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Friday, January 02, 2009

Fatah: A house divided?

I have noted before that some Israeli policymakers believe that the solution to the current situation in Gaza is for Israel to oust Hamas and then turn the Strip over to Fatah. In addition to the fact that Fatah is as much a terrorist organization as Hamas - they differ on tactics but not on goals - there are two problems with this scenario: First, that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen finishes his term next Friday, and with no elections scheduled, no one really knows what will happen, whether he will be replaced and by whom. Second, at least some part of Fatah sides with Hamas in the current dispute and wants to go help them fight against Israel.
Fatah operatives in the West Bank on Thursday criticized the Palestinian Authority leadership and accused its representatives of failing to take a "tough stance" against the current IDF military operation in the Gaza Strip.

One of them, Ziad Abu Ein, a deputy minister in the PA, called on Hamas to return the weapons it had confiscated from Fatah members in the Gaza Strip so they could help in fighting against the IDF during a ground offensive.

Abu Ein said Fatah had about 70,000 loyalists in the Gaza Strip, many of them former members of the PA security forces, who were prepared to repel an Israeli incursion.


Some Fatah representatives went as far as accusing the PA leaders of "collusion" with Israel to get rid of the Hamas government so they could return to the Gaza Strip.

The Fatah members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the PA leadership here had banned all forms of demonstrations in support of Hamas in the West Bank.

"They allowed people to demonstrate in the first two days, but then started cracking down on the demonstrators," said a senior Fatah official. "You're permitted to demonstrate only if you promise to refrain from voicing your support for Hamas."

The Fatah official and some Palestinians told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas's forces in some West Bank cities had forced merchants who were on strike to open their businesses. The strike was organized by various Palestinian factions in protest against the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.


Senior Fatah members - including Marwan Barghouti, the top Fatah operative who is serving life terms in Israeli prison - are said to be "enraged" with the way Abbas is handling the conflict. [Many Israeli politicians - most prominently Ehud Olmert's good friend Chaim Ramon - want to release Barghouti from prison. Here's another reason why that's a stupid idea. CiJ]

In messages to the PA leadership, some of the senior Fatah figures threatened to come out in public against Abbas unless he took "real" steps to exert pressure on Israel to halt the offensive. One of their primary demands was that Abbas suspend peace talks with Israel and stop security coordination with Israel and the clampdown on Hamas members in the West Bank.

Moreover, the Fatah officials demanded that Abbas release all Hamas detainees from his prisons and agree to the resumption of reconciliation talks with Hamas.

The Fatah officials are worried that the IDF operation will make their leaders appear as if they were collaborating with Israel. The Arab media has been full of unconfirmed reports suggesting that the main goal of the Israeli operation is to pave the way for the return of Abbas's men to the Gaza Strip after they were kicked out in the summer of 2007.
Read the whole thing.

This article shows the utter folly in Israeli and American beliefs that the way to resolve the problem is to turn Gaza over to Fatah. Regardless of what happens next Friday, Abu Mazen is too weak a leader to take control. It would be absurd to send the troops in to fight and die (God forbid) in Gaza and then turn it over to another terror organization, especially when the identity of that terror organization's leadership is uncertain. Israel cannot know and should not get involved with who is going to be the winner of the battle to succeed Abu Mazen.

Moreover, this story shows just how ridiculously thin support for 'peace' in Fatah really is (if there is any support at all). This is the same mistake Israel made with Arafat fifteen years ago: It pretended to make peace with one person (who was fooling the Israeli 'leadership' anyway) and ignored the fact that the entire 'Palestinian people' had no interest in peace and that no one was attempting to influence them to accept real peace. If anything, Israel needs to make peace with the Arabs, not with Abu Mazen. I don't believe that's possible in this generation.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Joe said...


Since giving control of Gaza to either Fatah or Hamas would be a mistake, what do you suggest that Israel does?

Honestly, I don't think that you can band together a large enough group of Palestinians in either territory to form a government and create peace with Israel...that's just simply not going to happen under any circumstances. Lets not pretend that these civilians are so innocent themselves.

Neither do I want for Israel to reclaim control of Gaza itself...(unless it would be permanent, which is not going to happen with 1.5 million angry Arabs there).

Perhaps Israel should just let Hamas stay but keep immense pressure on them (not letting them construct any tunnels, watching their every move, etc.)...but that would also not be a permanent solution.

Frankly, I believe the only permanent solution is deportation. But that's never going to happen...

At 10:05 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. In this generation, peace with the Palestinians a fantasy. Fatah is not committed to peace and Hamas seeks Israel's destruction. Whatever happens to Abbas next week, the fact remains the Palestinians cannot keep an agreement made with Israel because they reject altogether the notion of co-existence alongside the Jewish State.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Joe said...

What do you think would happen if Israel elected some very conservative Prime Minister - such as Moshe Feiglin?

I really like many of his ideas (like withdrawing from the UN), things that should have been done a long time ago. Its a shame McCain will never get to implement his League of Democracies.

Perhaps with an ardent PM we can finally take the action against the Palestinians that we need to.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Moshe Feiglin is the only one who really grasps the nature of the situation Israel finds itself in and who understands Oslo is a sham and the Arabs will never commit to a real peace with Israel. But his views are precisely what make him anathema to the Israeli elite, which is still living in a "peace fantasy" that has no chance of going anywhere. And that's the tragedy.


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