For those who have been following the past few days I have been covering the ongoing escalation of the Palestinian Civil War. I'm going to continue doiing so. Which is why this is post 0 (zero) in the series. I'm a computer geek (bare metal version) so I start my numbering scheme with zero. Now to the meat:
Abu Mazen (his war name) wants peace with Israel and new elections in the hope of ousting Hamas.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced new presidential and parliament elections to end an increasingly violent standoff with Hamas - a huge gamble that could strengthen the Islamic group, drive his people into civil war and further put off peace talks with Israel.The main difference between Hamas and Fatah is that Hamas is of the opinion that Israel can be destroyed soon by military means. Fatah thinks that the time is not yet right.
Hamas accused Abbas of trying to topple its government in an illegal maneuver, vowed elections would not be held and urged its supporters to take to the streets in protest. "This is a real coup," said Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas hard-liner.
Later Saturday, in Gaza, thousands of Hamas supporters marched in protest and 18 Palestinians were wounded in clashes between the two political camps.
Hamas' landslide election in January parliamentary elections split the Palestinian leadership into two camps: One, led by Abbas, who seeks peace with Israel, the other, led by Hamas sworn to the Jewish state's destruction. The infighting has often degenerated into convulsions of violence, and this week, tensions hit their highest peak in years.
Abbas attempted to end the power struggle by bringing Hamas into a more moderate coalition with his Fatah Party, but the Islamic group wasn't willing to pay the price he demanded - recognizing Israel and renouncing violence.
Since the world would rather put off trouble than face it, Abu Mazen is getting a lot of diplomatic support and the US is considering sending arms and money to Fatah.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Reuters in an interview on Friday that the Bush administration is planning to ask the U.S. Congress for tens of millions of dollars to strengthen Abbas's security forces.Mean while Fatah is ecstatic, for now.
State Department officials have been discussing the request in recent weeks with key staff on Capitol Hill, trying to convince them the money will not reach Hamas.
"I think today Abu Mazen made history," said Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide. "I think he saved his people from the prospect of civil war... We have a crisis. We have an authority with two heads. So what do we do? Bullets or ballots? Abu Mazen said ballots."There appears to be a strong disagreement about the bullets or ballots question. I'm betting on bullets.
In his address, Abbas blamed the ruling militant group for the spiraling crisis in the Palestinian territories.Civil war as entertainment? It has happened before. As to the siege on Hamas, like all sieges they start out slowly and make little impression on the defenders at first. However, as time goes on the pain increases and the rate of pain increases accelerates. If Hamas can't get the money flowing, expect that in time the population will rise in revolt. It won't just be Hamas vs Fatah any more.
He said Hamas had refused to meet international demands to recognize Israel and renounce violence, which had led to crippling Western sanctions and internal political deadlock.
Abbas said that the Palestinians needed a government that could end the international aid boycott.
"Do I need a government for entertainment? I need a government that can lift the siege," he said.