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Palestinian Hybrid

West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas To Sign Reconciliation Agreement With Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal Creating New Palestinian Hybrid - One Part Terror, One Part Diplomacy

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu & Defense Minister Ehud Barak Declare: 'Israel Will Have Nothing To Do With New Palestinian Government That Includes Hamas - It's A Total Non-Starter'

IsraeCast Assessment: Netanyahu Likely To Portray New Emerging Palestinian Leadership That Includes Should Disqualify Recognition Of Palestinian State By UN General Assembly In September

President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Amit Shabi)

One of the greatest surprises of the 'Arab Spring', now sweeping the Middle East, is the sudden reconciliation between the two bitter Palestinian rivals for power. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from the West Bank and Hamas Chief Khaled Mashal, who virtually rules Gaza from Damascus, will go to Cairo on May 4th to sign an Egyptian brokered accord calling for a new election within a year. Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu swiftly rejected the step declaring: 'Mahoud Abbas must decide between Israel and Hamas that calls for Israel's destruction!' Analyst David Essing has this assessment of the latest political bombshell that has also taken Israel's security establishment by surprise.

A new wild card has just been thrown into the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Out of the blue, the embittered Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza are about to bury the hatchet and sign a reconciliation agreement in Cairo. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas admitted that he was taken by total surprise. Abbas told a group of Israeli peace activists and reporters in Ramallah that he learned of the Hamas acceptance of a long standing Egyptian proposal, just one day before Hamas and PA representatives were summoned to Cairo. Abbas tried hard to persuade his Israeli guests in Ramallah that his rapprochement with Hamas would not affect his rejection of terror nor his strategic decision to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict. However, Israeli leaders are doubtful; they see the sudden return of the Hamas ' bad guys' as a Palestinian contradiction in terms when it comes to peace making. Netanyahu left no room for error: 'Hamas is a terror organization that is supported by Iran and therefore we cannot conduct any dialogue with it. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hamas terrorists fired an anti- tank missile at an Israeli school bus. The Palestinian Authority must choose between negotiations with us and collaboration with Hamas'.

Ehud Barak (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also doubted that Israel could discuss anything with Hamas, nor with any Palestinian government that included Hamas. Barak called on Israel's friends abroad not to deal with Hamas unless it dismantled its terror infrastructure, and accepted the international Quartet's demand that it accept prior agreements with Israel. He recalled the analogy of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who once quipped: 'If Hamas were to accept the Quartet's condition that it stop terror and recognize Israel, it would no longer be Hamas but would resemble the Finns and we are ready to negotiate with the Finns!'

So, what has led to the sudden, dramatic step by Hamas that mounted such a bloody coup against Abbas and his Fatah supporters in Gaza during June, 2007? It all started with the pressure exerted on President Abbas and PM Sharon By U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, to allow Hamas to participate in the Palestinian parliamentary election of 2006, that Hamas won by a convincing majority. As such, terrorist Hamas was entitled to form a cabinet under President Abbas. On the wave of its election victory, Hamas then ousted Fatah Abbas from Gaza, throwing some Fatah members to their deaths from high rise buildings. Since then, Abbas and particularly PA official Salam Fayyad have led a relentless crackdown of Hamas on the West Bank. In fact, the Israeli intelligence community has praised the effectiveness of this campaign and concluded that the acrimony between the two Palestinian camps would prevent Egypt from brokering a reconciliation. The Abbas campaign against Hamas was not due to the PA's love for Israel but for fear that Hamas was plotting to topple Fatah on the the West Bank. Moreover, Hamas terror attacks from the West Bank would only trigger IDF counter-strikes that would undermine the PA's authority.

Since then, Hamas and Abbas have gone their separate ways. From Gaza, Hamas and the other terror groups have terrorized tens of thousands of Israeli civilians by launching thousands of rockets and mortars. On the other hand, Abbas has conducted an effective diplomatic move that has set its sights on recognition by the UN General Assembly this September for a Palestinian state on the lines of 1967. In light of the ongoing political upheavals in the Arab world and the prospect of an Abbas diplomatic victory at the UN, Hamas may have decided it wants a piece of the action. Opinion polls have shown the vast majority of Palestinians wish to see a reconciliation and Hamas could have concluded that Abbas will be perceived as gaining far more for the Palestinians by diplomacy than Hamas has by trying to kill Israelis. In addition, the new Egyptian regime in Cairo is now under greater influence from the Muslim Brothers, a Hamas ally, and has indicated its readiness to lift the Rafah land blockade of Gaza, that could result in the free flow of weapons into Gaza.

Haled Mashal

It should be recalled that during the huge demonstrations in Cairo's Freedom Square, the prominent Sheik Yusuf Al-Qadarawi openly declared that he would see to it that the Egyptian restrictions at Rafah would be canceled. Therefore, Hamas in Damascus was ready to comply with the reconciliation proposal from Cairo. And speaking of the Syrian capital, where Hamas chief Khaled Mashal has been a welcome guest, maybe Hamas now views Assad's regime as a weak reed whose days are numbered. As for Iran, it has welcomed the Abbas-Hamas accord as 'an important step to victory over the Zionists'.

So how can 'peace loving' Abbas now reconcile his rejection of terrorism to collaborating with terrorists whose battle cry is not only the destruction of Israel but the cold blooded killing of Jews. For example, this is included in the Hamas charter: "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees and the rocks and trees will cry out: ' O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'"

Abbas explains that he will still have complete freedom to negotiate as he sees fit with Israel. For its part, a Hamas spokesman has concurred: 'We will not interfere with Mahmoud Abbas's foolishness with Israel'. If this is the case, it sounds as if Hamas has agreed that Abbas will act as 'front man' for the Palestinians. In the meantime, Hamas will boost its arsenal of rockets and mortars for the next round from the Gaza Strip. Although Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel, there are several key security issues hanging fire. On the West Bank, there is close security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the IDF for preventing terror attacks on Israelis. The PA has also tried and imprisoned Hamas terrorists - will Abbas now set them free? In any case, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who will soon address the U.S. Congress and visit a number of European capitals, can be expected to call on world leaders not to take a conciliatory tone when it comes to accepting Hamas as a legitimate partner of the new Palestinian leadership - a hybrid that will now include a radical Islamic organization no less terrorist than al Qaeda or the Taliban. In other words, how can nations in the UN General Assembly vote for recognition of a state whose leaders call for the extermination of another sister state?

David Essing

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