Betting on a dead horse

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Imagine what would happen if all the horse racing experts in the world got together and bet their money on a dead horse to win the Kentucky Derby. As far-fetched as that sounds, today all the who's who in foreign affairs are either actively supporting or enacting an analogous policy toward the Palestinian Fatah movement.

Cheered on by the Olmert-Livni-Barak government, this week the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1850, which among other things calls on all UN member nations to provide political and financial support for Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas's government. And no doubt the call will be answered with enthusiasm. Over the past year, Fatah received $1.7 billion in international aid – some $600 million more than the world's foreign policy gurus promised to give last December.

But Fatah is a dead horse. Even if it were to sign a peace deal with Israel – and really meant to keep it – the deal would be a dead letter because the Palestinian people themselves want neither peace with Israel nor Fatah.

Fatah lost the Palestinian Authority's January 2006 legislative elections to Hamas. In June 2007 it was violently ousted from Gaza by Hamas. And next month, on January 9, Abbas's term of office as PA chairman will end. If Abbas refuses to relinquish power on January 10, as far as the Palestinian people are concerned, Hamas will be right to reject his authority and to seek to overthrow his government in Judea and Samaria.

With the massive backing he enjoys from the US, in all likelihood Abbas will remain in power on January 10 and will refuse to run for reelection. Palestinian journalists and Fatah officials in Ramallah readily acknowledge that were Abbas to face Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in open elections, Haniyeh would win big. And this is Fatah's fault.

OVER THE past 13 years, Palestinian society has come to view jihad against Israel and the US as its definitive goal. And Fatah brought about this state of affairs.

Fatah indoctrinated the Palestinians to support jihad through a massive campaign of media incitement. Fatah has controlled the Palestinian media since 1994. Although it lost that control in Gaza in June 2007, aside from declaring their support for Hamas, Gaza's media today are no different than they were when Fatah was in charge.

By convincing Palestinian society to support jihad, Fatah paved the way for Hamas's takeover. Although Fatah operatives have killed more Israelis than Hamas has, Hamas still has more credibility in the jihad department. This owes mainly to Fatah's image as a US and Israeli stooge.

Fatah's American and Israeli champions justify their support for it by noting that since Hamas took over Gaza, Fatah has been willing to fight Hamas. But Fatah – which is begging Israel to reconquer Gaza for it – has not tempered its commitment to Israel's destruction. The reason it fights Hamas is because Fatah's leaders rightly view Hamas as a mortal threat.

In an interview with Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz last week, US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, who as US security coordinator for the PA has been working with Fatah militias for the past three years, praised the US-trained Fatah forces now deployed in Jenin, Nablus and Hebron as "state-builders."

Dayton also defended Fatah's behavior during Hamas's coup in Gaza. Noting that some 250 Fatah members were killed during the coup, Dayton claimed that Fatah forces fought well before they surrendered. In his words, "These aren't people that simply, immediately raised their hands and surrendered. I know this. It took five days… They were clearly outgunned and still they stood their ground for five days."

Perhaps this is true. But what Dayton ignored is the fact that Hamas would never have been able to build up a force capable of outgunning Fatah forces if Fatah leaders hadn't let it.

IN SPITE of the fact that the entire Israeli-Palestinian peace process was predicated on Fatah's pledge to disarm and disband Hamas, from 1994 until the 2007 coup, Fatah and Hamas were strategic allies and constant collaborators in their common war against Israel. Indeed, at the time of the coup, as partners in the PA's unity government, Fatah and Hamas were closer than ever.

When on January 9 Fatah finds itself lacking any legal basis to lead the PA, Hamas will be sitting on top of the world. In addition to enjoying the support of the majority of Palestinians, Hamas is now second only to Hizbullah in Iran's terror proxy pecking order.

Hamas cemented its alliance with Iran in December 2005 and it has only benefitted from its proxy status. Iran has provided Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars. And to Iran's monies must be added US and European financial assistance. Using the massive inflows of US and European contributions, Fatah transfers tens of millions of dollars to Gaza each month to pay the salaries of 70,000 Fatah-aligned PA employees in Gaza. That money frees Hamas from the need to develop Gaza's economy, enabling it to devote itself to building up its war machine against Israel.

Iranian military assistance includes both training and equipment. Thanks to Israel's decision six months ago to implement a largely one-sided cease-fire toward Hamas, since June, Hamas has doubled both the size and the range of its rocket and missile arsenals. Today it fields more than 10,000 rockets, missiles and mortars and has extended their range from 20 to 40 kilometers, placing major cities like Beersheba and Ashdod under threat.

