Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Palestinian turf war continues as the `families' go to the mattresses..

Today's festivities included a hit attempt on the Hamas foreign minister and mortar fire on Abbas' Gaza offices as the struggle for control of the Palestinian territories continues.

Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahhar's motorcade was fired on early this morning as it drove near the Foreign Ministry in Gaza City. Zahhar was unharmed, but the attack unleashed a ferocious gang shootout that raged for more than an hour in downtown Gaza. At least 15 other people were wounded besides the presidential guards, including a French journalist with Liberation newspaper, Didier Francois, who was shot in the leg. Zahhar blamed top Fatah leaders for the attack on him, saying they were "fully responsible" for what happened "and what will happen."

Abbas' 4,000-strong `presidential guard' along with some of their Fatah allies, took over the Hamas-run agriculture and transport ministries, essentially trying to create a defensive enclave in Gaza City. al-Zahhar accused Abbas' security men of attempting a "military coup" by overrunning the ministries.

Today's attempted hit on al-Zahhar follwed the attack by Hamas on the headquarters of Abbas' `Preventive Security Service' HQ, which killed a Fatah officer and wounded several others... and a mortar attack on president Abbas' offices in Gaza, which killed two people and wounded 13 others.

There has been some chatter from a couple of the usual sources, but I'm pretty sure any abatement in the violence will be temporary..especially if Abbas continues to push for new elections.

Abbas is in an interesting corner. If he doesn't name a specific date for elections and backs down, he will look weak, even to his own followers. If he does push for elections, the war escalates.

It would take at least 3-4 months to set up new elections anyway, and and even if they're held Hamas has the option of boycotting them ( which would make them meaningless) or just simply shooting up the voting booths. Abbas will need Hamas to agree to new elections...which doesn't look like happening.

Here's why, aside from the problems Abbas has with Hamas.

Abbas' own Fatah Central Committee has been very clear that it's not in favor of early elections, because its chances of gaining a majority of the parliament are almost nil. Plus, Abbas would likely not win the chairmanship against Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who retains his popularity among the Palestinians.

To add to the mix, Palestinian law requires that Abbas resign as PA chairman close to the time a date for elections is set. Which means that the interim head of the Palestinian Authority would be the speaker of the PA parliament, Aziz Duek, of Hamas, now residing in an Israeli prison. So Abbas would be giving the chairmanship on a silver platter to Hamas on the day he sets an election date.

Really, Abbas' only chance is indeed a military coup, which would involve destroying Hamas in both the West Bank and Gaza.


Soccer Dad said...

This is what happens when you build a society based on "Chicago Gangs of the 1920's" instead of the American constitution.

Rosey said...

Sold. A military coup it is.