Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Hamas-Fatah Unity Suffers Serious Blow

 

That was quick.

As you know, the two Palestinian factions, long known for — indeed, substantially defined by — their mutual loathing, kissed and made up to great fanfare in May. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal were supposed to meet in Cairo this Tuesday so they could announce the composition of their new unity government.

They couldn’t agree on a prime minister, though, so the meeting was called off.

The talks collapsed because Abbas, displaying some vestigial backbone (or perhaps some shrewd political gamesmanship), refused to bow to Hamas’s demand that PA prime minister Salam Fayyad be thrown under the bus.

Abbas recognizes that Fayyad’s image as a forward-thinking, Westernized, moderate Muslim would go far toward easing American apprehensions about the unity government. This is a serious matter, since the US is hinting that it will pull the money as long as Fatah remains allied with an organization that refuses to renounce its goal of completely destroying Israel. Hamas, dependably, can’t see past its hatred of Fayyad, no matter what it costs them. “Salam Fayyad is a criminal who should be put on trial,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official, quoted in The New York Times. “He has tortured our people in prison. He is not acceptable to anyone in Hamas.”

This failure strikes a serious blow — perhaps the coup de grâce — to Abbas’s plan to shoot for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN this fall.  Which is probably just as well as far as the Palestinians are concerned, since the statehood gambit — which would kill peace talks with Israel for the indefinite future — represents as great a danger to American financial support of the Palestinians as the alliance with Hamas.

The failure of the talks on the unity government could presage an announcement that the statehood push will be postponed. It may well be the only way Abbas can climb down from the tree he’s in.

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  1. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m shocked–I thought this alliance would rival the Roman Empire for longetivity.

    • #1
    • June 20, 2011, at 2:06 AM PDT
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  2. cdor Member
    cdorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fatah and Hamas…the dance of the cobras and the rattlesnakes, may they poison each other to death.

    • #2
    • June 20, 2011, at 2:26 AM PDT
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  3. Ward Inactive

    This is exactly like the don of one crime family calling the other a criminal…true as far as it goes.

    • #3
    • June 20, 2011, at 2:49 AM PDT
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  4. Kennedy Smith Inactive

    And here I thought this was really the one for Hugh Hefner. Oh wait, that’s not what we’re talking about.

    Judith Levy

    as great a danger to American financial support of the Palestinians as the alliance with Hamas. ·

    Surely that’s a dead letter already. There’s virtually no Congressional support for funding the Palestinians. The New Austerity couldn’t have come at a worse time for those poor sad-eyed downtrodden bedraggled fluffy folk.

    Note to those dependent on US funding: Don’t push it just now. Not in the mood.

    • #4
    • June 20, 2011, at 3:59 AM PDT
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  5. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Initially, Hamas wrong-footed Fatah, which had proposed a unity deal in the certainty that Hamas would reject it. With the fall of Mubarak and the tottering of Assad, Hamas put Fatah on the spot by accepting its unity proposal.

    The problem for Fatah is that it could not be seen as rejecting a unity deal — especially not one it had initiated — but it could also not be seen as endorsing Hamas’s hardline rejection of Israel’s right to exist. The latter would derail its plans to achieve a Palestinian state as a platform to press for Israel to die by degrees.

    Pressing for Fayyad to be the unity Prime Minister is a crude tactic — Hamas had made it plain from the start that Fayyad was haram and Fayyad himself has said he would defer to any unity agreement — but in the exigencies of the moment, any pretext will do. Thus Abbas pretends to be shocked — shocked! — that Hamas would scupper the unity deal over Fayyad’s prime ministership. And of course, Hamas is incapable of calling Assad’s bluff by acquiescing to Fayyad’s appointment.

    Abbas has the advantage of dealing with an intractable, inflexible adversary in Hamas.

    • #5
    • June 20, 2011, at 5:54 AM PDT
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  6. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Capt. Aubrey: This is exactly like the don of one crime family calling the other a criminal…true as far as it goes. · Jun 19 at 2:49pm

    More specifically, it’s like the Don of one crime family knowing that he can derail an uncomfortable peace deal with the other families by insisting that a condition of the unity deal be that all families swear off drug dealing. We’ve seen exactly that scenario in plenty of Mafia fiction.

    If you can make what appears to be a reasonable demand that you know your adversary cannot for some reason accept, you make the adversary look culpable for the breakdown of negotiations — which is often preferable to the negotiations coming to a “successful” conclusion that curtails your freedom of action.

    • #6
    • June 20, 2011, at 5:59 AM PDT
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  7. Jack Richman Member
    Jack RichmanJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Judith Levy The talks collapsed because Abbas, displaying some vestigial backbone (or perhaps some shrewd political gamesmanship), refused to bow to Hamas’s demand that PA prime minister Salam Fayyad be thrown under the bus. Abbas recognizes that Fayyad’s image as a forward-thinking, Westernized, moderate Muslim would go far toward easing American apprehensions about the unity government.

    Judith, I always look forward to your posts. But I think you’re sometimes too credulous by taking people at their word who have not earned that trust. Mahmoud Abbas is not, and never has been, a force for peace. Men of peace are not generally known by their noms de guerre. Men of peace do not finance the murder of Olympic atheletes.

    The kabuki that Abbas and Hamas honcho Khaled Mashaal decided to dance was never real. It was a distraction designed for public consumption. I’m afraid if you’re looking for principle and backbone, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

    • #7
    • June 20, 2011, at 7:25 AM PDT
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  8. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Perhaps the interim rulers of Egypt have come to the realization that Hamas is not a partner for peace, or war, or any endeavor requiring trust:

    (JPost) Egyptian security sources in central Sinai seized a store of explosives slated to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.The report quoted Egyptian security sources as saying the explosives, located near a police station in the Sinai peninsula, were waiting to be picked up by smugglers who planned to illegally bring them into Gaza through smuggling tunnels.
    • #8
    • June 20, 2011, at 10:28 AM PDT
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