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I give this a week. Ten days, tops.

Rival Palestinian groups said they reached an agreement Wednesday on reuniting their governments in the West Bank and Gaza after years of bitter infighting that weakened them politically and caused the deaths of hundreds in violent clashes and crackdowns since. Even as the tentative agreement revived hopes among Palestinians that they might be able to form a unified front, unity between the rival groups Fatah and Hamas appeared unlikely to jump start negotiations with Israel for an independent Palestinian state.

There’s no way that Hamas and Fatah will be able to avoid going at one another.

Update: Why this deal is bad news for Israel.


The Palestinian people, anyway. This according to a new poll conducted by Ramallah-based Near East Consulting that surveyed 880 Palestinians. Overall support for Fatah is at 48%, while Hamas is down to 11% support:

“There is widespread support for Fatah,” Dr. Jamil Rabah, director of Near East Consulting in the PA, told The Media Line. “They support the Fatah political process and don’t think Hamas is on the right path politically.” 

[ . . . ]

“It doesn’t surprise me that the sentiments of the people are in this direction,” Abdallah Abdallah, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s Political Committee, told The Media Line. “Over a year has passed since the Gaza war and still people are living in the streets. People want those responsible for this to go and I think the sentiments of the people after three or more years of this is that it’s about time that those who are not capable of running the affairs of the people – go.”

Hamas swept to power in Gaza first by exploiting people’s frustration with the corruption of the Fatah administration, and then through a violent show of force. Popular support for suicide bombings and attacks on Israeli civilians was high, and Hamas was able to claim to the world (though maybe not with an altogether straight face) that it was a “legitimate” political party. Now, after promising to “crush” Israel and succeeding in doing little more than crushing Gaza, it seems that the Hamas option has lost its shiny lustre to a lot of disillusioned Palestinians.

But it would be a mistake to take this polling data at face value. People vote out of ideology, sure, but also out of self-interest. And in the Palestinian territories, where hatred is a powerful weapon that can be stirred up almost at will to redirect people’s frustration, these things can shift quickly. There will be those who will back the strongest horse, those who go looking for the options that are even more extremist than Hamas, and those who will get disgusted with voting altogether in a place where democracy doesn’t exactly have deep roots.

We’ve seen this before. Support for a political approach rises among Palestinians when there appears to be no threat of any progress actually being made. The minute this threat arises – whether at Camp David in 2000, or after Oslo or Wye – the people balk and something triggers another wave of violence. And if it’s not Hamas out in front, then support will go towards whoever is shouting the loudest, shooting the most, and inspiring the most fear.

And what the poll won’t tell you is that the bigger picture in the Middle East is also a factor – maybe the factor. As Iran battles Saudi Arabia for regional dominance, Hamas is engaged in something of a proxy war against Iran-sponsored Hezbollah, jockeying for power using the gruesome metric of dead Israeli civilians as credentials.

But, for the moment at least, Hamas’s popular support is way down. And if the Palestinians actually had real elections, this might actually have implications.


What’s missing from this story?


See if you can spot what crucial fact is missing from this Reuters piece on how the Palestinians are appealing to surrounding Arab states for aid money: Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are expected to speed money to the Palestinian Authority within days to help it pay its employees after Israel halted tax payments, […]

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Hamas’s election “victory”


With the victory of Hamas, the media is awash with clichés such as that the Palestinians have chosen “terror over peace”. As if Fatah was a true peace partner, committed to reconciliation and the middle ground. Bullshit. The Palestinian people have chosen one form of terror over another form of terror. The only difference between […]

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The Palestinian elections


Normally, this is a topic on which I’d have an awful lot to say. Right now, however, I don’t have the time to blog it. Another busy blogger, Allison, links to The Head Heeb for some analysis, number-crunching, and thoughts. There’s little I could add that isn’t being said all over the media or the […]

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Giving Robert Fisk a run for the idiocy title


It’s only January 1st and we already have our solid candidate for Idiotarian of the Year: Italian “peace activist” Alessandro Bernardini, who was kidnapped by Fatah gunmen but still thinks the Palestinian terrorists are a bunch of nice guys: “I am fine, I am fine … They gave me cigarettes and tea,” Bernardini told reporters, […]

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Oy vey


This is not good news: Israeli commandos killed eight Palestinian policemen in “eye for an eye” shootings three years ago that were ordered to avenge comrades slain in an ambush on an army checkpoint in the West Bank, a newspaper said on Friday. [ . . . ] After gunmen from the Palestinian faction Fatah […]

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Abbas is the new Arafat


According to exit polls, Abbas won the Palestinian election with something like 66-70% of the vote. Now, backed with the legitimacy of a vote, Abbas can get serious about the buisness of funding and protecting terrorists and seeking to destroy Israel. Of course, the day was marked by gunfire… shots into the air in celebration […]

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Let the revisionist journalism begin


Arafat’s “condition”, which probably is nowhere near as serious as the reports are making it out to be, is inspiring articles that predict how Arafat’s “legacy” will be rewritten by the press. Reuters can always be counted on to lead off with a shining example: Foreign doctors rushed to Yasser Arafat’s side on Thursday to […]

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Palestinian student elections


The CSU is a picnic compared to these guys (via Damian): In a West Bank university election for the student leadership that focused on which party had killed the most Israelis, the violent Hamas swept to victory Wednesday, defeating Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. [ . . . ] At a debate, the Hamas candidate asked the […]

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