By Shimon Z. Klein

From the outside it looks like a fait accompli. The occupied territories are now split into two Palestinian entities. Gaza is consolidating itself under Hamas control, and the West Bank is still under Fatah control. This split will not work to Israel or Palestine’s advantage. Gaza will be isolated and will become a massive prison of human suffering. Hamas has proved itself a non-compromising terrorist organization with no signs of pragmatism in redeeming the situation for the good of the Gazan Palestinian. Israel and the EU have promised to send humanitarian assistance but this will not solve the human suffering in the future.  

The situation in the Gaza strip can only deteriorate even further. This will serve Hamas’s interests. Hamas can only survive on hatred of Israel and Palestinian suffering. The blame for this intolerable situation must be laid on the doorstop of the corrupt Fatah leadership under the late Yasser Arafat which led to massive Palestinian support for Hamas as a counter balance. World funds that were directed for the improvement of the Palestinian infrastructure and the building of a Palestinian state alongside Israel that would be viable economically found their way to Swiss bank accounts of a very corrupt Palestinian leadership. This was excellent fodder for Hamas who then proved their incorruptibility to their Palestinian supporters.

Hamas never showed pragmatism. They made maximum use of their hate propaganda for Israel in the hope of uniting the Palestinian people against Fatah. They increased their strength militarily and ruthlessly killed all opposition in Gaza. They stooped to murdering Fatah opposition using cruel tactics such as shooting at kneecaps of Fatah supporters and throwing Fatah supporters off rooftops where they were found. They also increased Gaza’s isolation and successfully took over power in a military coup.

Hamas is dead set on an agenda that is genocidal and terrorist. Even within Hamas, there are extremist groups such as those responsible for the kidnap of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit and the British BBC correspondent, Alan Johnston. The release of these captives remains uncertain and cynical use of psychological warfare is being used by Hamas by threats of death to these captives if their demands are not met indefinitely.

It is doubtful if Hamas does intend to rule Gaza responsibly. They are incapable of that! Gaza will eventually become the killing fields of the Middle East and the Palestinian people living there will be subjected to the most violent cruelty and torture if they do not tow the extremist Hamas line. Hamas wishes to install an extremist Islamist regime that will be uncompromising towards Israel’s existence. They believe that hate of Israel will unite the Palestinians.

The danger of a Hamas take over of the West Bank cannot be ruled out. The Fatah organization under Abu Mazen is stronger there. However, this balance could easily be tipped in Hamas’s favor if Abu Mazen is viewed as an Israeli and US stooge by Palestinian mainstream. Israel and the US have paid lip service on almost every occasion to support Abu Mazen’s emergency government under Salam Fayyad, whose wide-scale recognition by the Palestinian people is questionable.

It remains to be seen whether the recent Sharm-el-Sheik Summit co-hosted by Egypt and Jordan will be successful. Most Palestinians and Israelis have strong doubts. The speeches by King Abdullah of Jordan, PM Olmert and Mubarak oozed reasonableness and everybody said the right things at the right time. The test of course is decision making to carry out the ideas expressed. Otherwise this summit, like all the previous summits, will remain a photo opportunity and nothing will change. Unfortunately, time will prove that actual decision making in the spirit of this summit will just not occur. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will remain a festering sore in the Middle East for the future. This sore will be further complicated by Hamas which has cancerous tendencies to create a metastasis in the West Bank if the economic situation of the Palestinian people living there is not improved dramatically.

Emergency governments are not usually supported by the people. The air should be cleared by Abu Mazen by moving towards new Palestinian elections  which could improve his power base. Gaza is now a different entity separated from the West Bank and Hamas would never agree to elections there. We need to come to terms with the existence of two Palestinian entities. How this will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state or two Palestinian states remains an unanswerable question for the immediate and distant future.




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