11:22 AM, Jun 2, 2014 • By JONATHAN SCHANZER
Today the Palestinian Authority announced a joint interim government uniting Fatah and Hamas. West Bankers and Gazans cheer the move because the division between the two most powerful Palestinian factions has been a black eye for the Palestinian nationalist movement. Their rival religious and political visions, dating back to the creation of Hamas in 1987, have divided the Palestinians ideologically. Moreover, the territorial divisions resulting from the 2007 civil war in Gaza had made the creation of a unified, viable Palestinian entity all but impossible, until now.
But the creation of a new government that includes Hamas is fraught with pitfalls. Haaretz reported last month that the Palestinians appear poised to adopt the Lebanon model of allowing a terrorist entity to exist and operate outside of a weak government's reach. Hamas leaders have made it clear that the group refuses to disband the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, its primarily Gaza-based militia. This means that a robust terrorist infrastructure, with tens of thousands of rockets and thousands of fighters, will remain intact. Hamas maintains a state of war with Israel; PA president Abbas has since 2005 made it clear that he seeks to avoid conflict with Israel. Thus, the Qassam Brigades can put the next Palestinian government one Iranian phone call away from full-scale conflict with Israel. This is reminiscent of Hezbollah in Lebanon, where an Iranian-funded and Iranian-trained fighting force can drag an entire nation into a full-scale war without government consultations.
The lumping together of these two rival Palestinian political factions that have been warring for much of the last three decades also sounds a lot like the politics of Lebanon. While the divisions between Lebanon’s political factions fall along sectarian lines, Lebanon’s problems are reinforced by years of domestic conflict. The result is a deeply divided and dysfunctional country characterized by political gridlock. Over time, Lebanon has seen the emergence of Hezbollah enclaves that fall beyond the reach of the government.
The Palestinians, of course, are homogenously Sunni. But the hatreds stemming from the Hamas-Fatah rivalry have been similarly reinforced by years of conflict, which began well before the 2007 Gaza War. The political gridlock is by now well established. And Hamas’ enclave in Gaza is by now well entrenched. A unity government is unlikely to extend the Palestinian Authority’s reach. If anything, it will likely codify the current arrangement.
Finally, the sharp divisions in Lebanon have yielded a volatile system whereby outside actors seek to gain influence through the provision of funds. This has also been the case with the Palestinians, who are heavily dependent upon outside assistance. Although now, with Hamas joining the government, Washington could reduce or cut its financial aid. This could open up a vacuum for regional actors to pursue their political or military agendas.
Despite these very serious challenges, the Palestinians now appear intent upon pursuing a campaign of recognition at the United Nations. These efforts have thus far been welcomed by 138 out of the world’s 193 recognized countries. But the official inclusion of Hamas, leading to the Lebanonization of Palestine, could change this calculus quickly.
The Arab Spring and Palestinian democracy.11:00 AM, Aug 24, 2011 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
With the advent of the Arab Spring, several former Arab tyrannies (Egypt, Tunisia, now Libya, perhaps Syria next) have thrown off dictators and are, or will be, moving toward elections. And in Jordan and Morocco, the kings have announced new constitutional arrangements that move powers to elected officials.
5:34 PM, Jun 3, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Congressman Steve Chabot just introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives that calls on America to stop giving money to the United Nations “if the General Assembly adopts a resolution in favor of recognizing a state of Palestine outside of or prior to a final status agreement negotiated between, and acceptable to, the State of Israel and the Palestinians.”
Missing from the Bibi vs. Barack drama in Washington was the man who really torpedoed the peace process, Mahmoud AbbasJun 6, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 36 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Spokesman for the ‘international community.’Jun 6, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 36 • By TOD LINDBERG
Let’s assume that it was not President Obama’s intention for the final section of his big Mideast speech, in which he took up the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to entirely overwhelm everything he had just said in support of democratization and the “universal rights” of those living in the region.
The Fatah-Hamas deal may presage a new Iranian approach to the Middle East.Jun 6, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 36 • By LEE SMITH
5:07 PM, May 16, 2011 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
This Nakba Day was different because it fell amidst the many recent developments in what we call the Arab Spring.
12:54 PM, May 10, 2011 • By JONATHAN SCHANZER
The Palestinians zealously celebrated last week’s unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. Young men in both the West Bank and Gaza cruised around in their cars, honking and flashing the victory sign out of their windows. There was dancing, singing, and firecrackers. Indeed, the civil war between the two most powerful Palestinian factions appears to have ended.
11:56 AM, May 5, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
In wake of the recent Hamas-Fatah agreement, that's the question many on Capitol Hill are beginning to ask. For instance, yesterday, Democratic congressman Ted Deutch released the following statement:
4:10 PM, May 3, 2011 • By FRED BARNES
Will the killing of Osama bin Laden boost President Obama’s chances of reelection? That’s unknowable at this point. But what is clear as a result of the terrorist leader’s death is that things will get easier for Obama’s foreign policy over the next few months.
11:52 AM, May 3, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Fatah group the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades has released the following statement, condemning the U.S. for killing Osama bin Laden:
"The [military wing of Fatah] Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades announced the death of Sheikh Osama bin Laden (Abu Abdallah), and said that if bin Laden had indeed died as a Shahid (Martyr), this would not deter the resistance fighters from the path of Jihad against injustice, oppression and occupation in the world.
9:29 AM, Apr 29, 2011 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The agreement between Fatah and Hamas may not last very long. The last agreement, in 2007, failed and led to increased violence between the two groups—and finally to Hamas’s coup in Gaza. Hamas and Fatah militants have been killing each other for decades and reconciliation seems more a ploy for public consumption than a serious goal.
8:21 AM, Apr 29, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Karen Tumulty and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News:
How can the U.S., in good faith, sponsor a state that would not be a functioning democracy? 4:30 PM, Jul 15, 2010 • By ASAF ROMIROWSKY and JONATHAN SCHANZER
Saturday, July 17, was the day Palestinians were slated to hold a municipal election in the West Bank. But the elections were scrapped.
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