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May 7, 2006
Israel Saves Abbas

In a strange, ironic twist, Israel saved Mahmoud Abbas from assassination at the hands of Hamas, the London Times reports this morning. The armed wing of the "political party" had planned on murdering Abbas on a visit to his office in Gaza before Israeli intelligence discovered the plot and stopped Abbas from walking into the trap:

A HAMAS plot to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has been thwarted after he was tipped off by Israeli intelligence.

Hamas’s military wing, the Izza Din Al-Qassem, had planned to kill Abbas at his office in Gaza, intelligence sources said.

Abbas, who became president of the Palestinian Authority last year after the death of Yasser Arafat, was formally warned of the danger by the Israelis and cancelled a planned visit to the territory.

The murder plan is the clearest sign yet of the tensions inside the Palestinian Authority between Hamas, which swept to power after elections in January, and Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Hamas leaders, who refuse to recognise the state of Israel, suspect Abbas of obstructing their attempts to govern, which have been hampered by a financial boycott from donor nations. “Hamas considers Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over Palestine and decided to kill him,” said a Palestinian source who was an adviser to Arafat and is a close acquaintance of Abbas.

This certainly reveals a society in its last stages before an all-out civil war. The lack of any true civilian government in the Palestinian Authority has created this situation, which was the reason that all of the accords giving Arafat power in the territories insisted on the disarming of all militias and terror groups. Arafat may have had a high enough profile and enough support from the Palestinians to accomplish this if he tried; he almost surely was the only person who could have tried it. Instead, he chose to support a series of intifadas and allowed his ostensible rivals to keep their arms -- an indication that they really were not rivals, at least not then.

Now they are political rivals, and even more than that. That comes as a direct result of the defiance shown by Arafat over the years when he supported terrorist attacks instead of consolidating power into the state apparatus. He never clearly understood that the West only really needed him for that one task, and that was partly because the West failed to force any consequences on Arafat for his defiance and refusals. Had Arafat created a real police force instead of a Department of Sinecures for his Fatah fighters and political cronies, Abbas could have exercised some control over the terrorists and militias now.

As it is, no one has the mandate to disarm the various factions. Arafat's death also brought an end to any kind of Palestinian cohesion. Unless the Palestinians wise up and start forming political parties rather than endorsing lunatic terrorist groups, civil war may be the only way to resolve the internal direction of this failed protostate.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 7, 2006 8:56 AM

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Tracked on May 8, 2006 4:59 AM


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