Hamas: Just The Beginning
The Palestinian Authority and Egypt's new military regime are begging Hamas to agree to the appointment of Salam Fayyad as prime minister of a Palestinian unity government.
The main reason the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority wants to keep Fayyed in power is that they are afraid that the US and EU will suspend financial aid to the Palestinians.
That is why the Fatah Central Committee this week voted in favor of nominating Fayyad as head of a unity government with Hamas.
Fatah now needs Fayyad to ensure the continued flow of American and European taxpayer money.
The Palestinian Authority wants Fayyad as prime minister, while Hamas says it will never sit in a government with him in it.
Many Fatah officials and activists do not even like Fayyad. They are opposed to Fayyad because his efforts to establish good government and combat financial corruption have deprived them of money.
In other words, Fatah does not like Fayyad because its representatives are unable to steal financial aid, as they were under Yasser Arafat.
But Fatah has one little problem: Hamas does not want Fayyad -- not as prime minister, not as finance minister, not even as a junior minister -- in any government.
Ever since the signing of the Egyptian-sponsored "reconciliation" accord between Hamas and Fatah in early May, the two parties have been squabbling over the identity of the prime minister who would head the unity government that they agreed to establish.
Hamas does not want Fayyad: they see him as a "puppet" in the hands of the US and Israel, They also hold him responsible for the security crackdown on supporters of Hamas in the West Bank.
In the past few weeks, the Palestinian Authority has been literally begging Hamas to accept Fayyad. Nabil Sha'ath, a senior Fatah leader, visited the Gaza Strip and met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a bid to convince him to change his mind, to no avail.
Hamas and Fatah representatives who met in Cairo this week also tried to solve the dispute over the identity of the future prime minister, but without success.
In wake of Hamas's insistence on rejecting Fayyad, the two parties are planning a summit between in Cairo next week between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas's Khaled Mashaal. At the meeting, Abbas will try to explain to the Hamas leader why it would be a bad idea to exclude Fayyad from a unity government.
Abbas has sought the help of Egypt's ruling military dictatorship in convincing Hamas to change its position. Hamas officials who met with government officials in Cairo the past week said that the Egyptians were putting heavy pressure on them to accept Fayyad's nomination.
Hamas leaders have every right to be satisfied. They have the power to determine who will head the unity government. This is just the beginning. In the future, Hamas will have the final say on more important issues concerning the Palestinians and the entire region.
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by Alan M. Dershowitz
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