By Stephen Pollard
June 16, 2007
The standard position on Gaza is that Israel should have dealt with the democratically elected government - Hamas. Let's leave the merits of that aside for a moment. I've yet to hear anyone - Ms Burton-Hill, where are you? - complain about exactly the same stance by President Mahmoud Abbas: Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said the new government would be sworn in by Sunday. He also rejected dialogue with Hamas until the group withdraws from former Fatah positions in Gaza and dissolves its militia there. "There will be no dialogue with killers who carried out field executions in Gaza," he said. So it's fine for the Palestinian President to refuse to negotiate with a terrorist group dedicated to his and his party's destruction. But Israelis must of course do so. For a superb analysis of the situation in Gaza, do read Amir Taheri today: The immediate cause is the desire by Hamas to bring the security apparatus of Fatah, its rival group in Gaza, under its own control. Months of negotiations with the help of Saudi Arabia failed to persuade Fatah to put its security forces under government (which in practice meant Hamas) command. To Hamas, Fatah’s security machine, led by Muhammad Dahlan, is little better than “the Zionist enemy”. Dahlan, for his part, knew that, without his machine, he would have little chance of making a bid for the presidency when the incumbent, Mahmoud Abbas, is forced out. Dahlan ran a lucrative protection racket in Gaza, set up by the late Yassir Arafat and his family, to bankroll Fatah. Having expelled Fatah, Hamas takes over this protection racket. Despite a $250 million cash gift from Tehran, Hamas has been short of money for almost a year. Thus, seizing control of Arafat’s business empire in Gaza will be a godsend.