Palestinian Unity Ploy Will Steal Gaza Military Initiative from Israel
The Cairo effort to broker a ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas proves now to have been no more than a cover-up for the real game afoot: a move brokered by the Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade to mend the feud between Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas.
Palestinian peace talks were secretly launched Friday, June 6 in Dakar at the end of the Organization of Islamic Conference summit. Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, ignored Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s ultimatum that he would break off ongoing peace talks if he opted for reconciliation with Hamas.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who visited Gaza on May 27, was a live wire in the move.
debkafile‘s sources report the Egyptians joined the Palestinians in getting it underway, by setting three traps for Israel:
One. The Egyptian mediators used delaying tactics to hold up the truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas; the hesitancy of Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak played into Cairo’s hands. This gave Hamas time to smuggle in through Sinai high-powered 120mm mortars to upgrade their war of attrition against the Israeli population within range of Gaza. The new weaponry was trained last week on the kibbutzim and moshavim abutting central and southern Gaza, a population with far more political leverage in Jerusalem than the long-battered town of Sderot.
Cairo and Hamas used the Olmert government’s evasiveness on effective military action to lure Israel into bowing to a ceasefire on Hamas’ terms. The “ceasefire” would have changed nothing. The missiles, rockets and mortars would continue to fly and Egypt would claim its police were unable to control Hamas’ arms smuggling through Sinai.
Two. Meanwhile, Egypt and Saudi Arabia pressed ahead with their ultimate goal: to end the Palestinians’ factional dispute which began when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’ Palestinian Authority a year ago; they prodded Fatah and Hamas to set their feud aside and build a national unity government.
In mid-May, debkafile revealed that Abbas and Meshaal had secretly drafted an agreement and were only waiting for an opportune moment regionally and internationally for public negotiations on a unity deal. That moment came when the Israeli prime minister became embroiled in a corruption scandal; his refusal to relinquish his place at the helm of government cast Israel into political turmoil.
Under that first draft, our sources reported, the two Palestinian factions agreed to share power in a government of Palestinian apolitical technocrats, who would prepare general elections for the presidency and parliament within a year.
The situation at present is as follows:
Once the Palestinian deal is signed and sealed, the countdown begins for a new president on behalf of – or sponsored by – Hamas to take office in Ramallah the second half of 2009.
To achieve this goal, Hamas will go through the motions of handing back the Gaza Strip’s governing institutions to the Palestinian Authority while retaining its iron military grip on the territory.
By taking over the administration, the PA will relieve Hamas of responsibility for wages in the public-sector (for which the Ramallah government turns over cash to Hamas anyway) and supplies of basic commodities – food, fuel and medicine. Hamas’ hands will be free to fight Israel with greater energy than ever before and proceed to seize control of the West Bank to create a base for attacking Israel far more dangerous than Gaza.
Three. Once Hamas vacates Gaza’s government administration – even if this is just a formality – and PA guards man the border crossings, Israel can no longer sustain its blockade of the territory.
Neither can Israel’s military hit back when Hamas and its terrorist allies shoot missiles and mortars against its population. Under the new circumstances, such attack will be deemed aggression against Abbas, with whom the Olmert government is holding peace talks. The Palestinian leader would suspend those talks forthwith.
In order to corner Israel on the diplomatic front, ahead of the arrival next week of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia announced that a start had been made to commit to paper the points he had been discussing with foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
Here too the Palestinians are preparing for a change in government in Jerusalem by pinning the negotiations down to a line binding on the next prime minister.
Israel’s opposition leaders responded that no future government was obligated to stand by the unfinished negotiations or any concessions Livni might have made for a peace deal.