ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Hamas Victory and Then… 18.9.05

Hamas Victory and Then…

18 September 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

As long as Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the Fatah faction are the leaders of the Palestinian Authority there is no chance terrorism will abate. The Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will continue to undermine the PA regime which exists more in name than in action. Endemic corruption makes the Fatah controlled PA more like a criminal organization than a governmental structure. With very little possibility for moral influence or physical coercion in confrontation with the Islamists the best the Fatah dominated PA can do, is to disappear.

Israel does not need a façade running the PA, but rather those who are truly in control, meaning the Hamas and the Jihad. Yes, they demand Israel’s destruction and prove those intentions at every possibility. But one should not think those in Fatah are any more in favor of Israel’s continued existence than the Islamists. As pointed out by Ma’ariv columnist Nadav Haetzni in his article “Things Not Worth Reading” this past weekend, meetings between Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and the Hamas in Damascus led to an agreement for “continued resistance against the Israeli enemy” through “coordination” between the two groups. This past week after the Israeli Gaza departure, Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar in a well publicized victory speech was crystal clear in his announcement, “We will be victorious in Jerusalem and all Palestine. We are sworn to liberate Haifa and Jaffa… the Zionist enemy knows no other language than the language of fire…” (Quoted from Haetzni in Ma’ariv and Kol Yisrael Radio this morning.)

Hamas was victorious in the 2005 balloting and is expected to continue its sweep during the next round in January 2006, thereby reducing Mahmoud Abbas to nothing more than a figure head. The epilogue will be his removal.

So enter Disengagement and the abandonment of the Philadelphi line separating Gaza from Egypt. The Islamists are taking full advantage of the Israeli withdrawal with victory marches and celebrations throughout Gaza. 84% of Palestinians polled believe Israel left Gaza due to the “resistance” (terror) against Israel. Philadelphi is more like an Amtrak station from Washington to New York than any sort of border. Thousands of weapons and hundreds of thousands of bullets and shells have passed from the Egyptian side into Gaza since Israel withdrew last Monday. Egypt and the PA continue promising to close down the weapons traffic but refuse to do so. Furthermore, wanted terrorists have gone to the Egyptian side of the border and are expected to attempt to penetrate the Sinai-Negev frontier further to the south.

The whole operation is one large security disaster. Does anyone really believe Israeli PM Ariel Sharon was clueless about such possibilities? Just yesterday Sharon (still in New York) stated that Israel will not help the PA with security and economic issues if the Hamas is permitted to run in the 2006 elections. Such a remark only bolsters support for the Hamas. So why do it?

The moderate Abbas façade can be expected to disintegrate with a crushing Hamas victory. World attention will focus on the Palestinian Islamists and their accomplices in Sinai, many of whom are El Qaeda members or sympathizers. Sharon is turning Israel’s Palestinian terrorist headache into a world-wide Islamic terror threat. In that way he hopes to force western leaders to look past the moderate Abbas protestations of peace seeking blabble and confront the issue of how to obliterate terrorism. By the same token Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak will be exposed. From here two scenarios exist:

1. Israel can expect a border war around Gaza, but the more it will be contained the more the El Qaeda types will seek other targets, especially in Europe. Lest anyone forget, the Disengagement was done in tandem with Washington, with Israel retaining the right to pursue terrorism wherever it may be found. This could lead to major Israeli operations in Gaza and/or western intervention of some sort.

2. Hamas wins, makes the obligatory threats, but only does so for internal public consumption. The Islamists impose law and order, try to rebuild Palestinian society and are the leaders of the new Palestinian State. On the agenda will be the negotiations with Israel over the West Bank, Jerusalem, refugees, etc.

Sharon is taking a gamble, but figures it is worth it. Gaza was nothing more than a military and diplomatic millstone around his neck and a demographic entanglement. At worst, there will be more of the same as there had been under Arafat, minus the homicide bombing attacks (the security fence is being completed). On the other hand the Palestinians have longer range rockets, but should they be fired Israel will reserve the right of a major retaliation.

Scenario 2 envisions the Hamas becoming a partner for peace. It sounds far fetched but should not be ruled out. There is a debate over whether Islamic terrorism is directed at the West or whether such acts are committed for internal Moslem consumption in the battle to defeat the secular nationalists (in the Palestinian sense the Fatah controlled PA). And Sharon has no qualms about sacrificing Mahmoud Abbas if it means Israel has a more secure future or if only to expose the Hamas.