Will the West Bank Become the Next Islamic Emirate?

(Gatestone Institute) Khaled Abu Toameh - Those who think Hamas and other Islamic groups do not have a strong presence in the West Bank are completely detached from reality. These groups lack arms and ammunition, but they still enjoy broad public support. For now, security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is all that is preventing Muslim fundamentalists from taking over the West Bank. While the PA has been waging a fierce battle against supporters of Hamas and other radical groups, the tough security clampdown has not been able to stop Hamas and its allies from increasing their political power in the West Bank. Hamas continues to operate in the West Bank under the cover of hundreds of Islamic charities and organizations. The movement also has a strong presence at most Palestinian universities and colleges under labels such as the Islamic Bloc and Islamic Union. Hamas, moreover, still has direct and indirect control over many mosques. In recent years, Hamas has been challenged by Hizb-ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], an international pan-Islamic organization seeking to unify all Muslims under an Islamic caliphate ruled by Islamic law. In the past few months, in Ramallah and Hebron, Hizb-ut-Tahrir held two major rallies calling for an Islamic caliphate, attracting tens of thousands of supporters. Hamas, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and their allies have been emboldened by the "Arab Spring," which has seen the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in a number of Arab countries, including the largest Arab country, Egypt. They have further been encouraged by the apparent emergence of an Islamic emirate in Sinai, next to the one that already exists in Gaza.

2012-08-17 00:00:00

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