Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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A Hamas-Fatah Coalition?

by Elliott Abrams
April 27, 2011

Khaled Meshal, leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Left: Khaled Meshal, leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas (Khaled Al Hariri/Courtesy Reuters). Right: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Mohamad Torokman/Courtesy Reuters).

There are news reports of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas to form an interim coalition government that would govern the Palestinian territories for about a year, after which elections would be held. No details are available.

This deal, if it is real, will be interpreted in Israel as a choice by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Hamas rather than with Israel. It is hard to see how Israel could negotiate with a Palestinian government half or more of which represents a terrorist group dedicated to attacking the Jewish State. Formally, it is not the Palestinian Authority but the PLO that negotiates with Israel, but that formality will hold little political weight. As this deal does not appear to require Hamas to change one word of its violently anti-Semitic Charter, the new Palestinian government would hardly be a peace partner.

Other questions arise. Will Salam Fayyad, the current prime minister, maintain his post? If not, how will Congress and other donors feel about continuing the aid flow to the PA? Even if Fayyad remains, will Congress vote aid funds for this new half-Hamas government? What will lawyers at the Treasury and State Departments say about the participation of a terrorist group in the PA government? Will it even be legal to give funds to the PA?

We’ll all know more in the coming days, but this move by President Abbas vastly complicates U.S. efforts in the region and the Obama administration’s current negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. How can he be expected to lean far forward in seeking a deal with the Palestinian leadership just when it is leaning away from Israel and toward Hamas?

Post a Comment 9 Comments

  • Posted by John RD Kidd, London

    This peace initiative between Hamas and Fatah is extremely bad news for the Likud government headed by Netayahu which depends on a ‘divide and rule’ policy in order the prevent any progress in the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian state in the West bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel, under Likud, has hitherto been able to maintain the fiction that there is no partner with whom to negotiate for peace, and that apparently gives it the right to expand further its network of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
    These are difficult times for Netanyahu. He is well aware that the tide of history is turning against his party’s years of prevarication and obstruction and that America is slowly coming to the conclusion that AIPAC’s influence in Congress and the Senate is wholly disproportional to its membership. The US has a population in excess of 308 million whilst the Israeli lobby campaigns on behalf of a foreign state of just 7 million.
    The thought of Hamas being recognized by the international community will cause consternation in Israeli political circles and within AIPAC. Their reaction will be interesting to say the least.

  • Posted by Fred

    Maybe it is time to realize that the status quo will no work any longer. The status quo of Israel doing everything in its power to prevent a 2 state solution with its settlement enterprise while rejecting a 1 state solution. Maybe it is time to stop calling Hams a terrorist organization when in fact Israel has more blood on its hands than Hamas does. According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1200 people have been killed by Hamas since 2000. Didn’t Israel kill close to 1,400 Gazans in a few weeks?

  • Posted by Abu Sakher

    We don’t necessarily need US funding Elliot. The US needs to be engaged with us to remain relevant. With the fall of Mubarak the world has changed.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    The Obama Administration will find a way to circumvent or completely disregard those pesky , inconvenient rules about funding terrorist organizations . The President has a stultifyingly childish belief that a coalition which includes Hamas will bargain in good faith ( or that they won’t and he simply doesn’t care ).

  • Posted by Charles Kay

    Things ain’t going well, boyo.

  • Posted by Maine's Michael

    The savages in kaffiyehs have made a deal with the savages in suits.

  • Posted by Rigoberto Neumeyer

    You made some good points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will agree with your website.

  • Posted by yuval Brandstetter MD

    The fatah-Hamas issue is a foregone conclusion. There is no choice between them, there never was. the rel issue is Egypt, the recipient of copious military US largesse, now armed to the teeth with top=notch US weapons such as f 16 and Abrams tanks, is now in cahoots with Hamas, in control of the Rafah crossing, and warning Israel sternly about any intervention in the Sinai. The peace treaty is over, and the US better be ready for the consequences of the Obama policy of exchanging strongmen for Jihadis.

  • Posted by pyramid backlink

    Hi just thought i would certainly let you know something.. This is 2 times today i’ve landed on your blog within the last 2 weeks hunting for completely unrelated things. Spooky or what?

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