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April 25, 2006
The Check Is Not In The Mail

The Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority has claimed that it does not need American and European cooperation to survive, requesting and receiving pledges for stop-gap financing from Arab nations as well as Russia to avoid complying with the conditions necessary to do business with the US and the EU. Having refused to recognize Israel's right to exist and to honor previous commitments made by the PA, Hamas has instead gone the route of full defiance, relying on their brethren in the Middle East to sustain them. However, the terrorists have underestimated the extent of a Western crackdown on finances during wartime:

Banks fearful of U.S. retribution are preventing millions of dollars in foreign aid from reaching the Palestinians, the Palestinian finance minister acknowledged Tuesday.

Since a Cabinet run by the militant Islamic Hamas was sworn into office last month, financial pressure by
Israel and Western countries has left the government broke. It was unable to pay 165,000 workers on April 1 and paychecks are due again in less than a week.

Hamas turned to Arab and Muslim countries for help. But the money raised remains stuck in an account in Egypt, said Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek of Hamas. Arab banks that do business in the Palestinian territories fear that by transferring the money they will run afoul of U.S. anti-terrorism laws, he said.

Hamas apparently forgot about the squeeze on terrorist banking since 9/11, and their fellow Arabs do not seem terribly interested in defying the US to help them out. After all of the pledges Hamas received in the last two weeks, they now find that the real trick will be in collections. One wonders if the Arab kleptocrats understood this obstacle all along and felt free to pledge all they could in order to please their subjects, knowing that the money would go nowhere as long as Hamas remained intransigent.

That puts the Palestinians in a real bind, and Hamas in the crosshairs in a big way. They came to power on promises to end corruption, spread the wealth of Western aid to everyone, and to push the Israelis into the sea. Hamas expected to get assistance in all of these efforts from their cousins across Southwest Asia, and now they discover that the other nations care more for their lucrative financial interests with Europe and America than they do for green-kerchiefed lunatics in Ramadi.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Hamas.

The new government will rapidly face a breaking point. If they cannot pay the workers in the government, the people will soon grow completely disenchanted with Hamas' rule. If they capitulate and agree to negotiations with Israel, the fanatics will kill them. If they vacillate, Fatah will take control by force. In almost all of these scenarios, Hamas suffers crippling political defeats. The Palestinians will have to face the literal as well as figurative bankruptcy of their political choices.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 25, 2006 8:20 PM

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