Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Palestinian reconciliation

The unity of Hamas and Fatah has been rendered impossible following an insult to Fatah, when their delegation to continue discussions was not allowed to enter Gaza. They were turned away ignominiously at the border. So the maneuver of having Hamas join the PLO as a kind of tactic, has made no difference. On the contrary, it now gives Hamas the possibility of devouring the PLO, which was its own sworn enemy.

In response, Fatah reviled Hamas with renewed vigor, once again showing the fundamental schism between them. There are several major differences 1. Fatah is basically nationalist in its approach, they want a Palestinian State, while Hamas want an Islamic State that will join with the other Islamic States to form a new Caliphate; 2. Fatah at least publicly declare that they no longer intend to use terrorism in order to achieve their objectives (although they do so anyway, just like Arafat did), while Hamas make no secret of the fact that they intend to use terrorism to destroy Israel; 3. Fatah deals with Israel and even negotiates with Israel, and could even make an agreement with Israel, but Hamas will never make any deal with Israel; 4. Hamas is prepared to deal with Iran (the Shia enemy) as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, while Fatah has few natural allies in the Arab world, now that Mubarak and his colleagues have gone. If they each stick to their distinct policies there is no longer the possibility of a unity government for both the West Bank and Gaza. In a way, this is in Israel's interest, but in the longer run, as Fatah grows weaker and Hamas grows stronger, it could boomerang and Israel could find itself fighting a Hamas-controlled West Bank.

Apart from these possibilities, IDF Chief Benny Gantz was reported to have told a Knesset panel in a briefing that Israel should be prepared for an influx of Syrian Alawite refugees, should the Assad regime fall. The Arab League monitors have failed and civilians are being killed every day. Gantz predicted that the Assad regime will collapse in 2012 and then there is likely to be a backlash against the Alawites, a heretical sect that consists of 12% of the Syrian population. The Alawites split off from the Shia and are not even considered Muslims by the mainstream Sunnis. If there is sectarian violence in Syria, then the Alawites will have nowhere to go, they cannot escape to any Sunni country, such as Turkey. They could try the Shia of Lebanon, but they might reject them as failures. Only Israel might seem a "neutral" as a non-Muslim country. So the coming year might be interesting.


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