Fatah-Hamas clashes in Gaza mar Palestinian unity government accord due for legislature’s approval Saturday

debkafile notes: One putative “independent,” the designated foreign minister Ziyad Amar, is a known Hamas adherent. Pro-American Salam Fayed is retained as finance minister as bait to draw US recognition and international assistance.
Israel has announced it will boycott all the new ministers, including the new Fatah office-holders. The Olmert government faults Mahmoud Abbas for accepting a power-sharing accord dominated by Hamas, whose platform continues to deny Israel recognition and refuses to terminate violence. Abbas also reneged on his promise to get the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit released before forming a unity administration.
debkafile reports that Abbas and Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh (who retains the post) worked against the stopwatch to get their Saudi-brokered unity act together in time for the Riyadh Arab summit on March 28.
The fragility of their deal was apparent on the day of its signing: Wednesday, March 14, internecine gunfights were sparked by the assassination of Hamas’ Gaza commander Ala Haddad in a hail of bullets by the Muhammad Dahlan’s Fatah death squads. Whereas Haddad had been targeted for months by Fatah, now the chief of those death squads, a professional terminator called Samir Madhoun, became the quarry of Hamas’ special executive arm. Nine people were injured, including three bystanders, in the ensuing shoot-outs. The air rang with gunfire as Abbas and Haniyeh shook hands in Gaza City.
The cynical performance proceeded with Abbas pledging to deliver European recognition and aid funds to the new government, and Haniyeh vowing to end Palestinian government reliance on Iran – if Abbas delivered. Both promises were hollow, as they both knew, just as the framework they contrived changes very little. The kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston and the Israeli soldier remain in the hands of a band of captors that includes al Qaeda-Gaza, Hamas continues to take delivery of missiles and other war materiel and build its fortified bunkers.
If anything, Abbas lost points; any agreements or deals he may conclude with Israel will be subject to ratification by the Palestinian national assembly which has a Hamas majority. But because the unity deal is in the bag, the Palestinians will be represented at the Arab summit this month by a Hamas prime minister.

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