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Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas has good reason to rejoice. He is bleeding the U.S., Europe and Israel dry and they don't seem to mind. They have financed his failures and seemingly will continue to do so regardless of the corruption, violence and incompetence of his organization...and that is why American foreign policy in the Israeli-Palestinian arena has been a disaster. As Tom Rose put it in the Weekly Standard: ...(Fatah) is finished. The Palestinians know it. The Arabs know it. Only we don't know it." Rather than destroy Hamas, the decision has been made to prop up Fatah in a futile attempt to prevent another Hamas coup d'etat on the West Bank.
Fatah has never fulfilled its promise to crack down on terror or its suicidal militias and has allowed an entire generation of Palestinian youth to be poisoned though its media, mosques and culture ... but for its Western financial backers (including Israel) none of this appears to matter. First, America compelled Israel to allow democratic elections in a society that has no democratic traditions and is permeated with a culture of death. It then expressed "shock and dismay" when that society elected Islamic terrorists. Next, it decided that the Palestinians might be too "tribal" to understand democracy so they abandoned the effort in favor of training and arming the "secular terrorists" of Fatah to fight the "extremist terrorists" of Hamas in Gaza. They then trained the corrupt, disorganized Fatah terrorists with the finest American weaponry using the best American advisors and provided it with millions of dollars only to have the Fatah forces routed and all the weaponry and money seized by Hamas. Worse, dozens of officers in the Fatah-affiliated security forces cooperated with Hamas during the Islamist group's takeover of the Gaza Strip. They received money from Hamas in exchange for transferring information on the deployment of their own Fatah forces.
Now, the Administration is pushing to isolate rather than destroy
Hamas in Gaza in a futile effort to secure Fatah control over the West
Bank. To that end, the Olmert government has agreed to release back
tax collections totaling $562M and the U.S. is preparing to lift
financial and diplomatic restrictions and donate another $40M to
Fatah. And had Israel acquiesced to the U.S. plan several months ago
when it was first brought up by Secretary of State Rice to allow truck
convoys to connect Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas would have already
conquered the West Bank.
IT SEEMS THAT the billions of dollars already donated to Fatah to improve the quality of life for the Palestinians (donations that have made the Palestinians, at least on paper, the largest per capita recipients of humanitarian relief in the world) have not been enough, so the solution is to throw more millions at Fatah because they have now been "separated" from Hamas. Unfortunately for U.S., European and Israeli policy makers, neither Nablus, Jenin nor Qalkilyah on the West Bank are any more amenable to reason than is Gaza and from a political perspective, there is little difference to America, Israel or the West between the Islamic terrorists of Hamas and the secular terrorists of Fatah. If there really had been such a distinction, why then did the Palestinians en masse in a democratic experiment some eighteen months ago, vote for an Islamist movement whose very charter is pledged to the destruction of Israel and the imposition of Islamic rule?
As noted in a recent Washington Post editorial by Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller: "Having embraced one illusion - that it could help isolate and defeat Hamas - the Bush administration is dangerously close to embracing another - Gaza is dead, long live the West Bank." Unfortunately, that notion is based on the assumption that Fatah already controls the West Bank (which is not the case). Even on the West Bank, where Fatah is supposedly strong, Fatah is more a fiction than a fact. It controls little, is divided into a dozen private militias and is headed by a powerless puppet. What is left of Fatah is no longer an ideologically or organizationally coherent movement. It has descended into a multitude of offshoots and fiefdoms. In fact, the most recent attacks against Israel have been launched by the homicidal al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - a terrorist Fatah group that Abbas has yet to disown despite his rhetoric to the contrary. It was Abbas, after all who urged a throng of 50,000 Palestinians to re-aim their guns at the "occupation" (Israel) instead of turning them on each other: "[W]ith the will and determination of its sons, Fatah has and will continue," he exhorted. "We will not give up our principles and we have said that rifles should be directed against the occupation.... We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation..." That was less than six months ago. Truth is, Fatah is still avowedly dedicated to the destruction of Israel by any means necessary, including terrorizing its population, inducing outside political pressure on it, and gradually breeding Israelis out of existence with demands for a Palestinian "right of return." The Post editorial notes that: "Sooner or later (Abbas) will be forced to pursue new power-sharing arrangements between Hamas and Fatah..." In fact, he has already begun to do so - secretly. While Israel, the West and other Arab governments are rushing to offer financial support to the Fatah terrorists on the West Bank in hopes of preventing a Hamas take-over, Mahmoud Abbas is secretly trying to establish another "unity government" under his leadership that would confirm Hamas' domination of Gaza. As bait, he is offering Hamas the Interior Ministry of the Palestinian Authority (which controls the Palestinian security forces) and has already appointed Sheikh Mahmoud Habbash (a prominent Hamas supporter from Gaza) as Social Welfare and Agriculture Minister in Fatah's new government. Abbas has even refused to outlaw Hamas on the West Bank in the hope that, after a few months, there can be a reconciliation with them.
