Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hamas Rising

The End of Mahmoud Abbas - Caroline Glick

Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.

In Nablus, Fatah terrorist cells are in open rebellion against PA security forces. Since August 18, Fatah cells have repeatedly engaged PA forces in lethal exchanges, and according to Inbari, the town is now in a state of “total anarchy.”

In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.

All of this fighting and maneuvering is taking place against the backdrop of the encroaching PA municipal elections, scheduled for October 8.

Hamas is widely expected to win control over most of the local governments in Judea and Samaria. Hamas’s coming takeover of the municipalities is likely playing a role in decisions by Fatah terrorist cells to reject the authority of the PA. Many of those cells can be expected to transfer their allegiance to Hamas once the terrorist group wins the elections.

Given his Fatah party’s looming electoral defeat, more and more PA functionaries are wondering why Abbas doesn’t use the growing anarchy in Palestinian cities as a reason to cancel them. Abbas seems to have calculated that Israel will step in and, as it has repeatedly done over the past 20 years, cancel the elections for him.

Media organs Abbas controls are full of conspiracy theories whose bottom line is that Israel is not canceling the elections Abbas declared because it is in cahoots with Hamas and other “collaborators” to undermine the PA.

Although Israel, of course, is in cahoots with no one, it is the case that the government has apparently finally lost its patience with Abbas and is looking past him.

Repeated angry denunciations by government leaders of Abbas for his lead role in inciting violence against Israelis, leading the international movement to delegitimize Israel, refusing to negotiate anything with its leaders, and radicalizing Palestinian society, are finally being translated into policy.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recent announcement that Israel is adopting a carrot-andstick approach not toward the PA but toward the Palestinians themselves, and will advance development projects in areas where terrorism levels are low and take a hard line against areas where terrorist cells are most active, has sent shock waves through Abbas’s palaces.

For 22 years, Israel has bowed to Palestinian and Western demands and agreed to speak only to PA functionaries and Palestinian civilians authorized by the PA to speak to Israelis. Liberman’s decision to base Israel’s actions on the ground on the behavior of the Palestinians themselves rather than act in accordance with PA directives, along with his decision to speak directly to Palestinian businessmen and others, marks the end of Israel’s acceptance of this practice.

Confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is inevitable.

Moreover, this process will likely be rapid. Just as Hamas’s complete takeover of Gaza from Fatah forces happened seemingly overnight in June 2007, so its seizure of control over Judea and Samaria will happen in the blink of an eye.

Many Westerners, Israeli leftists and PA functionaries hope that some deus ex machina will fall from the sky at the last minute and cancel the elections.

But even if that happens, the underlying reality in which Abbas is rapidly losing all semblance of control over events in Judea and Samaria will not be reversed. Abbas has incited the Palestinians to the point where they reject not only Israel, but Abbas and the PA.

Now that Abbas’s reign is ending, the West is losing their man in Ramallah. Abbas’s Hamas successors will not be beholden to Western donors, although to their discredit, the Europeans in all likelihood will shower them with cash and side with them against Israel.

16 years after the failed Camp David summit, the fiction of the two-state solution is about to be shattered once and for all. The only relevant question today, is what does Israel intend to do next?

[Jerusalem Post]

Egypt and Jordan Fear Hamas Victory - Yoni Ben Menachem

After talks in Cairo, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian President el-Sisi issued a joint statement on the Palestinian problem. The statement reflects the Egyptian-Jordanian order of priorities: first reconciliation within Fatah and only afterward reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

The statement called on Abbas to mend fences with his bitter rival Dahlan so that Fatah can run in the elections in a unified form and prevent a Hamas victory. 
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Video: Anarchy in the West Bank - Yoni Ben Menachem

On the run-up to October Palestinian local elections, the Palestinian Authority has arrested 100 suspects and in Nablus confiscated a million shekels' worth of weapons, including rockets.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Video: PA Losing Control - Pinhas Inbari 
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman says Palestinian President Abbas' "reign of corruption" is the main obstacle to improving the Palestinian economy in the West Bank. The defense minister views Abbas as a bitter enemy of Israel and says that Abbas' policies have eliminated any possibility of advancing the peace process.

"We've met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what's most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas]," Lieberman said recently. "He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector - in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas' people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn't allow anyone there to develop economically. That's why it's so important for him to go. As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen."

Lieberman said he didn't think Israel should actively work to end Abbas' rule, but at the same time, it shouldn't blame itself for the situation in the West Bank. "Not everything depends on us," he said. "As long as the PA's corrupt and ineffective management continues, the economic situation there won't improve." 

In the upcoming Palestinian local elections on Oct. 8, the Fatah movement has maintained a surprising degree of unity. Even the close associates of Mohammad Dahlan - considered Mahmoud Abbas' main rival - have refrained from running on competing lists and are cooperating with Fatah.

In Gaza, Fatah appears to be mounting a close challenge. Unlike in the West Bank, Gazans will be able to choose between two lists explicitly identified with either Fatah or Hamas. Fatah may well be the better organized faction, at least in the large cities. 
(Times of Israel)

The Palestinian high court in Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday postponed Palestinian municipal elections set for Oct. 8 following disputes between Fatah and Hamas over candidate lists.
Earlier on Thursday, a court in Gaza invalidated five electoral lists belonging to Fatah.
(Times of Israel)

The Fragile State of the Palestinian Authority
- Jonathan Schanzer and Grant Rumley

A Palestinian court postponed municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 8 because the two largest political factions, Fatah and Hamas, couldn't agree on terms. Palestinian opinion polls show a majority of voters want President Mahmoud Abbas, 81, to resign. Armed gangs regularly skirmish with Palestinian Authority forces, while Abbas' rivals, such as exiled Palestinian leader Mohammad Dahlan, continue to foment opposition.

Ramallah has so far managed to avoid the Arab Spring and its aftershocks, but under the one-man rule of Abbas, the Palestinian Authority is becoming brittle. More pressing than an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is the need to reconcile and stabilize Palestinian politics. 
Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Grant Rumley is a research fellow.
(Wall Street Journal)

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