June 15, 2007

Hamas To Grant Amnesty To Fatah Leaders

The transcendent Hamas leadership in Gaza has decided not to execute captured Fatah leaders, and will release them soon as a gesture of goodwill. Hamas continues to consolidate its power in Gaza, however, and the government in the West Bank has started to shed itself of Hamas as a result:

Victorious Hamas gunmen rounded up senior military leaders of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip early Friday, then announced a general amnesty in a sign the Islamic movement is seeking to reconcile with its secular rivals after five days of fierce fighting.

The announcement defused worries that Hamas, which completed its swift military seizure of Gaza hours earlier, would begin dispensing victor's justice in the strip. In announcing the arrest of the commanders of the vanquished Fatah-controlled security services, Hamas officials called them "collaborators," a label indicating they work on behalf of Israel and can often mean a death sentence in the Palestinian territories.

But a few hours later, as Gaza residents emerged from their homes to walk in streets quiet for the first time in days, Hamas officials said the commanders, including the head of the Fatah-controlled Presidential Guard and the Palestinian National Forces, would not be harmed.

Abbas fired Ismail Haniyeh yesterday, and the rest of the Hamas cabinet ministers have been shown the door. Haniyeh called this a "mistake" and assured his Fatah "brothers" that he wanted to continue working with them. After the insurrection committed by Haniyeh's party, however, he should consider himself fortunate not to be in prison or worse.

In order to clarify the new situation, Abbas says he wants to hold new elections. Given that the PA's writ no longer extends to Gaza, that means an all-West Bank election, which Fatah will surely win overwhelmingly, especially in this political climate. Abbas wants to rebuild his power base quickly and show that he has control over the more prosperous area -- and that he can deliver a deal to the Israelis if necessary, who have to see Abbas as a rather weak sister at the moment.

The Washington Post sees this collapse as Bush's fault, naturally:

Five years ago this month, President Bush stood in the Rose Garden and laid out a vision for the Middle East that included Israel and a state called Palestine living together in peace. "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror," the president declared.

The takeover this week of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group dedicated to the elimination of Israel demonstrates how much that vision has failed to materialize, in part because of actions taken by the administration. The United States championed Israel's departure from the Gaza Strip as a first step toward peace and then pressed both Israelis and Palestinians to schedule legislative elections, which Hamas unexpectedly won. Now Hamas is the unchallenged power in Gaza.

After his reelection in 2004, Bush said he would use his "political capital" to help create a Palestinian state by the end of his second term. In his final 18 months as president, he faces the prospect of a shattered Palestinian Authority, a radical Islamic state on Israel's border and increasingly dwindling options to turn the tide against Hamas and create a functioning Palestinian state.

We've seen some of the same nonsense in comments here, and that's exactly what it is -- nonsense. People have been pushing for a two-state solution since at least Oslo, but no one wanted to confront the reality of the Palestinian condition. Holding elections and withdrawing from Gaza proved what many had tried to tell the world: that the Palestinians weren't interested in two-state solutions.

In a free and fair election, the people get the government they choose. The Palestinians chose the worst of two terrorist groups to govern them. That finally forced the US and the EU to quit pretending that the Palestinians as a whole were a peace-loving people who just wanted their own piece of land. The Palestinians want to destroy Israel, and they voted for the faction that most clearly expressed that desire as policy.

When Sharon withdrew from Gaza, it gave the Palestinians the opportunity to govern themselves. Did they take advantage of it? No. Instead, they immediately set up rocket-launching sites in northern Gaza to attack the Israelis in Sderot, and started killing each other in gangster-like power plays. The PA proved itself completely impotent once given a taste of sovereignty, and instead the radical Islamists have taken over Gaza in that power vacuum.

The Bush administration didn't fail in delivering a two-state solution, because that solution has never existed in reality. The Palestinians don't want it, and the elections made them take responsibility for that position publicly. The elections and Gaza withdrawal just made everyone take off the blinders -- a move that Saeb Erekat rightly said has set back Palestinians more than 50 years.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Hamas To Grant Amnesty To Fatah Leaders:

» The Captain Explains palestinian Thought from white pebble
Via Captain’s Quarters, “Hamas To Grant Amnesty To Fatah Leaders”: The Bush administration didn’t fail in delivering a two-state solution, because that solution has never existed in reality. The Palestinians don’t want it... [Read More]

Comments (27)

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 15, 2007 8:32 AM

Powerline is saying that Iran made Hamas do it. i simply cannot understand how a backwards (although fairly rich) country can support murder and mayhem in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Gaza, while at the same time, America is supposed to be over-stretched in just Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't doubt that Iran supports violence where-ever it may raise its head, but in the case of Gaza, it seems more likely to apply the simple Occam's Razor reason of murderers breeding murderers has paid off with murder. In other words, let's allow the dreadful Palestinians the adult honor of taking responsibility for their own actions, without imagining shadowy uber-mullah's pulling their strings in the background..

