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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The two-reichlet solution?

A number of bloggers picked up on a quip in a Jerusalem Post article that referred to the 'new two-state solution' - Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Judea and Samaria.
"The two-state solution has finally worked," a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip commented sarcastically. "Today, all our enemies have good reason to celebrate."
I doubt that it will be that simple. In fact, the 'Palestinian' Civil War is a long way from being over. First, 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen may really believe that he's as weak as he claims to be (either that or he has suddenly discovered pacifisim), but his terrorists want to go down fighting like Samson among the Philistines:
At a stormy meeting of Fatah leaders here, Abbas came under severe criticism for failing to issue clear orders to the PA security forces and Fatah militias in the Gaza Strip to launch counterattacks on Hamas.

Furious Fatah leaders demanded that Abbas declare a state of emergency and call early elections. They also expressed dismay with the way Abbas was handling the current crisis.

"Hamas is slaughtering our sons in the Gaza Strip and the only thing our president is doing is appealing for a cease-fire," said one Fatah leader. "We have at least 40,000 police officers and militiamen in the Gaza Strip. What's preventing them from launching a massive attack on Hamas? Does the president want to see the Gaza Strip fall into the hands of Hamas?"

Another top Fatah official called on Abbas to step down. "The president must resign," he said. "Unless he takes real measures to halt the Hamas offensive, President Abbas will face a revolt by Fatah."

...

Hamas is now fighting for control of Gaza City," said a local Palestinian journalist. "It's only a matter of time before Hamas takes full control of the city because the Palestinian security forces, especially the Presidential Guard, are only defending themselves."
The Fatah terrorists may not have much choice but to fight. Many of those who are left are on a "hit list" put out by Hamas. Many of those on the hit list have likely fled to the 'West Bank'. And with the fall this morning of the 'Presidential guard' headquarters, it appears that the battle for Gaza has gone to Hamas. But watch for continuing fighting between Hamas and Fatah terrorists in Gaza.

Will Hamas 'govern'? The New York Times reported this morning that Abu Mazen is considering letting Hamas 'govern' Gaza:
But several Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah indicated Wednesday that Mr. Abbas was considering giving Hamas control over the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in Gaza, a move that would ostensibly cede the territory to Hamas and leave Mr. Abbas with authority solely over the West Bank.

“There are a lot of people now who are angry and are saying, ‘Let Hamas govern Gaza, let Gaza go to hell,’ ” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former foreign policy adviser to Mr. Abbas who is now a fellow at the New America Foundation, a public-policy institute in Washington.
Abu Mazen probably has no other choice now. But letting Hamas govern Gaza could have many other bad consequences:
But that is a prospect that Israel and the United States fear could lead to a situation in which Gaza becomes a breeding ground for terrorists. “There appears to be a near-total takeover of Gaza by Hamas, which could create a major danger because it would result in an Iranian-backed terrorist state on our doorsteps, between us and Egypt,” Sallai Meridor, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview. “We are watching the developments very seriously.”

Mr. Indyk, who is head of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, argued that such a development could have consequences far beyond the carnage of a civil war between rival Palestinian factions.

“What would happen is that Hamas would take over and Gaza will be a full terrorist state, right on the fault line of the Western world,” Mr. Indyk said. “We should all understand what the stakes are here. It will be a haven for all the bad guys — Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad.”

Equally alarming to Bush administration officials is the prospect that if Hamas does not take over control of Gaza, and the fighting there continues, more of Gaza’s young and increasingly frustrated population might be driven into the embrace of Al Qaeda, a rival of Hamas that, until now, had largely been shunned in Gaza.

“The central discipline of both Fatah and Hamas has broken down, and the public is taking the attitude of ‘a plague on both of their houses,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former peace negotiator in Israel who is now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “We will soon be looking back with misty-eyed poignancy on the idea of driving the Palestinians into the hands of Hamas. What we will have done, actually, is driven them into the hands of Al Qaeda.”
In any event, I believe that at least when it comes to doing the normal everyday things that governments do (roads, sewers, etc.), Hamas will actually do a better job of governing than Fatah. The problem is that Hamas will turn Gaza into an Islamic caliphate. In the short term, maybe it won't be such a bad problem - the crazy fatwas and honor killings will be a tremendous embarrassment to the Arab world.

Expecting this to stop at Gaza is likely unrealistic. There are plenty of Hamas supporters in places like Jenin, Shchem (Nablus - where there has already been fighting) and Hebron. As was shown in Gaza, the numerical superiority of Fatah forces is meaningless.

So where will Israel go from here? Here's one indication:
In Israel, defense officials said talking with Hamas might become unavoidable, as closing all crossings from the Gaza Strip into Israel to avoid intra-Palestinian violence leaking into Israel would soon cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Israeli sources were quoted as saying that following the developments in the strip, Israel was now viewing the Gaza Strip as a "separate enemy state."
Sounds like confusion to me. With reports on Israel Radio that Egypt is preparing to admit 'hundreds' of 'Palestinian' 'refugees' from the fighting, it seems to me that the best solution for Israel would be to let the Egyptians handle it. They brought it on themselves by allowing the 'Palestinians' to dig all those weapons tunnels in the first place. The American solution to the problem seems unrealistic and very bad for Israel:
Beyond that, administration officials were weighing the possibility of trying to contain the mayhem in Gaza by pressuring Egypt to seal the tunnels leading from its territory into Gaza; American and Israeli officials say the tunnels are often used to smuggle weapons to Hamas.

One administration official suggested Wednesday that the United States might then try to prod Israel into taking down Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a way to shore up Mr. Abbas and demonstrate to the Palestinian population that the diplomatic route favored by Mr. Abbas can bear more fruit than the Hamas way of open resistance to Israel.
There's nothing left of Abu Mazen to shore up and Israel should certainly not be the one to pay the price - let alone make concessions to Egypt for doing something that's in their own interest to do anyway.

The Egyptian interest might actually be well-served by admitting Fatah supporters into Egypt: They aren't going to become members of the Muslim Brotherhood after going through the Hamas takeover of Gaza. And they certainly should not want any more arms going to Hamas.

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