Leadership: The Palestinian Reality

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November 30,2008: Israel has become the ally of long time Palestinian ruling party Fatah, providing the group with weapons and more opportunity to run its own affairs in the West Bank. Fatah president Mamoud Abbas, however, pays more attention to Palestinian public opinion than to good relations with Israel. This can best be appreciated by looking at the details. Like the map of the area that hangs behind his desk in his headquarters. The map shows the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, except Israel isn't really on this map. The entire area is labeled as "Palestine." This reflects the attitude of most Palestinians, that Israel must be destroyed.

Fatah's rival, the radical Hamas organization, which controls Gaza, openly calls for the destruction of Israel. Fatah pretends to be negotiating a peace deal that recognizes Israel exists. For the moment, Fatah seems willing to sacrifice some of its terrorists, at least the ones leaning towards switching to Hamas, in order to keep Israel happy. One thing that hasn't changed is the belief, among most Palestinians, that Israel must be destroyed. The inability of Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel, and make a permanent peace, creates an obstacle to Palestinian prosperity and clean government. While Hamas makes much of being less corrupt than Fatah, it's relative. All the Islamic conservative governments of the last few decades have turned out to be as corrupt as their secular counterparts. There "clean government" phase did not last long once they were in power. One reason Hamas is less corrupt is because they have far less to steal than Fatah.

The Hamas takeover in Gaza simply makes official the differences which have long distinguished Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians from the 2.5 million in the West Bank. While Gaza is mostly a collection of refugee camps, the West Bank consists largely of people who have lived there for generations, or, in some cases, thousands of years. The Gaza population is younger, poorer, more resentful and more militant. To many Palestinians, Gaza is part of Egypt, a giant refugee camp that the Egyptians won't take responsibility for. Instead, the UN and European aid groups to deal with the needs of the destitute population. Egypt, meanwhile, sees Hamas control of Gaza as a threat, because of Hamas support for Islamic terrorists. Egypt already believes there is a Gaza connection with recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Egypt. It's also no secret that Egyptian smuggling gangs are doing a thriving business supplying Gaza with weapons, and some of those weapons, including several tons of explosives a month, ends up in the hands of terrorists.

 


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