The Abbas leadership has poorly calculated its political strategy, choosing to align itself with the Israeli regime and its Washington patrons in a bid to retain its hold on power. Yet it has compromised its legitimacy in the eyes of a large swath of the Palestinian public, and it has fallen into Israel’s Machiavellian trap of sowing discord among Palestinians to avoid dealing with the real issue: ending the occupation, fairly and justly.
Voters in the occupied territories are under no illusions about who planted the seeds of the current strife, particularly as Hamas made offers – but was repeatedly rebuffed – to form a unity government as soon as it won the elections in 2006. Despite increasing intransigence by hard-line Fatah activists, Hamas even adhered to a unilateral cease-fire for 18 months in a bid to neutralize tensions.
For over a year, the Islamic movement’s leadership has tried to avoid conflict with Fatah, yet confrontation was inevitable because American neoconservatives, the Israelis and even some Arab officials are determined to undermine a Palestinian government with an Islamic hue.