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February 10, 2007
Hamas Wins In New Unity Government

The Mecca accord which appears to have halted the slide towards civil war in the Palestinian territories -- at least momentarily -- has not produced any movement towards peace with Israel. In fact, it appears that Hamas has won a victory for its policy on Israel, which means that even the weak prospects for peace under Mahmoud Abbas appear dead:

Officials from Hamas and Israel dashed hopes yesterday that a Palestinian unity deal reached in the Saudi holy city of Mecca would end a crippling economic embargo or lead to a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

"Our battle with the Israeli enemy is still on," Fathi Hamad, a Hamas leader in Gaza's Jebaliya refugee camp, told thousands of supporters.

He urged militant groups to resume attacks on Israel and denied that Hamas would respect past peace deals with the Jewish state -- a central element of the accord between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas brokered by Saudi diplomats Thursday.

"We will be the spearhead of jihad ... to defend Palestine and Arab and Muslim nations," Mr. Hamad said, according to an Associated Press dispatch from Gaza.

It's no surprise that Hamas would win out in its quest to annihilate Israel. Their entire organization unites around that concept, and no faction within Hamas would produce a leader that would reverse it. On the other hand, Mahmoud Abbas has plenty of people within Fatah that also want to see the peace of genocide rather than co-existence, and Abbas -- if he truly wants co-existence at all -- probably represents a minority within his ranks.

The Mecca accord basically ratifies the election of thirteen months ago. It places Hamas in control of a majority of ministries, and Khaled Mashaal in charge of the Palestinian Authority through the proxy of Ismail Haniyeh. That means that Bashar Assad, Mashaal's patron, pulls the strings from Damascus, and now the entire PA can act as a Syrian proxy, rather than just the Hamas faction.

That assumes that the Mecca accord will hold. It has the appearance of strength, as the agreement goes beyond the normal cease-fires and hudnas by implementing a long-term power sharing arrangement. The Arab world hailed the partnership and demanded an end to the embargo that has crippled the PA. However, if they do not adopt the agreement signed by the PLO and accept the two-state solution as a permanent arrangement for peace, Western nations will not likely restart the aid which has kept the PA afloat before 2006, and the economic impact of that will almost certainly result in new tensions between the factions. Even with aid, the long history of conflict between Hamas and Fatah will be difficult to overcome in the short term.

France, of course, has taken the lead in the West by demanding the return of aid to the PA. Phillipe Douste-Blazy, best known for his idiotic statement last year that Iran is a force for stability in the region, assumed that the participants in the accord actually meant what it said when it adopted the language about respecting prior agreements. Tioday's statements from Hamas make it clear that French naiveté continues to keep abreast of Palestinian duplicity.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2007 7:55 AM

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