Hamas and Buddies vs. Fatah and Buddies – Internal Terror Conflict!

Hamas and Buddies vs. Fatah and Buddies – Internal Terror Conflict!

October 30, 2006


Begin DEBKAfile Exclusive

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Sources reports Fatah and Hamas brace for armed showdown after breakdown of the Saudi-Egyptian initiative for unity government and release of Israeli soldier

October 27, 2006, 11:34 PM (GMT+02:00)

To avert a bloody showdown, their commanders met in Gaza City and Hebron Friday night but failed to agree on a venue for talks. Our Middle East and intelligence sources disclose: The failed peace initiative was kicked off by a Saudi invitation to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal. They tried to prevail on him to accept a deal for Hamas and Fatah to set up a national unity government under the incumbent Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh and trade the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit kidnapped by Hamas for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners

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in Israeli jails, including high-profile convicted terrorists.

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Had Meshaal agreed to continue to Cairo to seal the plan at an Arab mini-summit with Saudi, Syrian and Egyptian officials and the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the hard-line Hamas leader would have been granted a private audience with King Abdullah and the Riyadh would have resumed its stipend to his movement. But Meshaal spurned the deal.

Instead of traveling to Cairo, he went straight to Damascus Friday, having opted to stick with Tehran rather than switch to the moderate Arab camp. He also announced Shalit would not be freed and cut Hamas loose for an armed showdown with Fatah.

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Reading the signals, the rival Palestinian forces have called up their troops and are in heightened preparedness for battle in Gaza and the West Bank.

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End DEBKAfile Exclusive

Begin Jerusalem Post Article

Abbas hopes to import PLO reinforcements from Jordan

Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST

October 28, 2006

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hopes to beef up his loyalist forces with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) troops stationed in Jordan, Palestinian officials said, as rival factions bolstered their ranks in anticipation of a feared civil war.

Israel has objected in the past to letting members of the Jordan-based Badr Brigade enter Palestinian areas. But with clashes intensifying between Abbas’ Fatah Party and forces loyal to the Palestinians’ militantly anti-Israel Hamas government, Israeli officials said they would consider allowing them in, the Palestinian officials said.

Israeli authorities weren’t immediately available for comment.

Palestinian officials did not say how many Badr forces Abbas hopes to mobilize. What is most important to him is that he would command their loyalty as head of the PLO.

Abbas, elected separately last year, is nominally the supreme commander of all seven Palestinian security branches, and most security personnel were hired by Fatah, which controlled the Palestinian Authority for more than a decade. But after Hamas swept Fatah out of office in January elections, it set up a militia of its own, which now numbers 5,700 armed men, and has announced plans to recruit an additional 1,500 forces in the West Bank, Fatah’s stronghold.

The rival security forces have clashed frequently in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks as political tensions between the two sides grow. The violence has left more than a dozen dead and stoked fears of a bloody showdown.

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The threat of heightened unrest led Palestinian officials from both sides to increase police presence on Saturday.

In Gaza, police in blue-and-white camouflage uniforms deployed around the parliament building, and in the West Bank town of Ramallah, security personnel were posted outside parliament, the Prime Minister’s office and the Education Ministry.

In an attempt to ease tensions, a coordinating committee for all Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, met on Friday night in Gaza, and agreed to remove all their non-uniformed gunmen from the streets.

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The confrontations have heated up amid Abbas’ efforts to ease crippling international sanctions by persuading Hamas to moderate its anti-Israel stance and ally with Fatah in a coalition government.

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The EU, U.S. and other donors cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas took power in March. Despite growing hardship in the Palestinian areas, Hamas has rejected international calls to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Abbas plans to dissolve the Hamas-led government within two weeks if the Islamic militant group doesn’t agree to form a coalition with Fatah, Palestinian officials said Friday.

Meanwhile, Palestinian factions that kidnapped an Israeli soldier four months ago offered conflicting assessments Saturday on whether a prisoner swap deal was imminent.

Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, said his faction has agreed to an Egyptian proposal to release Cpl. Gilad Shalit in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

“There is an Egyptian proposal that would include the release of our Palestinian prisoners and we agreed on this proposal,” he said.

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“We expect a solution to our prisoners case in the near future.”

But a spokesman for the military wing of the Palestinians’ ruling Hamas Party said prospects for an imminent deal have faded.

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“There were hopes for a deal some days ago, but there’s no new advances because the Zionist enemy hasn’t said anything on accepting the conditions we set foward,” spokesman Abu Obeidah said.

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He wouldn’t be more specific.

Israeli officials have said they were unaware of any progress to win Shalit’s release.

Shalit was captured June 25 in a cross-border raid and is believed to be held in Gaza. His abduction sparked an Israeli military offensive there that has killed more than 200 Palestinians, most of them militants.

Separately, Abbas confidant Saeb Erekat announced in Ramallah that the Palestinians’ gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to drop 28 percent in 2006 to $2.9 billion (€2.3 billion) from $4.04 billion (€3.2 billion) in 2005. The projections were based on data from the first nine months of the year, Erekat said.

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Investments this year are projected to drop 60 percent to $400 million (€320 million), from $1 billion (€800 million) in 2005, he said.

Erekat blamed the decline on the international aid freeze, imposed in March to pressure Hamas to recognize Israel and disarm, and Israeli closures of vital border crossings.

He warned that if the economic decline continued, the Palestinian areas would face “total collapse.”

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