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March 10, 2005
Palestinian Democrats In Action

For those who believed that the fraudulent presidential elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip signaled a turn towards peace and stability in Israeli-Palestinian relations, be prepared for more disappointment. Not only has President Mahmoud Abbas failed to control the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the territories, allowing them to continue attacks in Israel, but now it at least appears he can't even control the terrorists in his own political faction:

More than 20 Palestinian gunmen burst into a large gathering of the ruling Fatah party on Thursday, ordering people out of the building and firing shots into the air.

Roughly 1,200 Fatah activists had gathered in a Ramallah hotel to discuss upcoming parliamentary elections when the gunmen burst into the building, said Dimitri Diliani, a party activist from Jerusalem.

The gunmen broke chairs, ordered everyone out of the building and fired shots into the air outside the building, he said. No one was injured, but the meeting did not resume.

The gunmen were part of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group loosely affiliated with Fatah.

They aren't "loosely affiliated"; they take their orders from Fatah leadership, which formed the terrorist group to compete with Hamas and IJ for street cred. Two possibilities exist for this attack by their own brand of thugs: either Abbas is such a weak sister that he cannot keep even them from disrupting the peace, or Abbas is deliberately using these tactics to set himself up as Arafat Lite, a dictator with a better public-relations persona. Neither possibility lends itself to much optimism about progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations or a settlement of the West Bank and Gaza.

I suspect that Abbas did this deliberately, shaken after the local council elections that showed Palestinians preferred the radical terrorist approach of Hamas 2-1 over so-called Fatah reform. I warned that this would happen in January after Fatah's humiliation at the polls. Abbas does not have a mandate for a compromise peace solution and any attempt to impose one will likely get him killed and certainly strip him of power. Until the Palestinians themselves choose peace and form a new political party that champions it, terrorists of similar stripe will continue to do what they do best: terrorize instead of govern.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 10, 2005 6:12 AM

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