ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | The Fall of Abu Mazen and Fatah

The Fall of Abu Mazen and Fatah

13 December 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Fatah, the PLO and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are following in the footsteps of a failed secular Arab nationalism. The corruption left behind by Yasir Arafat was so endemic as to help lead the Hamas to a sweeping victory in the parliamentary elections of January 2006. Since then the PA has suffered from sanctions imposed by much of the world, in particular the West, as a result of the Hamas policy not to recognize any previous agreements signed with what they call “the Zionist entity.”

Despite this stance the secular Fatah faction led by Abbas has been in continual negotiations with the Hamas to establish a national unity government. Fatah insists that the Hamas accept all agreements previously signed with Israel. This week those possibilities worsened when PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah of the Hamas visited Iran, repeated that there will be no compromises or recognition of Israel and swore to continue the “jihad” until “Jerusalem is liberated”. Furthermore, shootings, assassinations (attempted or successful) and general violence have increased between Fatah and the Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.

Egypt may give verbal support to Abu Mazen but action is in short supply. Most weapons being smuggled through the Sinai – Rafiah underground tunnels (highways?) are intended for the Hamas and Islamic Jihad as are the millions of dollars smuggled into Hamas pockets by their elected representatives. The “official” Palestinian police who are an extension of Fatah are not receiving salaries and are coming up on the short end when in need of arms and ammunition. It will not take long before they will be completely outgunned. Cairo is playing a very dangerous game by allowing the wholesale arming of the Islamic radicals and undercutting the secular “moderates” who appear to offer the only possibility of conflict resolution with Israel. They should not forget that Islamic extremism will not stop in Gaza.

All this leads to shifting Palestinian loyalties. Which Palestinians are willing to physically endanger themselves and their families for a Palestinian State only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip coupled with recognition of Israel (the Zionist entity)? And on a broader level – How many Palestinians are willing to die to ensure freedom of speech, assembly, the press, etc.? With Hamas promising a final victory in full agreement with Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s declarations of wiping Israel off the map and becoming more powerful financially and militarily every moment, Fatah and the secularists do not stand a chance.

The Baker-Hamilton “Iraq Study Group” report was another blow. In the Fatah perspective the report demands the equivocation of American policy towards them. If the ISG demands that the US engage Syria and Iran, then by comparison that certainly means to negotiate with Hamas/Jihad or whomever. After all, the most extreme Hamas leadership sits in Damascus led by Khalid Mashal. So why should the secular moderates be pro-American? Or why should they be moderate at all?

Finally the much acclaimed cease-fire (by the Israel Left and Europe) is allowing for a full breather and re-organization of the Hamas terrorists both financially and militarily. Israel is trying to “strengthen” Abu Mazen by not responding to some 20 Kassam rocket attacks and is receiving international support for its restraint as the Hamas/Jihad build a world terror center. Jerusalem is hoping that when the IDF will be forced to act there will be full diplomatic support, at least from the West. That scenario will hold true at most for the first few weeks of an anti-terror operation and then afterwards demands for a cease-fire and condemnations of “Israeli brutality” and “human rights violations” will come rolling in as the Palestinians will use their civilian population as human shields.

The full Hamas takeover of Gaza is taking place under everyone’s nose. It appears Fatah and Abu Mazen are seen as a write-off and a lost cause but that is no reason to overtly aid the extremist Islamists unless everyone is looking for a Hamas provoked showdown sooner rather than later. This may very well be the bottom line.

Unfortunately, as we found out this past summer, Islamist provoked showdowns do not always turn out with the victory as planned by those on the receiving end of the initial attack. Hopefully Israel’s response will be better thought out than what happened in south Lebanon.