If the government ever permits the IDF to defend the South by launching an offensive in Gaza, Hamas will be able to put up a very strong fight. Thanks to Iranian assistance and Israeli passivity, today Hamas's forces are organized much like Hizbullah forces were in 2006.

Hamas has raised a 16,000-man army divided into eight brigades. Its forces possess advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. Like Hizbullah, Hamas has developed sophisticated intelligence capabilities. And like Hizbullah it has constructed 50 kilometers of tunnels and bunkers along Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt.

As a member of the Iranian camp, Hamas deters Israel from attacking it by raising the specter that any serious IDF operation in Gaza will be answered by the entire axis. An Israeli strike in Gaza is liable to be greeted not only by Hamas but by Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.

Hamas allies drove this point home over the past week. As Hamas escalated its rocket offensive against Israel, Iran launched state-sponsored rallies in support of Hamas and announced it is sending a "humanitarian aid" ship to Gaza to break Israel's naval blockade. Hizbullah launched identical protests and likewise stated its intention of sending a "humanitarian aid" ship to Hamas.

Then, too, Hamas-controlled UNRWA announced on Thursday that it is suspending its food assistance to Gaza to protest Israel's blockade of the Gaza coastline. This in turn will generate an outcry in Europe and give Iran and Hizbullah an excuse to attack Israel for refusing to let their "humanitarian aid" ships dock in Gaza.

TO DATE, Israel's strategy for contending with Fatah's demise has been to deny it. As for Hamas, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government has adopted Defense Minister Ehud Barak's favored policy of speaking loudly and carrying no stick. As Abbas moves from failure to failure, they cling to him ever more tightly as Israel's irreplaceable interlocutor.

After Hamas renewed its war against Israel this week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Barak have all threatened to take action against Hamas. But at the same time, they have sent emissaries to Egypt to beg Hamas to reconsider its decision.

Since Abbas gave his final refusal last month to Olmert's pleas to finalize a peace deal with Israel before US President George W. Bush leaves office, and since Hamas renewed its mi
ssile offensive against Israel last month, Livni, Barak and Olmert have found it impossible to justify their policies to the public. With elections around the corner and with dozens of rockets and mortars now being launched against the country daily, Yediot Aharonot's leftist military columnist Alex Fishman tried to help them out.

In a front-page commentary on Thursday, Fishman gave four major justifications for their decision to allow Hamas to build up its armed forces without an Israeli challenge for the past six months.

First, he argued that had Israel not given Hamas a free pass for six months, Israel wouldn't have been able to negotiate the surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to Fatah.

Presumably this is so because had Israel opted to fight Hamas, Fatah would have sided with Hamas against Israel. Of course, given Fatah's preference for Hamas over Israel, it is unclear why negotiating with Fatah is in Israel's interest. But Fishman ignores that issue.

Fishman then claimed that by not attacking Hamas for six months, Israel has allowed two Palestinian "states" to be established – the Hamas state in Gaza, and the US- and Israel-sponsored Fatah state in Judea and Samaria. And again, this is supposed to be a good thing because if only one Hamas-Fatah state existed in both areas, then the Olmert-Livni-Barak government wouldn't have been able to negotiate the surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to Fatah. The fact that Hamas can and will overthrow a Fatah-run state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as easily as it overthrew the Fatah-run state in Gaza went unnoted by Fishman for some reason.

Fishman also argued that Israel's decision to stand down against Hamas has improved Israel's relations with Egypt. This assertion rings hollow, though. Throughout this period of supposedly improved relations, Egypt has continued to turn a blind eye to massive Iranian arms transfers to Hamas through its territory.

Finally, Fishman asserted that Israel's unilateral cease-fire toward Hamas has been a good thing for Israel because it facilitated the return of the so-called Saudi peace plan to the regional agenda. But since the Saudi plan requires Israel to commit national suicide by withdrawing to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and accepting millions of hostile, foreign-born Arabs as immigrants, it is hard to see why its return is a positive development for Israel.

And still, with Hamas now in the driver's seat and ready to roll out its new war against Israel together with its many allies, everyone who is anyone is putting his money on Abbas, who in less than three weeks will lose his last vestige of democratic legitimacy.

