Hamas can only be ignored for so long

The split between Fatah and Hamas is spoken about constantly in Gaza. The vast majority of people I talk to say that they dearly hope ideologues on both sides take a step back and reconcile for the sake of peace. Israel and America have other ideas:

A new report for the London-based Middle East Monitor highlights the scale of detention without trial in the West Bank — more than 1,000 political prisoners are reportedly held in Palestinian Authority jails – and extrajudicial killings, torture and raids on Hamas-linked social institutions by security forces trained, funded and organised by the US with Israel’s blessing.

The repression is justified by reference to the commitment to “end terrorism” in the 2003 road map. And the central role played in building up the security forces to carry it out (at a cost so far of $161m from congress) is played by Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton, US security co-ordinator for the Palestinian Authority, a man increasingly regarded as the real power in the West Bank, whose slogan is “peace through security”.

Dayton is advised by a team of British officials, as well as a British private security firm, Libra, closely tied to the Foreign Office. Libra has also been busy working for the occupation forces and interior ministry in Iraq, where sectarianism and human rights abuses have been rife.

In related news, a British parliamentary committee has urged the country to engage Hamas. They saw “few signs that the current policy of non-engagement with Hamas” was effective.