Posted by Lew | June 15, 2007 8:43 AM

I disagree Cap'n.

When offered the opportunity to govern themselves, the Palestinians did exactly that; they took ownership of the openly expressed Hamas policy of aggressive terrorism and now they bear the responsibility for its consequences. I will grant everyone the notion that the choice between a kleptocrat and a terrorist isn't much of a choice, but it is a choice that has consequences. The same judgment that history rendered upon the Germans who freely chose Hitler, now comes down on the Palestinians with equal fury.

Just because we have a right to choose, doesn't mean we will always choose wisely. It just means we freely accept responsibility for our choices.

Posted by Captain Ed | June 15, 2007 8:56 AM

That's what I thought I said. The Palestinians have been forced to accept responsibility for their choices.

Posted by vet66 | June 15, 2007 9:14 AM

Note to Jimmy Carter;

Is this the Roadmap to Peace you discussed in your book? When does your definition of apartheid apply to the Israelis who are now surrounded on four sides by those who profess a desire to annihilate them?

If Iran succeeds in the destruction of Israel through their proxies Hezbollah, Syria, Egypt, Hamas, and al qaeda this summer, will you take responsibility for aiding and abetting the enemies of the West?

Key in the sounds of crickets!

Posted by rbj | June 15, 2007 9:23 AM

Iran is using proxies in Lebannon & Gaza, as well as in Afgahnistan & Iraq, all it's doing is supplying funds and mostly low tech weapons.

It'll be interesting to see if Egypt does anything with the Iranian backed terrorists right on her doorstep.

Posted by Lew | June 15, 2007 9:33 AM

Cap'n, pardon me for picking this nit far past the point of usefulness, but this is what seems to contradict the overall idea of the post:
"When Sharon withdrew from Gaza, it gave the Palestinians the opportunity to govern themselves. Did they take advantage of it? No. Instead,...."

It seems to me that they did indeed take advantage of the opportunity offered, but they did a very dumb thing with it and now they own the consequences.

Maybe the real problem here is that I've just got way too much time on my hands this morning!

Posted by sherlock | June 15, 2007 9:39 AM

It's very easy for compatively weak states like Iran to succed where we cannot... they have no hesitation to ruthlessly pursure their interests and no internal doubts about the worthiness their goals.

We, on the other hand, have Democrats.

Posted by Immolate | June 15, 2007 9:49 AM

It is a toss-up whether the West is more guilty of overestimating Arab and Persian fighting capability, or underestimating Arab and Persian devotion to an endless cycle of fueding and retaliation.

Excepting Israel, the only danger the Middle East poses militarily is to each other. We routinely give the Arabs and Iran far too much credit for being able to put up a fight. The US alone could open military campaigns in every ME nation at one time and the outcome would not be in doubt.

But to change the philosophy and sudue the hate in the smallest of them is beyond our means. Sometimes, only hitting bottom can force a people to look up.

Posted by patrick neid | June 15, 2007 10:10 AM

i realize i am going out on a limb but i believe sharon and bush basically planned this whole thing. it was the simple notion that murdering criminal organizations will always revert to form. nothing i can see has changed from this earlier post after bush and sharon had a couple of meetings and the dems and world press called them any number of names starting with hitler and naziis.

January 7th, 2006 at 9:02 pm

as a life long follower of politics-local and international-the democractic party supports israel when it gets votes. it has not supported sharon. why? because bush does. the wall and the vacating of gaza and the coming sections of the west bank are part of the bush/sharon policy of granting palestine statehood. why? so that in the future when/if the palestinians don’t control their terrorists israel can take preemptive action, if need be,
against a state–not a group/people. the UN sanctions and Geneva conventions allow for such actions. this reality is slowly dawning on hamas as i type. the wall is the statehood boundary. the new palestine will be exposed as the criminal organization it has always been. other nations will then be restrained and or prevented from giving their financial support. previously nations, especially europe, hid behind the “oppressed minority” screen while they made their donations to Arafat et al–the thugoracy of the middle east. i would imagine that palestine will get its statehood within a couple of years effectively bringing this 60 year charade to an end. finally. while they celebrate in the streets the trojan horse will have been wheeled into place.

sharon was a great man. he will be missed in ways we don’t yet know.