In his interview with the Post, Dayton couldn't think of a way that Hamas could be ejected from Gaza. On the other hand, it is self-evident that if the people betting on Abbas get their way and Israel gives Fatah Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, Hamas will quickly take over those areas as well.

That's what happens when you bet on a dead horse. You lose.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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8 Comments

  • Marcel Cousineau 12/19/2008 at 19:13

    This grand Dummies derby goes way back even before Abbas.The last glue horse everyone bet on was the drenched in innocent blood Arafat whom the west found easy to do business with.
    The crafty snakes of the west and Israel have been betting on the dead jihad peace horses since September of 93′
    Anyone not on drugs knows this whole Israel /Palestinain,Fatah,Hamas,Islam peace train is already in free fall off the cliff.
    What is so curious about this losing game is why Israel continues to play ? I wish someone would give me an answer as to why this terminal mental disease infect so many Jews who keep taking orders from the idiots and their incredibily failed plan?
    Anyone in private business with such failure would be on the street begging by now ,yet this failed scam of historic proportions has a life of it’s own around Israel’s ever shrinking neck.
    We know this horse race game is stacked for Israel to lose and lose big. No matter what happens (like the Hamas takeover of Gaza) the process always move forward into ever greater threats to Israel’s existence.The Islamic hordes are all under the protection and support of the west and Israel’s traitor’s in power,while Israel is required to do more self inflicted wounds for the cause of placating unplacatable jihadists.It’s clear to me that Israel is the sacrificial lamb which the non moslem nations of the wolrd offer to appease Islam.
    The reason Israel’s puppet’s only talk and will not invade Gaza and end Hamas is that it would prove the utter failure of the process started in 1993 on the White House lawn.
    They want to keep this dead horse going for only one reason and that is Israel’s elimination in crafty and carefully thought out stages.
    No Israel equals Middle East problem solved.
    THATS THE END GAME FEW JEWS WANT TO FACE !
    Something the dumb sheeple of Israel headed for a second holocaust are too naive to figure out. Just like their parents were in 30’s Europe until it was too late.

    Reply
  • Marc Handelsman, USA 12/19/2008 at 19:47

    The current government mistakenly believes, if Israel returns to the 1949 borders, that the country could defend itself. Kadima is in denial about the fallout from its 2005 giveaway of Gaza. The disgraced Gaza withdrawal plan permitted a Hamas haven that imperils Southern Israel. The longer Kadima stays in power the worse it gets for Israel. The UN and Kadima never miss an opportunity to back the wrong horse. At this rate, U.S. and NATO forces might establish an unwelcome DMZ between a possible Hamas-occupied Yesha and an indefensible Israel.

    Reply
  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 12/20/2008 at 0:01

    Caroline, no question you got this right.
    Since 1949 there has been no peace with your neighbors. It’s an on going battle to survive. They keep gaining while Israel continues to loose out, mainly because she listens to outside governments who think they have her interest at heart. Forget it.
    Damn, it’s not going to get any better until the citizens of Israel start paying attention to what is going on. Time to take a stand and tell these concerned governments to back off and Israel will determine what, if any peace plan is acceptable.
    The Palestinians, who are so disorganized, continue to claim they are for peace while working with Hamas and their friends Iran, Hizbullah and I will include Egypt.
    All while talking about it; shells keep coming from the Gaza Strip. There is no condemnation from the U.S. or the UN (worthless body). Are Israeli leaders sending a signal that the rocketing is only a nuisance?
    Let’s face it. Statehood for the Palestinians in Israel is not a good thing. The way they conduct themselves statehood is apparently not on their minds. Their goal is to continue to harass and be a thorn in the side of the Jewish citizens of Israel. Lap dog for Hamas.
    Come on Israeli’s wake up, especially those on the left. You need to come together as one and quit giving into the outside groups.

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  • Naima Qadri 12/20/2008 at 0:02

    Thank you Caroline for telling people the truth even though it is a little depressing.

    Reply
  • ex-dissident 12/20/2008 at 1:02

    The naive believe that Olmert, Livni, etc,… give a rat’s ass about anyone other than their selfish selves. They don’t care about Israelis or any other Jews. In the United States we just elected the same type of trash into presidency. God help us.

