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Members of the Quartet, the association of nations attempting to resolve the Palestinian problem, have objected to an apparently new plan by the Bush administration to arm Fatah so it can compete with Hamas. America's partners want to support a national unity government to lift the sanctions and do whatever they can to avoid a civil war in the territories. Unfortunately, no one has the right idea about how to proceed towards a two-state peace plan:
AMERICAN proposals to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian security forces with additional guns and fighters have alarmed other Western nations, who argue that it is tantamount to supporting one faction in a potential civil war.
Fearing the strength of Hamas in Gaza, some US officials have urged that the moderate President Abbas should be given “deterrent capability” so that his Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority forces can confront the Islamist group if talks on a national unity government fail.
The divisions have led to a stand-off over the past month, with US officials saying that the unity government proposal had “no legs”. Other members of the “quartet” of international mediators — made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — say that it should be given a chance instead of arming one of the Palestinian factions. ...
Opponents argued that the international community had accepted the participation of Hamas in elections and should therefore look to support a national unity government. Hamas won elections last January but instantly became international pariahs. Sanctions and an aid freeze have left the Palestinian Government broke and unable to pay 160,000 civil servant salaries.
The Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, announced a new Middle East peace initiative with France and Italy yesterday. Central to the plan were an immediate ceasefire, a prisoner exchange, talks between the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President, international ceasefire monitors and a national unity government. Israeli officials dismissed the overture.
That's because the Israelis, who have to live with all of these factions, have a much better sense of how things work on the ground. Neither of these directions will lead to peace.
The Bush administration wants to arm Fatah in order to confront Islamic terrorism, but that's only trading one form of terrorism for another. Fatah has its own terrorist group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has been active not just against Hamas but also against Israel. Giving Mahmoud Abbas a thousand guns for street battles in the West Bank and Gaza will eventually find the bullets heading towards Israelis more than other Palestinians. And honoring Abbas' other request, to allow 1,000 exiled Badr Brigade terrorists to return to the territories, is practically begging for more attacks on Israel. Why do the territories need an infusion of terrorism? Don't they have enough?
The Quartet has proven itself just as unrealistic. They're correct that the West shouldn't arm one faction over another in the hope that a civil war starts. However, their solution is just as pie-eyed utopian as the American plan is cynical. They want to cajole Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government so that they can restart aid payments. However, the aid payments got suspended not because Hamas controlled the legislature and a weak executive, but because the Palestinian Authority reneged on its earlier agreements and refused to recognize Israel. Nowhere has Abbas or Hamas promised that a unity government would address those problems, and in fact Hamas has insisted that any unity government would continue the same policies as the Hamas-led PA.
So what you have here is an ironic choice between guns and money -- both of which would be used to fuel terrorism, both inside the PA and against Israel. Neither solution makes any sense at all.
So what should the Quartet do? Stop getting caught up in the internal political struggles of the Palestinians. Insist on full compliance with their previous agreements and the recognition of Israel, regardless of who runs the show. Make clear that any terrorist activity supported by the PA will result in even more sanctions, including the curtailing of travel by PA officials, trips that usually produce suitcases stuffed with cash for surreptitious support by friendly countries in the region.
If that means civil war, then let the Palestinians fight it out without assistance to one faction or another. In the end, we don't care which brand of terrorist runs the PA; we want them all out. The Palestinian people have to create some fresh leadership if they want to emerge from the ruins of their plight, brought upon themselves by decades of disastrous decision-making by the world's worst leadership.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Will the US arm Fatah? from No More Spin
There's an interesting report in the Times of London today. The main idea the article is that US officials may be thinking of arming Palestinian party/gang Fatah as a deterrent to Hamas. I'm not so sure I like that idea. AMERICAN proposals to str ..... [Read More]
Tracked on November 18, 2006 9:07 AM
» When No One Has It Right from Bill's Bites
When No One Has It RightEd Morrissey Members of the Quartet, the association of nations attempting to resolve the Palestinian problem, have objected to an apparently new plan by the Bush administration to arm Fatah so it can compete with [Read More]
Tracked on November 18, 2006 10:31 AM
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