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Friday, November 09, 2007

Another inconvenient bump on the road to Annapolis

Reuters reports:
Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, would take over the West Bank if Israel pulled out of the territory, a senior Hamas leader said on Friday.

The comments by Mahmoud al-Zahar contrasted with remarks by Ismail Haniyeh, who serves as prime minister of a Hamas-led government dismissed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Israel says the party in Ramallah (Fatah) serves Israel, and if Israel quits the West Bank, Hamas will take it over. And we say this is true," Zahar said at a rally for Hamas supporters in Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

"We say to those in the West Bank take a lesson from what happened in Gaza," Zahar said, an indirect reference to the fierce violence that led to Hamas's takeover of the coastal strip.
So if Israel gives up territory, Hamas is poised to take over the vacuum that would result as the PA "security forces" do not have the motivation or the ability to stop the Islamists.

Last week the scope of Hamas' organization and financial power in the West Bank started to become apparent:
...The initial examination of the seemingly innocent material, which was mostly confiscated at charity foundations and mosques, produces a scary picture: A giant octopus that controls hundreds of millions of dollars coming in from all over the world – an apparatus that looks exactly like the one that led to Hamas’ Gaza takeover within several days is also up and running in the West Bank.
The US is pretending that spending money will solve the problem but the PA's problems run much deeper - starting with a base of citizens who have a pathological hatred for Israel.

This little inconvenient fact won't slow down the Annapolis train, though. Too many egos are too highly invested in that folly to care that rather than bringing peace it will be a step closer to major conflict.