June 24, 2007

Fatah Wants To Wipe Out Hamas

According to the London Telegraph, the civil war in the Palestinian territories will get even hotter over the next few days. Mahmoud Abbas plans to shut down private organizations that support Hamas or act as front groups. Fatah militias may not bother to wait for that review, and have already started attacking Hamas assets in Islamist strongholds such as Nablus:

It is just 12 days since Hamas fighters staged their putsch in Gaza, routing Fatah security forces and forcing the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to declare an emergency, sack the Hamas-led unity government and appoint a new one without the Islamists.

Since then, the Fatah party has embarked on settling the score with its Islamist rivals in the West Bank, its commanders vowing to eradicate Hamas.

Many fear that the showdown will further radicalise the Palestinian territories, and risks triggering a renewed wave of suicide bomb attacks against Israel. Hamas launched dozens of attacks against the Jewish state, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians, but has largely abided by a ceasefire for the past two years. ...

Although Fatah is the dominant force across much of the West Bank, Hamas still has strongholds - not least Nablus - where its candidates won enough votes 18 months ago to propel it to power.

In the past week, Hamas-controlled city councils, including that in Nablus, have been disbanded by decree of militant Fatah members.

It seems that all of the hatred and malice that has stewed in the territories and usually directed at the Israelis have been turned inward. Each side has started to "disappear" their opponents, and the situation in the West Bank may turn as grim as that in Gaza, at least for the moment. Fatah militias, whose control by Abbas may be questionable, have begun their own purge of Islamists, furious at their betrayal in Gaza.

The Israelis may find the situation temporarily just as bad. Hamas has threatened to start terrorist attacks in Israel again, ostensibly because Israel is backing Fatah in this civil war. The real reason may be an attempt to get ordinary Palestinians back on their side to force Fatah into talks. Hamas made the claim yesterday that they didn't want to run Gaza, but to end disruptions by rogue Fatah militias -- an odd claim for a group that attacked Palestinian Authority security installations and Abbas' Gaza compound. They're trying to win a PR war that they lost in their insurrection.

Abbas, however, sees an opening for his own ambitions. Mostly free from having to appease the Islamists, he can pursue normal relations with the West and with the moderate Arab nations that dislike Hamas almost as much as Israel does. He can once again get his hands on aid monies in hard currency and use it to prop up his failing political fortunes.

The only way to do that, though, is to make progress in peace negotiations, and this time Egypt and Jordan will demand real action from Abbas, unlike in the past. They see Hamas' rise as an Iranian attempt at encirclement in the region, and they want to end the conflict which allowed Hamas to gain that kind of power in the first place. They can't afford to act like bystanders any longer, which is why both of them demanded that Abbas come to Sharm el Sheikh with his pencils sharpened.

Will it be enough? Abbas has certainly talked tough, claiming that Hamas would never be allowed back into the government, but that's easier said than done. Egypt tried the same thing with Hamas' parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, which just went underground instead -- and gets its candidates elected as independents. The coming catastrophe in Gaza may be enough to finish Hamas politically, however, especially if Abbas can cut a deal with Israel that brings an end to military occupation peacefully and with prosperity for the West Bank. For the first time, Abbas has more incentive to do that than to continue Yasser Arafat's suicidal policies of the past. Let's see if Abbas has the brains to realize it.


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Comments (12)

Posted by mr.ed | June 24, 2007 10:58 AM

Fatah got beaten in the elections because they were corrupt. Now everybod has to pay the price. Supporting them is truly the lesser of two tremendous evils. I say to hell with them all.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 24, 2007 11:00 AM

Editorial in GulfNews out of Dubai talking about how wonderful it will be for Gaza now that Hamas has taken over, that all the like-minded people who are still there will support Hamas, and Hamas will protect and take very good care of them just like they were elected to do.

And shame on America for not supporting a democratically-elected Hamas, which we had promised to do if the Arabs just used democracy instead of terrorism.

I want some of what these Arab editorial writers are smoking.

Posted by davod | June 24, 2007 11:16 AM

Doesn't anyone else smell a rat. The Palestinians were not going to get any money until Hamas was gone.

1. Hamas takes over Gaza with little opposition from Fatah.

2. Abass, from the West Bank, disolves parliament and declares war on Hamas.

3. US and Israel declare support for Abass because Hamas is no longer part of the government. Money and arms will be forthcoming. Abbass says some money will go to Gaza.

Am I missing something here or could Hamas and fatah have made a deal to get access to aid.

I should also say that the position of the US and Israel increasingly looks like that of the Europeans before Hitler went in to Poland. Do anything, make any deal, cede any land to avoid facing the truth - Hitler had no intention of stopping, just as the Arabs have no intention of stopping until the Israelis are wiped off the map.

Posted by Philip | June 24, 2007 12:02 PM

"but has largely abided by a ceasefire for the past two years"


Who writes this tripe?

To Abbas: It is now or never. Evil just blinked. There can be no delay. Or you and your people will be lost forever. Now Abu Mazen; now.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 24, 2007 12:06 PM

Am I missing something here or could Hamas and fatah have made a deal to get access to aid.

I think what you're missing is that the Palestinians are constitutionally incapable of not-murdering, so that if you take away handy Jewish targets, they *do* start murdering each other.

Throwing each other off the tops of buildings, not to mention the "humiliation" factor of being marched through the streets in your underwear, has a tendency to break down lines of communication needed if you're going to scam Da Man out of more moola to the benefit of both murderous parties.

Posted by jmaimarc | June 24, 2007 1:18 PM

I am constantly reminded of Abba Eban's immortal quote:

"The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity"

I expect nothing will come of the Sharm sham, and I know will not be disappointed. I expect nothing but continued factional fighting, with Israel simply acting as goalie, kicking the terrorists back into play in the event one of them goes out of bounds.

Posted by patrick neid | June 24, 2007 3:38 PM

fatah/abbas know very well that to exist they have to kill--not arrest--every hamas loyalist on the west bank and later gaza. even if abbas wanted a different outcome, it is to late. there are enough renegade detachments that are going to get even with hamas that prevent abbas from having any real influence. he also knows now that he can be killed at any moment.

this all works in israeli's favor........

Posted by gregdn | June 24, 2007 4:11 PM

Asking Abbas to 'crack down' on Hamas is a little like asking Bush to crack down on the Democrats.

Posted by davod | June 24, 2007 5:04 PM


You forget, the big boys left town. The minions were left to Hamas.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 25, 2007 12:03 AM

Davod - word on the street is that Abbas is going to send his Fatah killers after Hamas-sympathizers on the West Bank. Won't Hamas thereupon be duty-bound as good little maniacs to start slithering after Fatah, rather than Israel? Watch for rockets being realigned to shoot into the West Bank.


Posted by Peter Shalen | June 25, 2007 12:07 AM

This sentence from the Telegraph article is incredible:

"Hamas launched dozens of attacks against the Jewish state, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians, but has largely abided by a ceasefire for the past two years. ..."

Of course the end of suicide attacks was the result of Israel's security barrier, not of a "ceasefire" which exists only in the imagination of reporters. What's wrong with these people?

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | June 25, 2007 1:30 AM

Hamas launched dozens of attacks against the Jewish state, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians, but has largely abided by a ceasefire for the past two years. ...

Is the Telegraph reporter high? Abided by the ceasefires? Not even partly!