Can Fatah Compete with Hamas?

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] Dennis Ross - It may be fashionable among some in Washington to believe that it is time to talk to Hamas. But to the members of Fatah and the Palestinian independents in the West Bank with whom I have been meeting, it surely is not. What you hear from them is that Hamas is made up of killers; that they want to be part of a larger Islamist empire; that they are already trying to bring Iran to Gaza; and that the worse thing to do now is to reward Hamas with recognition. I was struck by the almost unanimous sentiment that the reconciliation talks which both the Saudis and Egyptians are pushing will not change Hamas' behavior. Instead, Hamas will use them as a tactic to try to build its international acceptability. Worse, it would use a new national unity government to try to do in the West Bank what it has now done in Gaza. The Palestinian public is basically secular and wants a national, secular future. Hamas' position has grown within Palestinian society by default. The Palestinian public remains more alienated from Fatah than attracted to Hamas. Fatah can regain its position in Palestinian society, but to do so, Fatah must have new leaders and must be seen as delivering. Fatah and the PA must be seen as active at the local level and being responsive socially and economically. Being responsive also means ending corruption and re-establishing not only the rule of law but a sense of security for Palestinians.

2007-07-17 01:00:00

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