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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shalit deal could bring Fatah-Hamas unity

Jonathan Schanzer explains how the terrorists for Gilad trade could lead to the execution of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation package.
But rather than stoking inter-Palestinian rivalries, Schalit's freedom could pave the road for an elusive unity deal between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction, and ultimately force Washington to reconsider its diplomacy and aid package to a Palestinian government constituted in part by an unrepentant terrorist group.

The man to watch is Mazen Sinokrot, the Palestinian Authority (PA) minister of economy from 2005 to 2006, and an ideological chameleon. Sinokrot appeals to secular and moderate forces because he is the brain behind the success of Sinokrot Global Group, an economic juggernaut operating in the West Bank and Gaza, working with both Palestinians and Israelis.

But Sinokrot also appeals to rejectionists and jihadists because Israel arrested him in 1998 for operating Beit al-Mal, an investment company that the U.S. Treasury designated in 2001 for financing Hamas.

Though Sinokrot is not a Hamas member, the terrorist group's leaders have indicated they would be satisfied if he were named prime minister.

Abbas has reportedly indicated that Sinokrot would work for him, too.

Whether the factions can publicly settle on a government under Sinokrot remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Hamas and Fatah can agree on what they don't want: current Palestinian Authority prime minister Salaam Fayyad. Abbas and Fayyad are barely on speaking terms, owing to a long-standing feud over efforts to make the Palestinian Authority more transparent and accountable – which Fayyad wants, and Abbas doesn't. Hamas dislikes Fayyad simply because he's not committed to the destruction of Israel.

Distaste for Fayyad, along with antipathy for Israel, may be the only two areas of common ground for these factions in recent years. Indeed, Hamas and Fatah have technically been in a state of war since they failed to form a government after the 2006 elections, in which Hamas routed Fatah. The following year, Hamas took the Gaza Strip in a brutal civil war, leading to a geographic and political division that has endured.


Some European countries expressed specific concerns about a Palestinian unity government, because it would become responsible for Schalit, whom Hamas barred international observers from visiting, constituting a clear violation of international law.

But now, in the eyes of some Western nations, unloading Shalit now makes Hamas less toxic. Last week, the WAFA news agency reported that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal would meet Abbas emissary Azzam al- Ahmed in Cairo.

Al-Ahmed confirmed that many Western countries had lobbied Abbas against reconciling with Hamas because of Schalit, and noted that with the soldier's release, that was no longer an issue.

In addition, the ideological boundaries of the two largest Palestinian factions continue to blur. An Israeli mediator told Maan News Agency last week that Hamas has become more pragmatic, while Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi said recently that Fatah has never abandoned armed struggle against Israel. Could it be that Hamas and Fatah are beginning to find common ground?
I cannot see the US changing its position on Hamas - at least until November 2012. Could Obama recognize a Fatah-Hamas unity government if God forbid he is reelected, or during the interim period between the elections and his successor's inauguration if he is not (think Reagan 1988 and Arafat). You betcha.

What could go wrong?

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At 8:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

It assumes the Palestinian Arabs love each more than they hate Israel - unlikely, given that what unifies them is hatred of Israel. They have nothing in common. And Abu Bluff resents the fact his Fatah faction had to play second fiddle to Hamas in the wake of the Shalit deal.

The two sides are not going patch things up anytime soon.

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, they never have yet. It's true, Molly and Sid's marriage on the rocks may be united on their agreement that they triple hate the Bernsteins next door to death--but every time they sit in the same room with each other "to reconcile" for more than ten minutes Molly tears Sid a new one and he calls her a battle ax lush slut. Then the tableware begins to fly.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... ultimately force Washington to reconsider its diplomacy and aid package to a Palestinian government constituted in part by an unrepentant terrorist group." ----- It hasn't stopped U.S. funding to Lebanon and they are run by a terrorist org..


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