Conflict between Hamas and Fatah Prevents the Reconstruction of Gaza

Dec. 23 2014

According to the cease-fire agreement that ended the summer’s war, as well as the preconditions set by the states pledging to reconstruct Gaza, Hamas is to relinquish partial control of the strip to the Palestinian Authority. But the two have proved unable or unwilling to cooperate. As a result, only a small fraction of the billions of dollars in earmarked aid has been delivered, while buildings destroyed in the fighting remain in ruins. Israel seems to be the one party interested in helping, while Hamas is contemplating another war. Neri Zilber writes:

Israel, of all the parties involved, has shown the greatest degree of flexibility toward a Gaza Strip still ruled by Hamas. In addition to acquiescing in the salary payments, Israel has begun easing restrictions on construction materials and other goods entering the territory, and on certain products (fish, cucumbers) and people exiting. Israel has given its consent to an elaborate UN-led inspection mechanism for reconstruction, which . . . has not yet begun in earnest due to the lack of a PA presence on the ground. “I can’t say that it’s because of Israel that there has been no movement [on reconstruction] at present,” [a] senior UN official said, a sentiment shared by several other foreign diplomats I spoke to in Jerusalem. . . .

Sheikh Mahmoud Musleh, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank whom I spoke to, had no illusions about the purpose of the new squeeze around his group. “What they are seeking is the end of Hamas military power in the Gaza Strip,” he observed. “This is the main impediment [to reconciliation with the PA].” When I inquired whether his group would consider laying down their arms for the greater welfare of the Gazan people, the answer was definitive: “This is impossible.”

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More about: Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, Protective Edge

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism