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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Israel considering military support to Fatah

This has to be the surest sign that the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government has gone mad. The London Daily Telegraph reported this morning that Israel is considering giving military support to 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's Fatah movement in their ongoing battle with Hamas.
Even though Fatah is closely connected to Palestinian militants with a long record of attacks against Israel, the Jewish state is coming round to embracing the movement as a more pragmatic bulwark against Hamas, which they believe receives military aid from Iran.


"We believe that time is working against the moderates," said a member of the Israeli cabinet yesterday.

"Time is of the essence when it comes to the influence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip - to sit and do nothing, not even while we're being attacked but afterward, is something we cannot afford." The week's third attempt at a truce, declared on Wednesday, appears to have calmed much of the fighting, but gun battles were reported outside a government building and the Islamic University in Gaza yesterday.
The article is bylined by Carolynne Wheeler in Tel Aviv, and she must be sitting in Tel Aviv because otherwise, I don't know how she could say that the fighting has been 'calmed.' Mind you Ms. Wheeler is so out of things she apparently doesn't even know that Sderot exists:
Diplomats were told by senior foreign ministry and military sources that the smuggling of arms and money to Hamas from Syria and Iran is continuing, and that Israel fears Hamas will advance to longer-range rockets if they do not take action now. Rockets have landed on the southern reaches of the Israeli city of Ashkelon but have not yet struck residential areas. Most alarming, the sources said, is the increasing determination and power of Hamas.
But is helping Fatah really the answer? This is from Khaled Abu Toameh writing in the Jerusalem Post over the weekend:
Reports that the US has been supplying Abbas's forces with guns and millions of dollars with which to take on Hamas's supporters have only added fuel to the fire. This week's bloody clashes have shown that despite the money and weapons, Fatah is either unprepared or unwilling to engage in a major confrontation with Hamas. Fatah, it is worth noting, has more soldiers, weapons and money than Hamas.

But some Fatah leaders admitted this week that what the faction was lacking was the support of the Palestinian public. "Most Palestinians still don't trust us," said a veteran Fatah operative in the West Bank. "Most Palestinians still hold us responsible for the financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority. And what's worse is that many Palestinians don't like the fact that we are being supported by the US and Israel."

A SIGN of Fatah's dwindling popularity on the streets of Gaza was provided by the recurring Hamas attacks on the homes of senior Fatah leaders Rashid Abu Shabak, Samir Masharawi and Maher Miqdad. Some Fatah leaders and their families have since fled [with Israel's assistance] to the West Bank.

Even if the current wave of intra-fighting ends, it will only be a matter of time before the next explosion on the Palestinian street. The gap between Fatah and Hamas is so wide that the sarcastic comment sounded by many Palestinians these days is that it would be easier to make peace between Hamas and Israel than Hamas and Fatah. "Fatah and Hamas are worse than each other," said a former adviser to Yasser Arafat. "We need a new leadership that will save the people from these two monsters. While Hamas's Farfur is preaching hatred to the children, Fatah is recruiting kids aged 12-18 for military training."
Do we really want to be giving military (or any other kind of) assistance to an implacable enemy that is training kids aged 12-18 to fight against us? I don't think so.


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