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Who Governs the Palestinians?

18 June 2007

The events of the last week make us ponder the above question. According to the Khaleej Times, an English-language newspaper in Dubai (UAE), the “international community has signalled its support for (Mahmoud) Abbas and its intention to isolate Hamas”. Hamas, elected in January 2006, to run the Palestinian Legislative Council took to the streets in the past week and killed a number of high-ranking Fatah officials. Now, Abbas has sworn in a “12-member emergency cabinet led by moderate prime minister Salam Fayyad as he sought to restore his authority, and swiftly took aim at Hamas by declaring its militia?s illegal.”

These event beg the question – who governs the Palestinians? There are two main factions in Palestinian politics – Hamas and Fatah. Fatah, considered by most to be moderate (feelings not shared by us who run this website), lost the 2006 election to Hamas (by a margin of 74-45), but retained the presidency. Now, Abbas doesn’t like what he’s seeing, so he’s asserting his authority to undermine Hamas.

Our personal view of what will come of this is a situation similar to what happened to Pakistan in 1971. Between 1955 and 1971, East Pakistan (now know as Bangladesh) was a province of Pakistan. As we know from history, the only people that Muslims hate more than the infidels is each other, and thus East Pakistan broke off and became an independent country. Given that Gaza is primarily Hamas territory, it will be virtually be impossible for Fatah to assert control over it. The West Bank is primarily Fatah territory and given recent events, will likely maintain it’s allegiance. We don’t believe that these two rival parties will ever be able to reconcile and will effectively break ties in the not too distant future, leaving the West Bank to be governed by Fatah and Gaza to be governed by Hamas.

The above events are likely to be viewed as negative by the Arab world, Palestinian activists and the UN, the events could be a great victory for Israel, given that previous peace agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to give the Palestinians a way to move between Gaza and the West Bank, which would surely cause security issues for Israel. Should these two territories be ruled by different parties for an extended period of time, this demand will not be realistic and Israel will not have to put itself in a terrible position. Time will tell whether our prediction is correct, but given the events of the past week, this scenario is looking more and more realistic as time passes.

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