And the Winner is - Hamas!
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are scheduled to meet in Cairo next week to discuss ways of ending the power struggle between their two parties and the formation of a Palestinian unity government.
The talks between the two men will focus on the establishment of a unity government that would be dominated by "independent" figures and whose task would be to prepare for new presidential and parliamentary elections.
The meeting between Abbas and Mashaal comes more than six months after the two sides announced that they had reached, with the help of the Egyptians, a "reconciliation" agreement that would put an end to the continued rift between Hamas and Fatah.
But ever since the agreement was announced on May 4 in Cairo, Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement it on the ground.
The main reason why the agreement was never implemented was Hamas's strong opposition to the appointment of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the proposed unity government.
Hamas says it will never accept Fayyad because of his responsibility for the security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank and his close ties with Israel and the US. Many Palestinians also do not accept Fayyad because he was never part of the "revolution": he did not spend even one day in Israeli prison.
But now Abbas and Fatah seem to have changed their mind about Fayyad. In a series of secret meetings during the past few days in the Egyptian capital, Fatah officials informed their Hamas counterparts that Abbas was no longer insisting on the nomination of Fayyad.
In other words, Abbas decided to throw Fayyad under the bus for the sake of "unity" with Hamas.
There is no ignoring the significance of the timing of Abbas's decision to resume his efforts to seek unity with Hamas. Abbas's decision came shortly after he realized that the Palestinian Authority had failed to muster enough support in the international community for its application for membership in the UN.
By expressing his readiness to get rid of Fayyad in favor of a new partnership with Hamas, Abbas is seeking to retaliate against the US, Israel and some European countries that did not support his statehood bid.
Abbas's message to the leaders of these countries is: Because you foiled my plan to seek membership of a Palestinian state in the UN, I will punish you by joining forces with Hamas.
The biggest winner will be Hamas --- not Abbas. Any unity deal would only bolster Hamas's position, largely because it would give legitimacy to the Islamist movement.
Ironically, Abbas's overtures towards Hamas will ultimately undermine him and his West Bank authority. By striking deals with Hamas and inviting its representatives to sit in the proposed unity government, Abbas is acting along the lines of the saying: "If you can't beat them, join them."
Since 2006, Abbas and Fatah have been making every effort to get rid of Hamas, but with no success. Even the massive security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank by Abbas's security forces has failed to weaken the movement.
Abbas has chosen the path of unity with Hamas not only because he wants to tease the Americans, Israelis and Europeans, but also because he wants to cover up for the failure of his campaign to internationalize the conflict through the UN with the hope of imposing a solution on Israel.
He is basically hoping that instead of being denounced and ridiculed by Palestinians for the failure of the statehood bid, he will now be praised for having "reunited" the Palestinians.
By joining forces with Hamas, however, Fatah is once again digging its grave with its own hands. Does Fatah or anyone else have guarantees that Hamas will not score another victory in the new elections that Abbas is now hoping to hold in the Palestinian territories sometime early next year?
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by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
by Ben Cohen
Now, with the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.
That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.
by Lawrence A. Franklin
One Pakistani recruiter of child suicide bombers describes these children as "tools provided by God."
Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."
Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.
by Yaakov Lappin
Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.
Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.