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Palestinian Unity – United Against Whom?

Heniya & Abbas Announcement of the formation of a Palestinian “National Unity” government hasn’t been positively received by neither Israel nor the United States. Following a state of near civil war between factions led by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas, the two groups finally agreed to form a Palestinian version of a government of national unity. Almost immediately after this feat was done, with kisses and smiles by the two sides, P.A. Prime Minister Haniyeh repeated his party’s announcement that the new government had no plans to recognize Israel. Israeli P.M. Olmert countered by declaring that Israel would not recognize the new government, and will continue its boycott as long as current policies were in place.

These policies include continuance of terror attacks against Israeli targets, smuggling of weapons into P.A. territory, and the continued holding of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Shalit, who has been held captive by Palestinian terrorists (and perhaps formally by Hamas itself) has not been heard from since his capture at the end on June, 2006. The only indication that he may still be alive comes from a letter in January, 2007, which reportedly was written by the captive soldier to his parents.

The new government did enable some commerce to take place between Israel and the P.A. when more than 1,300 tons of strawberries, 18 million flowers, and 1,600 tons of fresh vegetables were allowed to pass from Gaza to Israeli and European markets via the Karni Checkpoint. Even that gesture was shattered on Monday with a Palestinian instigated shooting attack against Israeli transport drivers and electrical workers. When asked about this incident, and how it might effect future relations between the two sides, P.A. government spokesman Naazi Hamed said that despite this shooting incident Palestinian P.M. Haniyeh “will make all efforts to keep the ceasefire in effect between Palestine and Israel”. Those ‘efforts’ apparently haven’t worked though, in light of Monday’s shooting incident. When asked by a Channel 2 reporter if Cpl Shalit’s fate will be decided soon, Mr. Hamed didn’t seem to have any good news either. “We (the new P.A. government) are making all efforts to solve this issue” he continued.

As a side note, it seems that some European governments are agreeing to recognize the new P.A. government as being official. The Swiss government was one of the first to send their ambassador from Israel to meet with both Haniyeh and Abbas. Even the U.S. government, though not officially recognizing the new P.A. entity announced that they would still meet with Mr. Abbas and his ministers. Since they (Abbas and the PLO) are now part of the new N.U. government, this announcement on behalf of the American government is almost like de-facto recognition.

The Israeli military is watching events in Gaza very closely; and despite the shooting incident is showing remarkable restraint. How long this restraint can continue, especially in light of Monday’s terror incident is anybody’s guess.

One might wonder what Yasser Arafat, the founding father of the PLO, and whose call for armed resistance continued throughout his life, would have done in the present situation. With Arafat in charge, it would surely be “business as usual”.

And with Abbas and Haniyeh now running the show, Arafat would have smiled.

2 Comments

  1. The cunning idea of establishing the unity
    government came from Saudi-Arabia to by-pass
    the boycott of the U.S. and the European Union
    who were waiting for a reason to stop it anyway.
    Nothing really changed,the gangs continue to
    try and kill Israelis,launch rockets to Israel,
    smuggle weapons in to the Gaza strip,train their
    terrorists even in Iran! I hope the weak Israeli
    government is not dreaming,(especially Peretz)
    about peace talks he must be brain blocked!,
    Even today (21/march)there are killings and
    kidnapping in the Gaza sewage.

  2. Shhhhhhhh! Don’t say that too loud, Jack. The right people
    may be listening!

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