By Ola Atallah
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – On June 2, 2014, a Palestinian unity government was established. In the two years since, however, it has largely failed to end the rift between rival Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah -- despite an earlier reconciliation agreement inked on April 23, 2014.
The terms of the reconciliation deal have not yet been applied and the unity government has yet to assume its governing role in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Hamas continues to govern the strip, issuing decrees that the Ramallah-based unity government considers illegal.
On Tuesday, for example, Gaza’s Interior Ministry sentenced three Palestinians to death after they were convicted of murder.
Fatah, for its part, condemned the decision, blaming Hamas for aggravating the rift between the two movements.
The West Bank, meanwhile, is governed by the Palestinian presidency led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah.
Repeated efforts by Arab mediators to end the division have failed.
Mekhemar Abu Seeda, a political science professor at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, said the ongoing rift prevented the unity government from doing its duty, thus increasing the suffering of the Palestinian people.
He said the rift had led to "political and legal gaps", noting that the government had failed to resolve a number of outstanding issues, such as who has the right to operate the borders, employ civil servants in Gaza, or carry out desperately needed reconstruction work.
Abu Seeda believes that presidential and legislative elections, if held, would entirely rearrange the current Palestinian political scene.
The last presidential election was held in 2005. This was followed by 2006 legislative polls that were swept by Hamas.
Now, the two movements have so far failed to agree on a date for the next round of elections.
Hani Habib, a political writer at Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayam, says Fatah and Hamas failed the "unity test", describing the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the Fatah-run West Bank as "two separate countries".
"Neither movement has the political will to end the dispute," said Habib, urging them both to comply with the terms of the 2014 reconciliation deal.
Last September, Fatah and Hamas agreed to apply the terms of the deal following two days of talks in Cairo.
The agreement includes allowing the unity government to assume a governing role in the Gaza Strip -- but this never materialized.
Attempts to reach a settlement have also been hindered because of the unity government’s repeated failures to promptly pay the salaries of civil servants employed by Hamas.
In March, a series of meetings were held between Fatah and Hamas in Qatar to discuss mechanisms for applying the terms of the reconciliation deal.
The talks, however, failed to produce any breakthroughs.
*Anadolu Agency Correspondent Mahmoud Barakat contributed to this story from Ankara.