Home > Hamasistan Vs. Fatahland

Hamasistan vs. Fatahland

from the June 26, 2007 eNews issue
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In recent weeks the Palestinian territories have spiraled deeper and deeper into chaos. Hamas has driven Fatah from Gaza and the Palestinian territories are now effectively divided - with Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. The Palestinian unity government has crumbled and the two groups are now battling for power. While the press has resisted using the term "civil war" to describe this latest surge of violence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is calling it a coup.

In January of 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in the Palestinians parliamentary elections - their victory completely transformed the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The militant group won 76 of 132 seats in parliament. Fatah, which prior to the elections had controlled the Palestinian Authority for nearly 40 years, won only 43 seats. Following the elections the Palestinian Prime Minister and his Cabinet were forced to resign. Mahmoud Abbas still holds the office of President, but he has been stripped of most of his power. Even before the elections Abbas was a weak and ineffective ruler, however the Hamas victory reduced him to little more than a figurehead.

When Abbas came to power after Yasser Arafat's death he inherited the remnants of a regime that was plagued with problems and was growing in unpopularity. During the decades of Yasser Arafat's corrupt and incompetent leadership, crooked government officials had stashed away billions of dollars that should have gone to help the Palestinian people. While Arafat grew rich, the Palestinian people suffered, and Israel was blamed for it all.

The PLO and Fatah-controlled government was often criticized for neglecting to provide Palestinians with basic social services. Meanwhile, Hamas operated a network of schools, clinics, and mosques which helped it gain the support of the people - effectively paving the way for the Hamas victory in last year's pivotal parliamentary elections.

The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah has ignited a frantic arms race. According to Israeli intelligence sources Hamas has been able to smuggle weapons through the Egyptian border with Gaza. Israeli forces say militants have also acquired hundreds of new anti-tank missiles. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been arming himself against his rivals. Although Abbas' power base has eroded since Fatah lost the parliamentary elections, both Israel and the United States support Abbas' limited efforts to bring peace. Being the lesser of two evils, Israel has agreed to let Egypt and Jordan supply Abbas' presidential guard with small arms and ammunition.

As the fighting escalates, the international community is divided over what must be done to stop the bloodshed. There has been talk of placing a UN peace-keeping force on the Israel-Gaza border, however many suspect that the UN's presence in the region would do little to stem the tide of violence that has engulfed the territories.

Related Links:

  •   Strategic Trends: The Struggle for Jerusalem - Koinonia House
  •   Iran 'played role' in Gaza Takeover - Aljazeera
  •   Gaza Christians in peril after takeover by Hamas - Washington Times
  •   Olmert, Abbas to Meet Arab Leaders - Washington Post
  •   The Sword of Allah - MP3 Download - Koinonia House