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September 25, 2006
Palestinian Situation Crumbling

Mahmoud Abbas says he will try once more to get Hamas into a unity government that will abide by the agreements signed with Israel, but several militias threatened open rebellion to any government that offers official recognition of Israel. The developments leave the Palestinian Authority with almost no mandate and no chance to convince the West to restart aid to the territories:

Four Palestinian armed groups on Sunday threatened to target any Palestinian government that recognizes Israel's right to exist and attacked Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for "succumbing" to US pressure.

The latest threat came as Abbas was preparing to travel to the Gaza Strip for another round of talks with PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh over the formation of a joint Hamas-Fatah government.

Abbas is demanding that the political program of the proposed government recognize Israel and honor all previous agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel. Hamas leaders have rejected Abbas's demand, saying they would never join a government that recognizes Israel and the Oslo Accords.

PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas was scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Monday to resume talks with Hamas's Haniyeh about the possibility of forming a unity government. According to the officials, this would be Abbas's final attempt to persuade Hamas to change its policies before he dissolves the Hamas-led government and calls early elections.

Elections may be the best option now for Abbas. The terrorist-led assembly has melted down the Palestinian economy and cut off all aid from Western governments with their hard-line refusals to engage Israel on a two-state solution. Even if Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh could agree to Abbas' demands, the rank and file of Hamas would probably revolt and start taking their orders from Khaled Mashaal in Damascus.

Palestinians have to make the decision about whether they want to engage Israel in peace or annihilation. They elected Hamas instead of the somewhat more moderate Fatah early this year, sending Israel and the world the message that they wanted war. That choice destroyed their economy, and when Hamas refused to stop the missile attacks from Gaza and kidnapped Gilad Shalit instead, that choice brought them a more intense war than they have seen in years.

Do they still want war? An election would answer that question. If they reject Hamas and elect Fatah, they might intend on a peaceful coexistence. However, the best solution for Palestinians would be to reject all of these terrorist-based political parties and start forming another based on rational thinking and realistic expectations. If they did that and elected leaders who really worked for peace, then Israel would gladly start negotiating an end to the occupation.

The choice is theirs. Abbas should dissolve the PA government and force Palestinians to tell the world whether they want to act responsibly or whether they want total war. It would provide another moment of clarity in the ongoing meltdown in the territories.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 25, 2006 5:08 AM

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