Gaza-West Bank Split Looks Increasingly Permanent

(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Spyer - Four years after the Hamas victory in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and three years since the Hamas coup in Gaza, the split in the Palestinian national movement has an increasing look of permanence. There is now no process underway toward ending the Palestinian political divide. Parallel to the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and its ongoing popularity in the West Bank, Fatah is in a process of severe decline. It failed to reform following its election defeat in 2006 and remains riven by factionalism and corruption. The key Palestinian leader in the West Bank today is Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad is not a Fatah member, and is in effect an appointee of the West. His gradualist approach is quite alien to Palestinian political culture, despite the undoubted improvements this approach has brought to daily life in the West Bank. It is widely believed that without the security forces trained by Gen. Keith Dayton, which keep Fayyad in place, and more importantly without the continued activities of the IDF in the West Bank, the area would fall to Hamas. Both the Gaza and West Bank governments are dependent for their economic survival on foreign assistance. Half of the Fayyad government's annual $2.8 billion budget consists of direct foreign aid. The Hamas authorities announced a budget of $540 million, of which $480 million is to come from outside (Iran). The Gaza enclave gives Iran an effective veto over any attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both Palestinian governments are able to continue to exist because of the interests of rival outside powers that they do so. The split in the Palestinian national movement is thus likely to continue for as long as this regional reality exists. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

2010-04-23 08:42:48

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