While PM Olmert prepares for a visit from Condoleeza Rice — who will certainly be wanting to talk about new ways of ‘strengthening Abbas’ — Hamas has been strengthening itself in Gaza:
Hamas’ military industry is giving serial production numbers to the roadside charges and Qassam rockets it manufactures, a senior intelligence officer in the Southern Command told Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi during his visit to the rocket-battered town of Sderot on Monday.
According to the officer, intelligence sources believe that a real ‘Hamas army’ exists in the Gaza Strip and includes between 7,000 and 10,000 soldiers, who are being armed continuously with weapons smuggled through the Philadelphi route…
In spite of the smuggling of weapons from Egypt to Gaza, the most worrying thing as far as the IDF and the Shin Bet are concerned, is the fact that representatives of the organization acquire knowledge outside the Strip, mainly in Tehran.
The return of the “students” to Gaza and the passing of knowledge to many others constitutes a key threat which cannot be fully addressed even through a wide-scale ground operation in the Strip. — YNet
Meanwhile, Rice will be talking to Israeli PM Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas, in the words of US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack,
…to try to move the process forward, move the Israeli-Palestinian track forward — a number of different levels, to talk on a very practical level day to day, how can each side try to make the lives of their respective populations a bit better. And on both sides, we know what that entails, so — and also to try to talk a little bit about the political horizon and the fact that it is important to work at both levels. So it’s also a trip that was intended to support Prime Minister Olmert’s statements about wanting to build a foundation for discussions about a future Palestinian state. It’s also a trip that’s designed to support President Abbas.
Translation: Israel will be told to free prisoners, continue transferring funds, remove roadblocks and checkpoints from the West Bank, etc. Abbas will be asked to say that he is opposed to terrorism. Then everyone will say how wonderful it will be when Palestine is established with Abbas as President, all the while ignoring the monster in the basement.
McCormack continues and does say a number of negative things about Hamas. But then he adds,
Now, it’s our view that President Abbas is the President for all the Palestinian people that Prime Minister Fayyad is the Prime Minister for all the Palestinian people. But ultimately, they’re going to need to reconcile those differences.
What could he possibly mean? Is he suggesting that some day Hamas will just give up, and go away? Will it accept a Palestinian government for “all the people” run by Abbas? I don’t think they machine-gunned and deculmenated* all of those Fatah people in order to fade away. Or is he suggesting that Fatah and Hamas must ultimately join together in some kind of unity government?
Since the latter is apparently the position of the Saudi regime, it would not surprise me at all to learn that the US State Department feels the same way.
Interestingly, an Arab League delegation may or may not be coming to Jerusalem this week, and it may or may not represent the Arab league, but in any event the intent is to push the Arab League Peace Initiative again. It’s likely that this will be conditioned on unity among Palestinian factions. The “international community” will be hard put to object, since it is all in the interest of peace.
Of course, if the Palestinians decide to kiss and make up, or at least pretend to work together, all of the aid and weapons that have been given to Abbas to “strengthen” him will also be in the hands of Hamas; and Hamas members will come in out of the cold as part of the new Palestinian regime.
* Deculmenate – v., to throw off of a roof (after the model of defenestrate).