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July 18, 2017

The Washington Post Notes Growing Hamas-Fatah Tensions

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Mohammad Dahlan


A July 13, 2017 Washington Post report (“Abbas increases Gazans’ pain in feud with Hamas”) highlighted growing tensions between Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The front-page article is a welcome departure from the paper’s history of underreporting Palestinian affairs, a problem that CAMERA has documented and brought to the attention of Post staff.

Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and reporter Hazem Balousha noted that PA “President Mahmoud Abbas is pursuing a high-risk campaign in the Gaza Strip” by reducing salaries for Gaza-based PA-employees, withholding permissions for medical patients to leave and cutting payments for the electricity provided to Gaza by Israel.

The Post pointed out that Abbas’ strategy is filled with risks, including Hamas attacking Israel in an attempt to draw Israel into the internecine Palestinian conflict. Citing an interview that Abbas, who also leads the Fatah movement that dominates the PA, gave to Asharq Al-Aswat newspaper, the paper noted that the Palestinian leader was “prepared to go even further, threatening to impose sanctions against Hamas and free funds for its leaders.” Such tactics, Booth and Balousha say, are “unprecedented in the decade-long split between the rulers of Gaza and the West Bank.”

The report noted that the lack of power has resulted in rolling blackouts, factories shutting down and pressure on “Gaza’s dysfunctional sewage system.”

It’s a precipitous time to put pressure on Hamas. The Post correctly highlighted that Egypt has outlawed “the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of Hamas,” and other long-time supporters and enablers, such as Qatar and Turkey, have been facing pressure as late.

Increased tensions between Hamas and Fatah, as well as problems confronting the former, have led to weird bedfellows. The dispatch detailed Hamas’ recent embrace of a former Fatah operative named Mohammad Dahlan, who was exiled by Abbas in 2011. Before the PA President—currently in the twelfth year of a single elected four-year term—expelled him as a possible rival, Dahlan was his enforcer tasked with running the authority’s security services in the Gaza Strip—a role that naturally brought him in conflict with Hamas. Now, under the auspices of Hamas, he’s looking to reenter Gaza and the Palestinian political fray.

In several recent Op-Eds (see here, here and here, for examples), CAMERA has highlighted how The Post frequently neglects internal Palestinian affairs, including Abbas’ autocratic tendencies and possible rivals, as well as the energy crisis in the Gaza Strip. The net effect of only covering Palestinians through an Israel-fixated lens, as CAMERA told Post staff in an June 2017 meeting, is to deprive them of independent agency—and to deprive readers of the full story.

This report is a welcome, if belated, change.

Posted by SD at July 18, 2017 10:14 AM

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