Fatah & Hamas

You've no doubt heard in the news of the problems occurring in the Palestinian territories over the last few days. If not, here's a brief synopsis. On January 9th, 2005 Mahmoud Abbas was elected to replace Yassir Arafat as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. At first the West rejoiced, because Abbas was a moderate. It seemed that Israel would have a reliable partner in negotiations. From the onset however, Abbas had problems reeling in the hardliners of the the Hamas sect. Hamas insisted on continuing terror attacks against Israel, launching homemade rockets out of the Gaza Strip at civilian targets in Israel.

On January 25th, 2006 Parliamentary elections were held. Much to everyone's dismay, Hamas swept to victory in a majority of the races. The victory of this hard-line terrorist group quickly dashed any hopes of a negotiated peace.

From January of 2006 to the present Mahmoud Abbas and the elected Hamas officials have been involved in a constant push and shove, with Abbas constantly trying to drag Hamas kicking a screaming into the peace process. Hamas consistently resisted. They'd agree to one ceasefire after another only to immediately break it. At issue was the continued existence of the Israeli state.

In the past few days, Hamas has risen up against Abbas in the Gaza strip. In quick order and with an abundance of violence, Hamas secured the entirety of the Gaza strip. Abbas and Fatah has maintained their hold on the West Bank (thus far). Mahmoud Abbas has dissolved the Palestinian government.

Personally I has always wondered how this was supposed to work. Not only the Fatah/Hamas division of power, but also the idea of an independent Palestinian state. How could a country exist in two geographically separated enclaves?

Perhaps Hamas has settled that issue for us. If Abbas and Fatah can maintain control of the West Bank, that would mean that one would end up with two separate governments. A presumably more moderate one based in the West Bank and an extremist one in the Gaza Strip. The media has made much hay of the fact, that there would be a terrorist led country directly on Israel's border, but I would contend that they've had that all along. This would simply localize then to a single enclave. Perhaps this will allow at least some of the Palestinian people; those in the West Bank, to find a peaceful existence with Israel. Then again, perhaps not.

This is none-the-less a very dynamic situation that we will need to keep our eyes on as things transpire.

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