Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Love of the Land: Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
10 May 11


The two main partners in the new Palestinian government, Hamas and Fatah, have chosen to celebrate their unity accord by targeting anyone who helps Israel.

This means that the new unity government, which is supposed to be established in the coming weeks, would not only be opposed to compromise, but would also target those who maintain contacts with Israelis.

The timing of a recent execution in the Gaza Strip was seen as a warning message from Hamas to Fatah against continued "collaboration" with Israel.

Just hours before the signing of the Palestinian "reconciliation" pact in Cairo last week, the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip announced the execution by firing squad of Abdel Karim Shrair, 37, on charges of "collaboration" with Israel.

Days later in the West Bank, Palestinian gunmen believed to be members of Fatah, murdered Mohammed Khawaldi, 32, who had also been accused of "collaboration" with Israel.

Instead of issuing a condemnation, Fatah rushed to murder a "collaborator" in the West Bank – as if it is trying to tell the Palestinians: "You see, we are also capable of killing people who help Israel."

Fatah's failure to condemn the execution is a sign that the secular faction does not want to anger its new partner: Hamas.

Whatever Shrair did to help Israel, it could not have been more than what Abbas and Fayyad have done over the past few years. The two meet with Israelis on a regular basis and support security coordination between their security forces and the Israelis.

In the eyes of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayyad are also "traitors" because they have agreed -- at least in English and in public -- to recognize Israel's right to exist. If Abbas and Fayyad were to stand trail before a court on all what Hamas has accused them of doing, they too would end up facing a firing squad.

Shrair, after all, was also affiliated with Fatah, and had served in their security forces before Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

Citing Fatah security forces' security coordination with Israel, Hamas had previously refused to sign the unity accord, demanding an end to all forms of collaboration with Israel.

In the end, under Egyptian pressure, Hamas agreed temporarily to drop its condition.

The issue of security coordination between the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank and Israel had been a major obstacle to ending the dispute between the two rival Palestinian factions.

Over the past four years, Hamas complained that this security coordination has resulted in the arrest and of hundreds of its followers in the West Bank. The coordination, according to Hamas, has also led to the elimination of many Hamas-linked institutions in the West Bank.

Hamas has also accused Fatah leaders of helping Israel during the 2008 Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip known as Operation Cast Lead.

But now it appears that Hamas is willing to sit in a unity government with Palestinians it still considers to be "collaborators" with Israel.

The decision to execute Shrair hours before the signing ceremony in Cairo is an indication that Hamas continues to see the issue of collaboration with Israel as a very serious matter. Many Palestinians see it as a warning and challenge to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

Love of the Land: Hamas's Newest "Collaborators": Fatah

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