In contemplating the Hamas takeover of Gaza, observers seem to be missing something obvious: Hamas has just produced a de facto "two state solution"… history's first example of a "free Palestine". Gaza is now governed by the winner of what international observers considered at the time a "model" democratic election and they are untainted in Arab eyes by subservience to Washington. At the same time, on the West Bank, the "other" Palestine, is still effectively controlled by the Israelis and their “separation wall”, private roads, checkpoints and growing settlements, all of which makes president, Mohammed Abbas look like little more than an American puppet charged with protecting Israeli lives and property. In Gaza, as Tony Karon, a senior editor of Time Magazine and expert on Middle Eastern affairs wrote, “Having trounced Fatah on the polls, Hamas now moved to trounce them on the streets,” using what Jimmy Carter called Hamas’s, "superior skills and discipline."
It wasn’t Palestinian religious fervor that opened the doors for Hamas, it was Hamas's honesty and Fatah's corruption. The strategy the "west" has decided to follow now is to strangle Hamas and fatten Fatah. This is difficult because Hamas needs very little to get by and Fatah's proven capacity to engulf donor's money uselessly is limitless. A basic principal is at work here that explains the fall of Fatah and the rise of Hamas: when public servants are honest and hardworking it is surprising how much can be done with little money, but crooked politicians are a literally a bottomless pit. If the United States, Israel and the hapless European Union, were intelligent they would shower money on Hamas, hoping to corrupt them in the same way they did Fatah during the "Peace Process".>Hamas’s strategy is simple, as Ahmed Yousef the political adviser to the democratically elected Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya, explained in the New York Times, "We have begun disarming the drug dealers and the armed gangs and we hope to restore a sense of security and safety to the citizens of Gaza. We want to get children back to school, get basic services functioning again. (...) Our sole focus is Palestinian rights and good governance." The "international community", by encouraging the Palestinian split, are giving Hamas and Fatah each their separate, universally publicized, chemically pure showcase: one for Hamas to demonstrate disciplined sacrifice and another for Fatah to demonstrate feckless larceny. This may have the unintended result of publicizing the Muslim Brotherhood style of government all over the endemically corrupt Middle East: something that could destabilize the west's "moderate" allies in the region. DS
Abstract: It sounds logical enough. Nurture a flowering Fatahland while pariah Hamastan withers away. But it is surely a delusion. The first and most obvious danger is that the more generous the west is to Abbas, the more his credibility will be destroyed. Every dollar or euro he takes will confirm him as the lackey of foreign powers, casting him alongside Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq and Fuad Siniora of Lebanon as a mere western proxy. Each bouquet from Israel will tarnish him further, establishing him as the servant of the enemy. Already the Arab press is comparing Abbas with Antoine Lahad, the strongman whose hated South Lebanon Army served as Israel's policeman. As has happened so often before, in seeking to boost "moderates," the west only hugs them to death. Besides, the whole idea rests on a series of faulty assumptions. First, it assumes that Israel will indeed come through with the goodies it promises. On this, the record is not encouraging. Ehud Olmert has repeatedly met Abbas and promised the release of tax funds or greater freedom of movement, only to do nothing. Second, even if Israel does hand over the cash, there is no guarantee that Abbas's Fatah-dominated administration could translate that into improvements on the ground. Again, past experience is not encouraging. Put crudely, Fatah has shown itself to be either corrupt or incompetent or both. But let's be optimistic and imagine the new approach did indeed bear fruit on the West Bank. Do we imagine that Hamas would calmly sit by, watching itself being pushed out of the Palestinian future? Veteran Palestinian analyst and negotiator Ahmad Khalidi asks, "What incentive is there for Hamas to play along and not spoil it?" We all know how easy it would be to wreck any rapprochement between Fatahland and Israel: a simple terror attack on Israeli civilians and it would all be over. Hamas could be clever about it and ensure the attack came not from Gaza but from the West Bank, say in the Hamas stronghold of Nablus. That would undermine Abbas instantly. The dangers are multiple. If the West Bank is lavished with money but much of it stays in Fatah's gilded circle, thereby creating a class of haves and have-nots, there would be a surge of precisely the resentment that led to Hamas's election victory in January 2006. Who knows, Hamas could even end up taking over the West Bank too - after all, they had the edge over Fatah in elections there. Precedent makes clear that shunning the movement only makes it stronger. Ostracised for the last 18 months, they are more powerful than ever. READ IT ALL
The "international community", by encouraging the Palestinian split, are giving Hamas and Fatah each their separate, universally publicized, chemically pure showcase: one for Hamas to demonstrate disciplined sacrifice and another for Fatah to demonstrate feckless larceny. This may have the unintended result of publicizing the Muslim Brotherhood style of government all over the endemically corrupt Middle East: something that could destabilize the west's "moderate" allies in the region. DS