Posted by vet66 | June 15, 2007 10:25 AM

In addition, the Palestinians and jihadists have a force-mulitplier while U.S. troops have a force divider, so to speak.

The former have no qualms about shooting from behind innocents and mosques while the U.S. troops are hamstrung by ROE that guarantee front page photos of collateral damage in pursuit of the terrorists.

Sharon and the U.S. gave the Palestinians a chance to create a sovereign state that could be responded to in a robust manner when they inevitably attacked Israel. Sharon and the U.S. could not have anticipated Sharon's catastrophic health problem. Olmert failed to carry the banner behind Halutz after Sharon departed the scene. The paradigm between Israel and West Bank/Gaza shifted dramatically.

This summer will tell the tale. The backstory on this conflict will be how well the mullahs in Iran can control Ahmadinejad. The fate of the ME is in the balance.

Posted by nandrews3 | June 15, 2007 10:46 AM

Hey, Ed, what exactly makes you such a well-qualified expert on the Palestinian people, as a whole -- such a knowledgeable resource on this subject that you can dismiss other commenters' views as "nonsense"?

The only thing you have here to prove your claim about "the reality of the Palestinian condition" -- that a two-state solution "never existed in reality" because "the Palestinians don't want it" -- is the outcome of a single election. And, honestly, what else have you got? The only firsthand representations of Arab views I've ever seen on this blog have been spoon-fed to you by MEMRI and the Jerusalem Post.

Have you ever spoken with a Palestinian person at all? You don't read Arab sources. You don't cite non-Israeli experts on Arab matters. If you have a single claim to any particular knowledge about Palestinians -- let alone expertise -- I don't see it. And yet here you are, talking down to others, because you're the one who grasps "the reality of the Palestinian condition."

By now, perhaps the peace process is irretrievable, but it's a sign either of ignorance or dishonesty -- or probably both, in Ed's case -- to say that the process was doomed from the start because Palestinians as a whole have always rejected two-state solutions. For several years before the intifada resumed, Palestinian exiles were returning from abroad, hoping to be part of the new life of their independent state, building new homes, businesses, tourist hotels, and the like. The constituency for a peace settlement was substantial, and influential. It was reflected in the work of advocates like Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi, and rising politicians like Marwan Barghouti. Arafat himself -- always the weathervane -- had to accommodate it.

That time appears to be long past. But to claim that it never existed is, to use Ed's own word, nonsense, which serves only to let leaders off the hook for their own shared failures. Radicals bent on sacrificing everything to bring Israel down were, like peace process supporters, a segment of the public. The growing radicalization of the broader public and the silencing of the peace lobby was a political failure, whether we recognize it or not. People like Ed, who promote their own uninformed mental images of Palestinians as an undifferentiated mass, are basically trying to hide the reality of this failure.

Nobody puts all the blame on Bush, but he bears his share. It's undeniably a disaster for U.S. policy to have staked everything on a Fatah election victory (after allowing the party, and what little governing ability it had, to be undermined for so long). If Gaza keeps morphing into an outpost of fundamentalist Islamism, then the calculations underlying the neglect of the peace process in recent years are going to look ever worse.

And so are people like Ed, who failed to grasp what America's and Israel's long-term security interests actually were -- and instead kept venting their own hatred, fear, ignorance, and "nonsense."

Posted by LeaningRt | June 15, 2007 11:03 AM

nandrews is correct, Ed should never have let his "The Gaza Times" subscription run out. Ed is just simply ignoring all the eloquently peaceful journals that are pouring out of Palestine asking the world to interpret their violence as a reaction to the unfair policies of the west.

Perhaps Ed should travel to Palestine to get a "man on the street" interview. Oh wait, they would shoot him in the head. Yeah, nevermind.

I have a writing assignment for you nandrews, try to think up one way in which the Palestinians have dug there own grave. After you can prove any objectivity, then continue on your rant about how Palestinians have been driven to pull people out on the street and execute them in full view by the West.

