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Palestine: Damage limitation
by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday Dec 14th, 2006 9:46 AM
Rather than moving towards a national unity government, tensions between Fatah and Hamas are threatening to tear the Palestinian street apart, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
As Fatah continues to raise the ante in preparation for a possible showdown with Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to deliver an important speech on 16 December in which he will call for early general elections while leaving the door open for further efforts to form a government of national unity.

Fatah has been organising violent demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank, calling on Abbas to "remove this calamitous government immediately". Unlike other recent protests, which were mainly over unpaid wages, the new round of demonstrations appear to be motivated by vengefulness as Fatah attempts to oust Hamas from government.

The 11 December killing in downtown Gaza of three school children of a Fatah security official, and the subsequent assassination of a Hamas-affiliated judge in Khan Yunis yesterday, will increase tensions between the two camps amid the already poisoned atmosphere of incitement and counter- incitement.

It is not clear yet who committed the murders of the schoolchildren, an action strongly condemned by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday Dec 14th, 2006 9:47 AM
Haniyeh does further damage to a forlorn Abbas, scoring major funding from Iran for the Palestinian people, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

While Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is still counting on the US and the EU -- and probably Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well -- to "strengthen" his position against the Hamas-led government, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has been scoring success after success in his extended tour of a number of Arab and Muslim states in the region.

On Tuesday, Haniyeh wrapped up a three-day visit to Tehran during which he held high-profile meetings with top Iranian officials, including Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The meetings were more than just courteous encounters between heads of an emerging regional superpower and the leader of a beleaguered government that the US and Israel have been hell-bent on scuttling for its refusal to bow to Zionist- colonialist diktat.

In fact, Iran decided to give Haniyeh more than he had ever dreamt of. In the words of one Palestinian observer, the Iranians treated Haniyeh like a second prodigal son (the first being Hizbullah). On Monday, the Palestinian prime minister, who had earlier referred to Iran as "our strategic depth", termed his visit "historical and very, very successful". "We reached our goals on this visit. We found all the love possible to give to the Palestinian people," Haniyeh said during a brief press conference at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran.