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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Is Hamas overplaying its hand?

You just knew this was only a question of time. There is a new 'crisis' between Hamas and Fatah over the 'unity government' that was agreed in Mecca last week. It seems that 'moderate' 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh, who was the clear winner of last week's 'summit,' is refusing to resign along with the rest of the Hamas government to pave the way for the 'unity government' unless Fatah fulfills three conditions:

First, Haniyeh wants 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen to approve a series of appointments made by the Hamas-led government over the past year and to rescind his decision to outlaw Hamas's "Executive Force." In other words, Haniyeh wants the right to maintain his private militia.

Second, Haniyeh is demanding that Abu Mazen approve Hamas's candidate for interior minister - Hamoudeh Jarwan - before the formation of the 'unity government.' Jarwan would be in charge of all of the 'Palestinian' militias.

Third, Haniyeh is demanding that independent legislator Ziad Abu Amr, who is expected to serve as foreign minister in the coalition government, be considered a Fatah, and not a Hamas, candidate. Under the terms of the Mecca agreement, Hamas is entitled to name three 'independent ministers,' while Fatah may chose two.

As a result of this dispute, Abu Mazen canceled a televised speech he was supposed to delivery on Thursday about the Mecca accord, and Hamas has objected to the appointment of Fatah's Muhammed Dahlan - whom it claims was party to an American plot to bring down the government (yes, America, you get blamed for this too!) - as 'deputy prime minister.'

To answer my own question, I don't believe that Hamas is overplaying its hand. I believe that if Abu Mazen does not agree to go along with Hamas' demands, Abu Mazen will be 'invited' back to Saudi Arabia, where he and Haniyeh will sit in their togas until a new government is formed. The 'Palestinians' voted for Hamas, the Saudis have shown that they back Hamas, and the Saudis are willing to do whatever has to be done to make this agreement go through - even if it means shoving it down Abu Mazen's throat. The Saudis don't want to foot the bill for the PA alone, so they are trying to set up a fig leaf of a 'unity government' so that the Euroweenies will find an excuse to fund it.

And that's why Haniyeh is playing this for all he can get.


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