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Hamas-Fatah Deal?

2:36 PM, Apr 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The New York Times reports:

Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian movements, reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to end the years-long internal Palestinian schism, according to Egyptian and Palestinian officials....

Citing an Egyptian official, Wafa reported that delegations led by Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah and Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas had agreed in Cairo on issues including the formation of a temporary unity government and the holding of Palestinian elections.

Elliott Abrams explains what this might mean:

This deal, if it is real, will be interpreted in Israel as a choice by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Hamas rather than with Israel.  It is hard to see how Israel could negotiate with a Palestinian government half or more of which represents a terrorist group dedicated to attacking the Jewish State.  Formally, it is not the Palestinian Authority but the PLO that negotiates with Israel, but that formality will hold little political weight.  As this deal does not appear to require Hamas to change one word of its violently anti-Semitic Charter, the new Palestinian government would hardly be a peace partner.

Other questions arise.  Will Salam Fayyad, the current prime minister, maintain his post?  If not, how will Congress and other donors feel about continuing the aid flow to the PA?  Even if Fayyad remains, will Congress vote aid funds for this new half-Hamas government?  What will lawyers at the Treasury and State Departments say about the participation of a terrorist group in the PA government?  Will it even be legal to give funds to the PA?

We’ll all know more in the coming days, but this move by President Abbas vastly complicates U.S. efforts in the region and the Obama Administration’s current negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  How can he be expected to lean far forward in seeking a deal with the Palestinian leadership just when it is leaning away from Israel and toward Hamas?

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