As DEBKAfile intelligence reports: "Abbas will not invest (Western) cash in a security force capable of taking on Hamas because not a single soldier will be sent into battle against the Islamist group, any more than he sent his Presidential Guardsmen into action to save Gaza from Hamas domination..." In the end, Abbas intends to ensconce Iran and Damascus on Israel's border and strengthen Hamas' position on the West Bank through a new Palestinian unity government that he intends to control. He will also seek more concessions from Israel, such as the release of hundreds of prisoners, the removal of checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, and progress towards a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, claiming that these will strengthen him in the ongoing fight with Hamas.
Unfortunately for America, Israel and the Europeans, Abbas's track record with Hamas on the West Bank will fare no better than his failures in Gaza. Hamas has already reaped the spoils of war in Gaza by seizing $400 M in American-financed mounted machine guns, M-16 assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, military jeeps, armored civilian cars (including pickup trucks and magnums), trucks equipped with water cannons for dispersing protesters and military-sized bulldozers (not to mention intelligence documents that Fatah failed to destroy in their scramble to exit Gaza), but this pales in the face of the treasure trove that awaits Hamas on the West Bank thanks to forthcoming American, European and Israeli largess.
In fact, a senior Hamas terrorist told WorldNetDaily on June 19th that Hamas is encouraged by the funding and arming of Fatah in Judea and Samaria as it is certain it will inherit those weapons and funds just as it did when it took over Gaza. Its plan of action will be to use suicide bombers and car-bombs against Fatah in upcoming battles. This was corroborated by a senior Palestinian security official in Ramallah who told a Washington Post reporter that Hamas has already recruited hundreds of sleeper cells in Nablus and Hebron, outfitted with guns and uniforms and ready to move. These are not idle threats. In Ramallah, where the government sits, Hamas won four seats in parliament in the last elections, with only one seat for Fatah. In Nablus, four seats went to Hamas and two to Fatah. In Hebron, nine to Hamas and none for Fatah. In the cities of the West Bank, Hamas won thirty parliamentary seats. Fatah got only twelve. In short, Fatah is despised and discredited on the West Bank as much as it is in Gaza. It lost to Hamas in the January 2006 election because of corruption and that corruption remains endemic to the party. Hamas means to control the West Bank and Gaza regardless of what Fatah, Israel, the U.S. and the Europeans want, and they are better equipped, better trained and ideologically committed to their goal. Besides, Iranian President Ahmedinejad's plan to expel the U.S. from the Middle East requires that his surrogates Hamas and Hezbollah succeed. For Iran, it is imperative that Lebanon and the Palestinian territories become advance outposts for his Islamic Republic, but Fatah's financial backers seem oblivious to all this and fixated on the illusion that Fatah can overwhelm Hamas on the West Bank. It's not going to happen.
Albert Einstein once defined "insanity" as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Is it not possible for this administration to learn from its past mistakes? Mahmoud Abbas, who has repeatedly said he rejects violence and endorses the two-state solution, nevertheless legitimized Hamas' rejectionist alternative when he entered into a power-sharing agreement with the group in the February 2007 Mecca Accords. Now, even as he seeks additional financial aid from America, Israel and Europe, he's seeking an "accommodation" with Hamas that has proven itself incapable of looking beyond its dogma.
No progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before the monumentally corrupt, violent and incompetent Fatah organization has been reformed financially, ideologically and structurally and the longer unconditional economic aid and political support is provided by the West, the longer that process will take. No effort to transform Fatah can or will succeed unless and until Hamas is vanquished and even then, there are no guarantees. The disorder now on full display in Gaza and the West Bank is the harvest of Palestinian history. What we see is the inevitable fate of a national movement given over to the cult of the gun. Nothing has so completely soured the world on the idea of a Palestinian state as the experience of seeing it in action.
An abridged version of this essay appeared in the New Media Journal
and in Arutz Sheva.
Thanks are due to America's Truth Forum (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for sending this to us.
Mark Silverberg is a senior writer for The New Media Journal. He is Executive Director Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania and an attorney with Degrees in Political Science and International Relations. A former member of the Justice Department, Mr. Silverberg served as a consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency (Jerusalem, Israel) and is a listed author with the Ariel Center for Policy Research in Israel. His works on Islamic terrorism, American foreign policy and Middle East affairs have been published in numerous scholarly journals, periodicals, newspapers and on the Internet. His book "The Quartermaster of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad" was published by Wyndham Hall Press in 2005.
An abridged version of this essay appeared in the New Media Journal and in Arutz Sheva.
Thanks are due to America's Truth Forum (email@example.com) for sending this to us.
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