global group was stripped off power in Egypt in early July when the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The only thing that Hamas still believes in is its armed resistance against Israel. It opposes the resumption of the talks because its leaders fear that any permanent peace deal would certainly end its resistance movement.
Sami Abu Zurhi, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Xinhua that the current talks "are giving the Israeli occupation more excuses to keep swallowing our land and uproot our people."
"The resumption of talks is a violation of the Palestinian national consensus... There has to be a strategy agreed upon by all Palestinian political powers and factions," said Abu Zuhri, opposing the unilateral decision by Abbas to "undermine" the Palestinian cause.