Alan Johnston has been freed after over 16 weeks of capture. Hamas has had an important part in getting him out of the hands of his kidnappers. However, Abbas and his Fatah argue that the release was staged to put Hamas back in position for new negotiations, as rightful and acceptable leader of the Palestinian people. They say Hamas had been involved in the kidnapping in the first place and cannot, therefore, be a legitimate, internationally accepted representative of the Palestinian society.
Now, the sub-text of this episode is, of course, the inner-Palestinian dispute over who gets to rule a country that doesn't even exist yet. The international community, with the USA and Israel at its forefront, are fuelling this dispute in order to weaken the (democratically elected) Islamists whom they have tried to isolate ever since they won the elections, regardless of the fact that the immense dependency of all Palestinian institutions on foreign aid will force any Palestinian administration to look for alternative sources if need be.
It is understandable that the international community is worried about fundamentalists and terrorists in their midst, no question about that. However, it should be clear by now that fresh thinking is needed with regard to the Israel/Palestine issue - and, with all due respect, concerning a world order that is getting more complex by the hour. Neither should the international community go back to structures which have been established in the Cold War, nor should it shy away from multilateralism and instruments of international law.
By the bye, until Hamas won the last elections, there had been cooperation with its institutions on numerous levels. This may not have made the headlines, but both Fatah and international donors have worked with their representatives, and, by the way, Israeli politicians have, too. There is always a way of "living and letting live" on the levels below of what is commonly called "high politics".
So why not focus on the Palestinian public, for a change, who is suffering from severe economic restraints and poor living conditions, and who is in many cases completely ignored by its political elites? How can the international community help them? Certainly not by fuelling the dispute between the two main fractions of Palestinian party politics, I dare say. Politics should be about the people, or at least that's what students of political science are taught around the world. So analyse before you judge, think out of the box, and take a risk that may turn out not to have been one in the first place.