Monday, June 02, 2014

Palestine Unity Government

The Palestinian Unity Government (PUG) will be officially installed today in Ramallah, a supposedly technocratic government that results from the reconciliation between Fatah (PLO) in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.  Note that it is not an elected government, but an appointed one.   As of today the two territories are again theoretically under one government.   What resulted in this reconciliation deal, what caused Hamas on the one hand and Fatah on the other hand to bury the hatchet and join forces?  The answer to this question reveals a lot about the current situation and the interests of the two forces.
The main factor was that Hamas backed the wrong horse in Egypt.  After the revolution against the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, Hamas joined forces with its sister organization the Muslim Brotherhood.  In fact Hamas is the Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian MB, and they have like aims and interests.  However, when Gen. al Sisi took over and deposed Pres. Morsi, and declared the MB illegal, so Hamas too was ousted from influence in Egypt.  Since Sinai had become an essentially lawless area, Hamas was using the peninsula for its own nefarious purposes. But, now the Egyptian military government is using its forces to not only attack the terrorist groups in Sinai, but has also to blocked off all the tunnels that Hamas was using to smuggle goods into Gaza, that they were taxing and earning large sums from.  So this represented a double whammy for Hamas, not only did they lose their sponsor in Egypt, but they also lost most of their income from the smuggling trade. 
At the same time, because Hamas decided to support the Sunni opposition to pro-Shia Pres. Assad in Syria, they lost their influence there and were forced to leave Damascus.  Only yesterday a meeting was held in Lebanon between Sheikh Nasrullah of Hizbollah and the Chairman of Hamas Abu Marzook, in order to try to mend fences with Iran.  But, because Hamas has lost influence and income both in Egypt and in Syria, they needed to quickly change their situation.  They went back to the old formula of mending fences with their former Palestinian enemies in Fatah.
At the same time the leaders of Fatah under Pres. Abbas, who incidentally has not been a legally elected President of the PA for the past six years, was looking for a way out of the US-sponsored American deal with Israel.  Abbas was in no position to make any deal with Israel, not only because he personally fears for his own life if he does, but because he cannot deliver Fatah and certainly not Hamas.  It is more in keeping with his interests to also return to a unity deal with Hamas, rather than make peace with the hated enemy Israel. 
The new Unity Government is supposed to be one of technocrats, so that neither Fatah nor Hamas can claim it as their own.  But, whereas Abbas says that the new Palestinian Government is one that wants peace with Israel, and he repeated this to Secty of State Joohn Kerry today, Hamas immediately contradicted him and not only fired mortars into Israel, but also issued blood-curdling threats of destroying Israel.  As far as they are concerned nothing has changed.  Israel rightly has stated that as soon as the unity Government that includes the terrorist Hamas comes into power they will cease all cooperation with the PA Government, including payment of taxes collected by Israel for the PA. 
The Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia agrees that the new PA Government must accept the three conditions, of ceasing violence (terrorism), accepting Israel's right to exist and accepting all previous agreements.  But, so far the EU and US have hedged their bets and avoided making a decision on the Unity Government, in the vain hope that the new Government will actually be more like Fatah than like Hamas.  But, there is no hope whatsoever of that happening. Catherine Ashton of the EU and Secty. Kerry of the US must soon accept the reality and reject the legitimacy of this bastard chimera.  


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