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Two-state solution finally works

So much for the argument that Israel is the root of all problems for the Palestinians

THE Hamas victory over Fatah in Gaza on June 14 has great importance for Palestinians, for the Islamist movement and for the US. It has rather less significance for Israel.

Tensions between Fatah and Hamas are likely to endure and, with them, the split between the West Bank and Gaza. The emergence of two rival entities, "Hamastan" and "Fatahland", is the culmination of a long-submerged conflict. Noting the two regions' fissiparous tendencies in 2001, Jonathan Schanzer predicted it "would not be all that surprising" were the Palestinian Authority to divide geographically.

Subsequent events did indeed pull them apart:

* The anarchy that began in early 2004 spewed forth Palestinian clan chieftains and criminal warlords.

* Yasser Arafat's death in November 2004 removed the transcendentally evil figure who alone could bridge the two regions.

* Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in mid-2005 deprived Gaza of its one stabilising element.

* Hamas's victory in the PA elections in January last year provided a strong base from which to challenge Fatah.

Assuming Fatah remains in charge on the West Bank (where it is arresting 1500 Hamas operatives), two rival factions have replaced the PA. Given the expedient nature of Palestinian nationalism and its recent origins (it dates to 1920), this bifurcation has potentially great import. As I have noted, Palestinianism being so superficial, it could come to an end, perhaps as quickly as it got started. Alternative affiliations include pan-Islam, pan-Arab nationalism, Egypt, Jordan or its own tribes and clans.

Internationally, Fatah and Hamas engaging in war crimes against each other punctures a supreme myth of modern politics: Palestinian victimisation. Further, as two Palestines squabble over control of, say, the UN seat granted in 1974 to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, they damage a second myth of a Palestinian state.

"The Palestinians have come close to putting, by themselves, the last nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal observes.

A Palestinian journalist notes sarcastically: "The two-state solution has finally worked."

In contrast, the Islamist movement gains. Establishing a bulwark in the Gaza Strip gives it a beachhead at the heart of the Middle East from which to infiltrate Egypt, Israel and the West Bank. The Hamas triumph also offers a psychological boost for Islamists globally. By the same token, it represents a signal Western defeat in the war on terror, brutally exposing former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's short-sighted, feckless unilateral-withdrawal policy from Gaza as well as the Bush administration's heedless rush to elections.

As for Israel, it faces the same existential threat as before. It gains from Hamas's near isolation from the West, from the fractured Palestinian movement and from it having a single address in Gaza. It also benefits from having an enemy, Hamas, overt in its intention to eliminate the Jewish state, rather than dissimulating, as with Fatah. (Fatah talks to Jerusalem while killing Israelis; Hamas kills Israelis without negotiations. Fatah is not moderate but crafty; Hamas is quite purely ideological.) But Israel loses when the fervour, discipline and stern consistency of totalitarian Islam replaces Fatah's incoherent mishmash.

The Fatah-Hamas differences concern personnel, approaches and tactics. They share allies and goals. Tehran arms both Hamas and Fatah.

The so-called moderate terrorists of Fatah and the bad terrorists of Hamas equally inculcate children with a barbaric creed of martyrdom. Both agree on eliminating the Jewish state. Neither shows a map with Israel present, or even Tel Aviv.

Fatah's willingness to play a fraudulent diplomatic game has lured woolly-minded and gullible Westerners, including Israelis, to invest in it.

The most recent folly was Washington's decision to listen to its security co-ordinator in the region, Keith Dayton, and send Fatah $59 million in military aid to fight Hamas, a policy that proved even more bone-headed when Hamas promptly seized those shipments for its own use.

One of these days, maybe, the idiot-savant "peace processors" will note the trail of disasters their handiwork has achieved. Instead of mulishly working to return Fatah and Jerusalem to the bargaining table, they may try focusing on gaining a change of heart among the roughly 80 per cent of Palestinians still seeking to undo the outcome of the 1948-49 war by defeating Zionism and constructing a 22nd Arab state atop Israel's carcass.

Ehud Barak, Israel's new Defence Minister, reportedly plans to attack Hamas within weeks, but if Jerusalem continues to buoy a corrupt and irredentist Fatah (which Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has just called his partner), it only increases the possibility that Hamastan eventually will incorporate the West Bank.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia.

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An exerpt from the Israeli Declaration of Independence "WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East. " A timely reminder and often forgotten credo , not shared by Israels neighbours

Posted by Danny on 2007-06-20 11:34:24 GMT

This comment from Pipes is so true: "Fatah talks to Jerusalem while killing Israelis; Hamas kills Israelis without negotiations. Fatah is not moderate but crafty; Hamas is quite purely ideological." While Fatah is somewhat preferable to Hamas, both rotten gangs should be treated with utmost suspicion!

Posted by Mary on 2007-06-20 09:35:38 GMT