Israel arms Fatah against Hamas

…as if they don’t have enough weapons!

By Vic Rosenthal

The NY Times reports today that Egypt has sent a shipment of small arms to Mahmoud Abbas’ ‘Presidential Guard’, with Israeli and US coordination. According to various reports, the shipment includes 2,000 AK47’s and 2 million rounds of ammuntion.

Since Fatah has never officially changed its charter to recognize Israel’s existence, and since the Al Aksa Martyr’s brigades, a group currently firing Kassam missiles at Israel, is part of Fatah, this is hard to understand.

However, the US has continued to maintain its position that the weak,Mahmoud Abbas unpopular, Abbas must be ‘strengthened’ against Hamas so that the ‘peace process’ (as if!) can go forward. From the US point of view, Abbas is a moderate because he will utter the correct formulas, at least when speaking English.

Anshel Pffefer, writing in the Jerusalem Post, suggests that since both factions are already armed to the teeth, 2000 rifles will have little impact on the real balance of power between Fatah and Hamas. It is therefore a gesture of support for one side in the internal Palestinian struggle.

This is a perilous strategy for Israel, since it actually weakens Abbas’ position among the Palestinians, who see him as a tool of the enemy. Israel certainly understands this. So why are they doing it?

In my opinion, they have received instructions from the US to do so. While American policy makers understand the situation well enough, they have an additional consideration over and above Israel’s welfare, and that is both international and domestic politics. They are under considerable pressure to ‘do something’ to break the stalemate and to make it possible for the PA to receive financial aid. By helping Abbas they improve their image domestically, and can extract more ‘magic formulas’ from him; at the same time, by actually hurting Israel they can please Russia and the EU.

And we’ve seen that Israel, at least lately, always follows her instructions from Washington.

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One Response to “Israel arms Fatah against Hamas”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    My guess is that this analysis is the correct one. It is the pressure on America to do something (From the Europeans and Saudi Arabia) which leads to pressure on Israel which leads to concessions which Israel calculates will not be greatly damaging to its own security.
    However aside from the negative political perception in terms of the Palestinians relation to Abbas, I think the Israeli moral perception should be paramount. And that perception says that after Oslo when guns were given to those who used them to kill Israelis, it is forbidden to take such action again.