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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What's behind the 'Palestinian' 'national unity' government?

What's behind the 'Palestinian' 'national unity' government? DEBKAfile says that it's Hamas 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh playing off 'moderate Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen against Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, and that the 'unity government' will never happen.
After months of futile palaver with the Hamas prime minister, Abbas is now clutching at a rope handed him by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni. They decided it was time to talk to Abu Mazen after they made a botch of the Lebanon war and their peace advances to the Siniora government were roundly snubbed.

With this card in hand, Abbas turned to Ismail Haniyeh with a new proposition: If I can face the UN General Assembly in New York in a few days time and announce the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, I believe it will be possible with the help of the European nations contributing to the UN force in Lebanon to get the international community to lift the economic boycott hanging over our heads.

How can this be done? Haniyeh asked.

Abbas answered: The Olmert government is in poor shape since the Lebanon war and may be more amenable than before to steps that re-energize diplomatic momentum on the Palestinian issue. The Europeans, he explained, will welcome any moves that translate their Lebanon project into influence beyond its borders, such as peacekeeping in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The Bush administration, furthermore, is at a low point, said Abu Mazen, mainly because of the Iraq situation and Israel’s performance in Lebanon. Therefore, he said, if we, the Palestinians, are seen to be the only force in the region with a plan for generating diplomatic motion, everyone, including Israel, will lend a hand.

Abbas is perfectly aware that the Hamas prime minister is in dire straits, even more than the other parties. DEBKAfile reported on Sept. 5 that Haniyeh’s chief in Damascus has decided to send him packing for defying orders to unleash a massive terrorist and missile attack on southern Israel to coincide with Hizballah’s rocket onslaught on Galilee. To this end, Meshaal is starving Haniyeh’s government of operating funds.

The Hamas prime minister therefore thought he could put Abbas’s offer of a Hamas-Fatah partnership in government to good use as an ultimatum to Meshaal: Restore the suitcases of cash to Gaza or I’ll go in with Abu Mazen. The issue is still unresolved. Hamas spokesmen do not say Haniyeh has accepted the Fatah leader’s offer outright, only that he is “considering” acceptance of a plan whose details remain to be settled.
Read it all.


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