Posted by Ben | June 15, 2007 11:20 AM


Ed is not wrong here, the failure is Palestinian, and I can explain exactly why. The fact is, opinion amongst Palestinians was, has been, and will be diverse- and I HAVE talked to Palestinians. But the other fact is that the Palestinians have always been overly indulgent of that diversity. The extremist mob on the far side was coddled, never really ideologically opposed. One the one hand you have Israel forcibly removing its settlers from Gaza, on the other, Palestinians bascially accepting the actions of the most extreme members of their population. Suicide bombers are not heros- and neither are fanatic hold-out settlers who have to be carried out by the Israeli Army. But while the Israelis have done and will do their duty in the second case, the Palestinians have not moved to rip down the posters, change the television propaganda, and otherwise sway their own public discourse concerning terrorists. By not confronting and challenging their own dark side, the Palestinians have brought this all on themselves- and it has nothing to do with the isolation or poverty of Gaza. If the Gaza strip was ten thousand times larger and had no Israel bordering it, but had the same psycho-social issues, lawlessness, and lionizing of violence it would simply be Somalia.


Posted by Adjoran | June 15, 2007 11:38 AM

Naturally, if Israel had adopted the tactics Hamas is currently using against Fatah, the Euro=peons and nonsense-spewing morons everywhere would be screaming their fool heads off condemning the eeeevil Joooos. Yet, when Islamic radicals like Hamas do it, ho-hum, business as usual, blame Bush - if only a little, but you can't have a problem that isn't at least a little bit his fault, now, can you? Including halitosis and prickly heat . . .

But we have come to expect such wanton violence from the Islamists. We recognize them as barbarians even if we are afraid to mention it - it might "ignite the 'street'," ya know - and what point is there is mentioning that barbarians act like barbarians? It is their nature, after all.

The error is assuming barbarians will ever act in a civilized way until they are completely defeated. It's the only way known throughout centuries of history, going back even so far as the 7th Century the barbarian Islamists want to return the world to.

Posted by doubled | June 15, 2007 11:39 AM

nandrews3, show me one Palestinian LEADER who has stepped forward to agree to Israel's existance. Abbas has come close and look what it has brought him. Civil war , which is the bane of existance to progressives when it comes to Iraq, but ignored in 'Palestine'.

When you see school kids TRAINED to hate a race of people , to train for violence as means to any and all ends, you have to be obtuse to say that there aren't problems in their society.

As a thought experiment , imagine if our schoolkids were trained to hate say blacks, and to do anything to terminate their existance. Would you defend that as voiciferously?

Posted by doubled | June 15, 2007 11:43 AM

Ben ,well said, bravo.

Posted by nandrews3 | June 15, 2007 12:07 PM


I agree, to an extent, with what you say about moderates failing to confront the extremists in their midst -- but I disagree when you say the failure is theirs alone. Given the universal sentiments about the continuing Israeli occupation (which you must be very familiar with), the moderates always were in a self-consciously delicate position and had to tread carefully.

What we needed was a political strategy aimed at Palestine that took the range of public attitudes and sentiments fully into account and provided maximum effective support for the moderates' own efforts to build their influence so that they would ultimately prevail. If we wanted them to confront their own dark side, we needed to back them up. We never really did this because, while some U.S. officials saw it this way, others obviously didn't, and some Israelis always viewed it exactly in the opposite way and worked over time to bolster the extremists so as to head off political pressure to negotiate.

Perhaps it's been too late for some time now. Abbas and his allies have suffered the political costs of being willing to negotiate with the occupiers, without ever gaining anything (other than bribes for themselves). And the costs are Israel's, too, and ours, to an extent we obviously didn't anticipate. You're right, the mistakes weren't ours alone, either -- but our own decisions have still been critical ones. Look at the decision to hold the elections, after all. This is a situation that we helped create over many years. For us to shift the blame entirely to the locals just reflects our own political gamesmanship.

Posted by doubled | June 15, 2007 12:40 PM

Two graphs from nandrews3 :
'Hey, Ed, what exactly makes you such a well-qualified expert on the Palestinian people, as a whole -- such a knowledgeable resource on this subject that you can dismiss other commenters' views as "nonsense"?'

'Given the universal sentiments about the continuing Israeli occupation (which you must be very familiar with), the moderates always were in a self-consciously delicate position and had to tread carefully.'

Funny how you change gears on who we are to believe, listen to , debate. At least Captain is a real person you can argue with . Universal sentiment, not so much so.

