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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Does Fatah control the administered territories?

In tomorrow morning's JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh asks what may be the most important question in the aftermath of Gaza's fall to Hamas: Does Fatah still control the 'West Bank'? And his answer is 'probably not.'
In fact, the Israeli and Fatah campaign against Hamas is likely to backfire. The majority of the Palestinians in the West Bank have yet to come out in public to pledge their allegiance to Fatah in its war against Hamas.

It's true that many West Bankers are unhappy with what Hamas has done in the Gaza Strip. But there are still many Palestinians who are fed up with the scores of Fatah armed gangs that have long been running wild in the West Bank.

When Hamas leaders decided to take over the Gaza Strip, they knew that they didn't have much to lose in the West Bank. The most that Fatah can do is shoot an imam of a mosque in the legs or close down Hamas-affiliated institutions or kidnap a handful of supporters of the Islamic movement.

Hamas does not have security bases in the West Bank. Nor does it have armed groups that roam the streets openly.

The Fatah gunmen and security officers may be in control of the streets of the West Bank, but this does not necessarily mean they enjoy the support of the majority of the Palestinian public there.

Fatah's humiliating defeat in the Gaza Strip is likely to undermine it in the West Bank. Pictures of half-naked Fatah officers surrendering to Hamas are certainly not going to boost Abbas's standing among his constituents in the West Bank.
Come to think of it, the 'pictures of half-naked Fatah officers' that Hamas published today were also a page out of Israel's book.


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