    Reply
  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 12/20/2008 at 15:36

    You know there is a saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”.
    Let’s just sit back and think for a minute and just maybe we can determine what the real under lying problem is.
    I for one and trust me I am not alone, believe that God has led the Jewish people back to the Holy Land of Israel. A place designed for His first born.
    God didn’t go overboard considering the vast land of the Middle East. He settled the Jews to this small sliver of property with Jerusalem being the center piece. He didn’t provide them with great wells of oil to allow them to grow. No, He provided His people with the natural resources, the people themselves to develop this Nation. I don’t believe anyone can argue with this assertion.
    For some reason, not logical at all a small group of Arabs, the Palestinians have found it necessary to attempt to create a Statehood right in the middle of this sliver of land called Israel. From the very beginning these Arabs and Jews did not get along. Not much has changed.
    It would be safe to say that these two, the Palestinians and Jews as a whole do not mix well. Like water and oil amongst other too many to mention. And the prospect of that changing doesn’t appear likely.
    Now, having said that, tell me why is it so necessary that we take the Palestinians (square peg) and try to force them into a Jewish Nation (a round hole). This just doesn’t make sense. Both parties suffer.
    And worst of all it’s the outsiders who are the ones pushing the square peg in the round hole and the result is friction. It’s not space science.
    Now being it’s God’s will for the Jewish people to be home in Israel, why should anyone attempt change it. Regardless of one’s faith, we all ask in prayer that we will accept God’s will. “God’s will be done”.
    I for one don’t like the idea of going against His will. Another old saying, “You can’t buck city hall”. That comes no where near bucking the Old Mighty. If you are a gambler, trust me Vegas would side with God regardless of the point spread.
    We have all the so called masterminds with various road maps for peace. They need to put all their heads together and channel all their energy and find a road map that will lead the Palestinians to another location somewhere in this vast Arab world to settle and call their own. I am sure if this is possible, the Jewish Nation would lend a hand. After all we are witness to the development of Israel by the Jews in becoming a sound, viable and prosperous nation.
    In addition I am sure we could count on former president Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity to play a part in this relocation.
    If the Arab world would put aside the jealousy and hate for the Jews and consider being constructive rather than destructive and hateful, then just maybe peace can be a reality in this region.
    We are approaching the sacred religious celebrations of both Christians and Jews. Let’s take this time to ask our Almighty God in haven to provide us with the good sense to work this all out.

    Reply
  • FRAN MEANEY 12/20/2008 at 19:07

    Condoleeza Rice has betrayed President Bush with her appeasement policies for the Arabs, Iran and North Korea. Israel needs to do what it needs to do to defend itself. A strong, courageous leader is needed. Netanyahu must be elected on February 10th. There is peril between January 9th and February 10th. Added danger for Israel arrives on January 20th. We pray for the survival of Israel.

    Reply
  • lawrence kohn 12/22/2008 at 21:49

    Despite the surface close of Ken Dayton’s “they stood fast for five days” the Fatah-Hamas dispute is part of the good cop bad cop game Arafat played. The takeover was just too easy and it is interesting that Abu Mazen’s partner/boss, Putin, as Glick reported, sent Russian security forces into Gaza following the eviction of the Jewish communities. Only after that did Iran and Hamas cement its alliance. Putin came out for Hamas and Iran is Russia’s client as is Syria and indirectly Hizbullah (remember the late unlamented by us) Mugniyeh was in Arafat’s Force 17 before becoming Hizbullah. Fatah is not a dead horse but now a stalking horse and will follow whatever trail is dictated. It doesn’t matter who runs Judea/Samaria or Gaza between Hamas and Fatah. Sure ultimately in the wake of their desired extinction of Israel they would battle for supremacy but the agreed upon script is whatever will lead to Israel’s demise. Regional war has always been what has held Israel back even preceding Operation Defensive Shield. Each concession has made the subsequent dance more delicate and has increased the cards the radical groups and radical states have to play. The Saudis gain points from the US with each intervention from Iran directly or through its Shiite proxies but the idea of Israel joining the Sunnis in an alliance against Shia won’t wash. All these differences take second place to the fundamental one of Israel the dhimmi/Western outpost is unacceptable. The US caught in the Saudi web and blind to Russia’s never changing ambitions facilitates the diminishing of Israel’s strategic position and contrary to US long term interests makes Israel more of a client than an ally. The Security Council resolution and our new national security advisor’s desire for Euro troops to enter Gaza will only push this disaster further along. The days of Shimon Peres warning about bringing the Russians closer to the gates of Jerusalem through concessions to their Arab clients are long gone in the mistaken belief that the Cold War is over and that the Shia threat to Sunnis will draw Arabs and Jews closer together.

    Reply

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