Time for a US- Fatah divorce
Ami Isseroff has as good an analysis as anyone, or better, in Gaza: US and Israel are asleep at the controls which he wrote on June 14th. Keep in mind that he is a supporter of the peace process.
What is happening in Gaza, the destruction of the Fatah by the Hamas, is an unmitigated disaster for United States and Western policy, and a grave threat to Israel. Inexplicably, nobody seems to have planned for this “contingency,” though everyone knew it was coming, and nobody is doing anything about it.
[..] The need to maintain the Palestinian Authority in power was always recognized as a priority by the Bush administration. That is why the Israel government was not allowed to move in on the Muqata and Yasser Arafat. That is why Israel have been forced, during all the years of the Intifada, and even after the Israeli withdrawal, to supply electricity, fuel and water to the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza. The water that is drunk by the suicide bombers and the Qassam launchers and the holy dervishes of the Hamas comes from Israel. The radio stations that broadcast the blood curdling messages of murder for Jews and Fatah “traitors” are powered by Israeli generators, and the gasoline in the trucks that transport the rocket launching teams is refined in Israel. The charge that Israel is “choking” Gaza has to be viewed in the light of those facts.
Israeli acquiescence in the events in Gaza came at the insistence of the United States, which also transferred quantities of arms to the Fatah in the hope that that would enable them to resist the inevitable showdown with Hamas. It cannot be imagined that different Israeli governments were enthusiastic about this policy. Ariel Sharon was not a great lover of the Palestinian people or a believer in the cause of Palestinian Arab independence. He vowed that the Gaza settlements would remain under Israeli sovereignty forever. But under pressure of the White House bulldozer, he left Mr. Arafat to survive in the Muqata and to be succeeded by Mahmoud Abbas, and then he withdrew from Gaza, evacuating his beloved settlements, the folly of Israeli nationalism. In doing so however, Sharon threw out the baby with the bathwater, because the IDF too withdrew from Gaza, ending any possibility of keeping order there and allowing a reasonable transition to responsible Palestinian government. The Hamas filled the vacuum left by the IDF.
No Israeli government could agree to Mr. Abbas’s terms of peace, which include return of Palestinian refugees and surrender of all of East Jerusalem, including Israeli national institutions there such as the Hebrew University on Mt Scopus, the historic Jewish quarter of the Old city and the Western (Wailing Wall). The absurd charge that Abbas and Fatah are tools of Israel, leveled by the Hamas, could only be cooked up in the feverish brains of Islamist Mullahs.
But Israel had maneuvered itself into a position where it is almost totally dependent on the United States for military aid and diplomatic support. Therefore, there was no choice but to undertake disengagement, to allow the existence of the Palestinian authority even after the Hamas had taken it over, and even, for the unlucky PM Olmert, to acquiesce in daily Qassam rocket terror in Sderot, inside Green Line Israel, emanating from the previously occupied Gaza strip. It doesn’t matter if U.S. policy makers are totally ignorant of Middle East reality. They have the money and the power, so their word is law. But now that their pet puppy, the one that they so wanted their parents to buy, is sick, the adolescents in Washington are not interested in taking care of it. As usual, having imposed an inappropriate solution, the irresponsible adolescents of the State Department walk away from the consequences and go on to the next policy blunder.
It is true that Israel did not oblige those who wanted it to grant more concessions in order to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas. It is unlikely that any such concessions would have really helped Palestinian moderates however. Every concession that Israel made was always seen as a victory for “armed resistance” and not for moderation. At the same time, every concession and every offer were always denigrated as too little, any number of prisoners offered as a confidence building gesture was considered to be a Zionist trick. Muhamad Dahlan warned Israel not to support the Fatah in any way, because such support would ensure that Fatah are branded as traitors.
The debacle in Gaza has ominous portents for others as well. The method of Hamas was to gain legitimacy for its rule through a unity government with Fatah, and then to destroy Fatah from within. The same “unity government” proposal is now on the table in Lebanon, where the Hezbollah are seeking to take over the government, and the ultimate result may be the same in Lebanon as in Gaza: an Islamist take over.
The crumbling of the more numerous and powerful Fatah forces looks like fate or historical inevitability in action. Mahmoud Abbas inexplicably failed to give any orders in time. He was being true to his often repeated pledge to Palestinians that the arms supplied with American help would not be used against Palestinians. Fatah would only kill Jews. But the Hamas was play a different game. An enemy of Islam is an enemy of Islam for them. The guns supplied by the Americans were surrendered to Hamas or captured by them:
Fatah officials here confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas’s security forces in the Gaza Strip. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a US security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.
Hamas said it had seized thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, communication equipment, armored vehicles, trucks, binoculars, military outfits, tents, sleeping bags, hand grenades, mortars and documents.
Hamas militiamen were seen driving some of the confiscated vehicles that have been decorated with Hamas flags and signs.
Pictures of the weapons were posted on a number of Hamas-linked Web sites. “Most of the weapons came from Egypt and Jordan over the past few years,” a senior Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post. “They did not come directly from the US, although the Americans had initiated the supply of weapons and ammunition.”
Despite overwhelming numerical superiority, Fatah forces didn’t fight, because Abbas didn’t give the order until it was too late, after Fatah officials threatened a revolt. He proved to be at least a worthless leader, and perhaps something worse.
Essentially, all foreign policies except one regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in ruins, including the policies of the United States, Israel, the EU and Russia. Only the Iranian/Hamas/Syrian policy remains. It is, simply put, “kill the Jews.”
The Hamas takeover, if it is allowed to stand, represents the end of the road for any peace solution for the foreseeable future. It is as though the Nazi Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al Husseini, was resurrected and set up a state in Gaza. Except for the Hamas, Iran and the Syrian army intelligence, none of the participants and all of the bystanders really comprehend what has happened in Gaza, or what has happened to them, or what they should be doing. Israeli and American peace groups are silent, or dwell on issues like the two state solution and the Israeli separation fence, that are not top priority or are irrelevant. Amir Peretz is busy packing his bags, Ehud Olmert is worried about his government, Bush is worried about Iraq. Israel and the United States are dithering about, trying to decide what they should do, if they are thinking of the problem at all. CONTINUE