Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Civil War in Gaza?...It's About Time!!

The situation in Gaza seems to be deteriorating, as gunfights between members of Hamas and Fatah become more common. Despite promises from the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, that a civil war would not break out, the deployment of a new militia by Hamas, which is opposed by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, seems likely to push matter over the edge.

To which I say...it's about time. The Palestinians have, for far too long, between far too feckless
in establishing internal sovereignty and a unified monopoly of force in the hands of the government. Regardless of where one stands on the peace process, so long as there are multiple armed militias running around, attacking Israelis and each other, it will be nearly impossible for the Palestinians to participate in the peace process. Arafat refused to confront the militias, as did Abbas. Now, Hamas seems unwilling to do so as well. This is a big mistake.

First, the presence of multiple armed factions makes it difficult for the Palestinians to get anywhere in the negotiations. Where intentionally or not, it's impossible for Israel to negotiate with a government that is incapable of making a serious effort to rein in acts of violence. Secondly, from an internal perspective, no matter who is the governing party, it is essential that a functioning government enjoy a monopoly of force. So long as there are competing factions that refuse to be bound by law, the Palestinian political entity has no hope of viability.

While it will, of course, likely involve even more hardships for the Palestinian people, a civil war to decide, once and for all, how power should be wielded is essential for the future of the Palestinians.

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