Posted by Bob1 | June 15, 2007 12:54 PM

"Hamas To Grant Amnesty To Fatah Leaders."

Will they also provide them a path to citizenship?

(Sorry, couldn't help it)

Posted by Carol Herman | June 15, 2007 3:31 PM

I clipped this from a poster up at Little Green Footballs.

It's good to remember Arik Sharon. And, how Rice got to hear the truth from an Israeli politician. Nah. Olmert doesn't wear those shoes.

He's just happy he's going to DC, so he can pee in a toilet at the White House. He wants that perk. Because for more than a year, now, James Baker has been trying (from backstage), to dump Olmert out of office.

This trip? So, he's a "survivor."

But this from the past is PRICELESS:

A comment. On a thread discussing how Condi Rice perceives the Mideast situation. And, yes, with Olmert coming here ... you've got two leaders who haven't got traction with the "subjects" who elect them. But this? It reminisces back to when Arik Sharon had to deal with the idiots in the USA.

And, we wonder why we're also losing in Irak? Look whose responsible for signing orders! CAROL

How do you say 'bloodthirsty' in English?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his Sycamore Ranch on the eve of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

It's a reciprocal visit, coming a few weeks after Sharon's trip to U.S. President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas. Sharon shows Rice the sheep and the fruit trees, and then the American and Israeli delegations meet for breakfast.

Sharon begins by identifying with the suffering of the Palestinians and speaks of the great opportunity that will befall them in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal. Rice's ears perk up; it's not every day that you hear Sharon displaying such empathy.

"There are only two problems," says Sharon, turning his gaze to his left. "Dov, how do you say 'bloodthirsty' in English?"

Sharon's adviser Dov Weissglas chokes on his avocado salad as an embarrassed silence fills the room. U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams translates the term. Now it's Rice's turn to choke on her salad.

"There are only two problems," repeats Sharon. "They're bloodthirsty and treacherous."

"All of them?" asks Rice. "Yes," the prime minister responds. "All of them."

Posted by ZeteBoy | June 15, 2007 5:45 PM

nandrews3 said "...continuing Israeli occupation..."

Pls explain who is occupying in Gaza? Israel pulled out a while ago. Time to get a grip and come up with a legitimate argument..... that I doubt you can find.

Posted by vet66 | June 15, 2007 6:47 PM

I do believe we just discovered why the rest of the world, Arab and otherwise, have steadfastly resisted the urge to grant citizenship to Palestinians.

The Palestinians have proven themselves incapable of rational thought regarding their own future. They have chosen the path of destruction for themselves and their future. They are reaping the whirlwind.

This is the prequel to what Reid and Pelosi are asking for in Iraq when our troops pull out before the job is done.

Posted by section9 | June 15, 2007 7:18 PM

Hey, we gave them the kind of Government they richly deserved.

This is what the Pallies voted for: Paradise and Suicide Bombing on Earth. God bless them, everyone.

Posted by Jack | June 15, 2007 8:18 PM

It is going to get worse before it gets better. Abba Eban was right.

Posted by Bennett | June 15, 2007 9:14 PM

Presumably anyone who could leave Gaza or the West Bank left long ago. Professionals and others with some money or marketable skills must have gotten out when they could.

So I assume that the only ones left are those that can't leave (or unwisely didn't when the getting was good) and their murdering psychopathic overlords. There is no future for these people. Anyone who could have invested in that future and helped to build it is gone. And I would welcome anyone who could prove me wrong.

Posted by bayam | June 16, 2007 1:13 AM

I just find the notion completely ridiculous that the United States has a self-righteous mandate to directly intervene in any region or country in the world and force 'democratic' elections- and then if anything goes wrong, absolve itself from any and all responsibility. Are you kidding me?

Does this also mean that the US isn't responsible for the current situation in Iraq? Is there a comment thread here?

It's one of the most ill-conceived and bizarre concepts that I've ever seen seriously presented by the Captain. I'll never comprehend it.

In extreme circumstances, elections don't always produce healthy results. European history is a testament to this fact.

Of course, the Palestinians voted for Hamas, not Bush. That's not the point. The point is that the Bush administration misjudged the consequences of pushing Fatah into fair elections and created a situation that allowed Hamas to claim power. Period.

Posted by alec | June 16, 2007 4:02 PM

Who is going to miss Fatah? I certainly won't