Algeria is Perhaps Palestinians' Most Loyal Ally - Here's Why
Over the years, the Palestinians have received more that half a billion dollars from the Algerian government. They have also received military support and training, along with regional and international backing.
Relations between Fatah, that controls the West Bank, and Hamas, in charge of the Gaza Strip, have seen many ups and downs since 2007, when the Islamic group seized power in the enclave driving out forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.
But those ties have hit a low ebb. Three weeks ago, forces loyal to President Abbas entered Jenin, launching an operation aimed at curbing the threat of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, who are active in the area.
Tensions between the two also flared up in Lebanon following a deadly shooting at a Palestinian refugee camp
earlier this month, when four members of Hamas were killed, allegedly by Fatah militants.
Fighting for Palestinian Unity
Local experts have already reiterated that such tensions could harm the chances of reconciliation, something that could potentially damage Palestinians' international and regional standing. But there are also those who've decided to take matters into their own hands and bridge the gap between the two.
Algeria has been one of the key actors on that front. At the beginning of December, the country's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated his nation was willing to host a meeting between Palestinian factions "soon".
Algiers is also planning to host the Arab League summit in March 2022
, where one of the central topics will be the Palestinian issue and ways to overcome the crisis.
Kamel Mansari, news director for Le Jeune Independant, one of the leading outlets in the North African nation, says the Palestinian issue is close to the hearts of the Algerian people because it reminds them of "the horrible sufferings" the nation went through at the hands of French colonialists that controlled the country for 132 years.
"The issue of colonialism is very sensitive in Algeria. And this is why almost every home in Algeria has a Palestinian flag or any other symbol that connects them to the Al Aqsa Mosque or Jerusalem that they consider the capital of free Palestine".
Standing by the Palestinians
Yet, Algerian support for the Palestinians hasn't been limited to symbolism. In 1967, during the Six-Day War, it backed Arab allies by sending troops and aircraft. It took a similar move six years later, during the Yom Kippur War, and it trained militants from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and provided them with weapons.
On the financial front, Algeria has been one of the most active donors. In 2010, it was reported that the North African nation donated more than $600 million to the Palestinians
over the course of ten years.
And, recently, Algiers has pledged $100 million to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to help it to fight the economic crisis in the area.
On the international stage, Algeria has been one of the most vocal voices in favour of the Palestinians. In 1979, it cut relations with Egypt following the latter's recognition of Israel and in 1994 it raised eyebrows at Jordan for choosing to take a similar path.
"Most Algerians are opposed to normalisation with Israel as long as the lands of the Palestinians are still occupied and Jewish colonies [settlements - ed.] are built", said Mansari.
"And the act of recognising Israel is considered an act of treason and a total denial of the Palestinians' right for freedom and an independent state", he added.
No to Recognition
Algeria's western neighbour Morocco thinks otherwise. In December 2020, Rabat inked a normalisation agreement with Israel, opening the door to economic, security, and military cooperation between the two nations.
Earlier that year, normalisation pacts were also signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who established ties with the Jewish state under the US-brokered Abraham Accords.
When pacts have been signed, the general feeling was that the Palestinian cause has been largely neglected. But Mansari says it will never be the case for the Algerians. His country won't be one of those recognising Israel.
"The Algerian authorities condition any peace talks with Israel by returning to the pre-1967 borders and the implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338", explained the journalist. "They also know that taking any steps towards Israel will stir massive protests on the streets of Algeria and [I doubt they are ready to] take that risk".