Friday, February 10, 2012

Whither Unity?


Whither Unity?

A brief posting today, before Shabbat, focused on Hamas and the "reconciliation" with Fatah.  As predicted, it is shaky at best, and by the time I write again who knows how the situation will have shifted.
Word is coming from multiple sources now indicating great dissatisfaction with the agreement on the part of Hamas leaders in Gaza.  Apparently, which was not what I was reading at first, Haniyeh is among those voicing objections. 
The key source of those objections is the fact that Abbas will be prime minister of the interim unity government.  This, they point out, contravenes Palestinian Authority Basic Law, because Abbas is president and one person is not permitted to hold both positions.  In fact, this principle was written into the law because Arafat had absolute power; this was a move to mitigate that power and, ironically, Abbas was a key figure in pushing for that adjustment.  Abbas, it should be noted, already has enormous power as head of the PLO and Fatah -- in addition to being president of the PA.
And so, there are questions as to how well this new unity agreement will be held up. Very little is certain when it comes to the very volatile Palestinian Arab politics.
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Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost yesterday, indicated that while a Gaza faction -- which consists of many of the movement’s prominent leaders and legislators --  objected to the agreement, Hamas leaders in Judea and Samaria issued a statement supporting it.  This, says Abu Toameh, represents a split in Hamas that is more public than anything seen to date. 
Those supporting the agreement, even while conceding that it may conflict with PA Basic Law, see it as a vehicle for the more important goal of bridging the gap with Fatah.  They are not concerned because Abbas as interim prime minister would be charged with nothing more than arranging for elections and working on building in Gaza.  Abu Toameh reported on this attitude among some members of Hamas, as did Yonaton Halevi, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (http://www.jcpa.org/).  Hamas activists and officials certainly don't truly see Abbas as a leader, and expect to move beyond this situation to one that is more advantageous for them.
Halevi refers to this agreement as "Opening the Gates to the Trojan Horse," as it is "intended to enable Hamas’ official entry into the PLO in the framework of new elections for the Palestinian National Council and to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections."  Clearly, Hamas has confidence it will win those elections.
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The first question, then, is how serious the Gaza Hamas officials opposed are with regard to their objections. Will there be a split in Hamas, as some are suggesting?  Or, we can turn this around -- will the threat of a split cause Hamas to abandon the agreement? 
From the point of view of Abbas, an agreement with a truncated Hamas that does not include Gaza would be worthless.  His major point to the international community, when defending this agreement as "a necessary step towards peace," is that the  "people" would then be united.  But if they were not united and yet Hamas garnered further control in his domain of Judea and Samaria.  Oy v'voy, as we say.  But that won't happen.  Hamas aside, Abbas would not let this happen.
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One other item of news to be factored in here is that Mashaal and his Hamas politburo leadership have found a home: Qatar.  Not exactly a surprise.  The Doha Declaration, which is based on an earlier agreement reached in Egypt, was forged under the patronage of the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
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And so now we wait and see...
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The Zionist Organization of America has put out a release that expresses expressed dismay and chagrin "that major American Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, Bnai Brith, the Orthodox Union and others have not issued statements condemning the Fatah/Hamas unity government agreement reached in Doha in recent days...Hamas calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7), and has launched over 10,000 missiles on Israeli civilians."
President Morton Klein said, "At a minimum, these organizations should be condemning this development, which demonstrates starkly the falsity of the Fatah /PA as a peace partner for Israel and conspicuously exposes the true face of the PA’s goals and
ideology, which has always been – whether under Arafat or Abbas – to destroy Israel and murder its Jewish population."
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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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