A Palestinian Civil War? It’s About Time

You have to suspect that these two stories are related.

Here’s story #1:

“The Palestinian territories were in a state of near civil war, and just one act of violence, such as a high-profile assassination, could trigger mayhem, an international think-tank said yesterday.

….The think-tank, the International Crisis Group, said President Mahmoud Abbas’ determination to hold a referendum on July 26 on a statehood proposal that implicitly recognises Israel risked igniting more fighting with the ruling Hamas militant group. Abbas and the Hamas government have been locked in a power struggle since Hamas took office after trouncing the Fatah movement in elections.

“Today the situation is but one tragic step — the assassination of a senior Fatah or Hamas leader, for example — from all-out chaos,” said the report from the Brussels-based think-tank, an organisation that seeks to prevent and resolve conflict.”

Now, here’s story #2:

“Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday he has given the go-ahead for a shipment of weapons to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whose loyalists are engaged in bitter infighting with the militant Islamic Hamas.

Violence between armed members of Hamas and forces from Mr. Abbas’s rival Fatah movement have killed 20 Palestinians over the last month.

“I authorized last night the transfer of arms and ammunition to Chairman Abu Mazen in order to strengthen his presidential guard, so he can strengthen his forces against Hamas,” Mr. Olmert said, referring to Mr. Abbas by his widely used nickname.

“I did this because we are running out of time and we need to help Abu Mazen,” Mr. Olmert said at a meeting with members of Britain’s Parliament.”

At some point, if the “land for peace” deal between the Israelis and Palestinians is ever going to have a chance to happen, someone on the Palestinian side is going to have to achieve a monopoly on force. In other words, it’s pointless for Israel to try to negotiate a permanent settlement with the Palestinians as long as there are terrorist groups that the government can’t coerce into abiding by the terms of the agreement.

That’s why, believe it or not, a civil war has the potential to be a big step forward in the conflict. And since Israel is giving weapons to Fatah, it appears that they would prefer them to be the winners. That’s understandable given that Hamas openly favors an Israeli genocide while Fatah at least claims to be willing to settle for a two state solution.

However the fighting eventually turns out, it’s better to have the terrorists targeting each other instead of the Israelis, so let’s hope the Palestinian civil war really gets going soon.

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