[Freemanlist2] Recipe for War: Unilateral Withdrawal from West Bank by Khaled Abu Toameh

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Even if the Islamists do not take over the West Bank in the aftermath of a 
unilateral Israeli pullout, it is almost certain that the Palestinian 
Authority would not be able to prevent local gangs and clans from seizing power.


Recipe for War: Unilateral Withdrawal from West Bank

by Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute June 8, 2012 at 5:00 am
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3101/unilateral-withdrawal-west-bank

As before, Hamas's chances of taking over the West Bank are high after the 
failure of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction to implement significant reforms or 
combat rampant corruption.

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak believes that Israel should consider a 
unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the 
Palestinian Authority fail to bear fruit.

Under the current circumstances, such a move would lead to the creation of 
another radical Palestinian Islamic entity, this time in those parts of the 
West Bank that would be handed over to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad.

Any land that is handed over to the Palestinian Authority would end up in 
the hands of Hamas.

In the summer of 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, passing it to 
Abbas and his 40,000-strong Fatah-dominated security forces.

A few months later, thanks to a free and fair parliamentary election that 
was held at the request of the US and some EU countries, Hamas came to 
power.

One of the main reasons Hamas scored a victory in that election was because 
it took credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip through rockets and 
suicide bombings.

A year later, in the summer of 2007, it took fewer than 10,000 Hamas 
militiamen to defeat Abbas's security forces and bring down the entire 
Palestinian Authority regime in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas's rule over the Gaza Strip has since brought more suffering and 
bloodshed for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Once Israel carries out a unilateral withdrawal, the same scenario is likely 
to be repeated in the West Bank.

Even though Hamas does not have a strong military presence in the West Bank, 
the movement seems to enjoy much popularity among Palestinians.

The so-called Arab Spring, which has seen the rise of Islamists to power in 
a number of Arab countries, has emboldened Hamas and other radical 
Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad.

These groups have managed to attract many followers by offering themselves 
as the best alternative to Western-backed corrupt secular dictatorships in 
the Arab world.

As before, Hamas's chances of taking over the West Bank are high after the 
failure of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction to implement significant reforms or 
combat rampant corruption.

Fatah lost the 2006 parliamentary election mainly because of its leaders' 
involvement in the embezzlement of public funds. Since then, Fatah has 
failed to draw the conclusions from its defeat and has not even been able to 
come up with a new list of capable candidates that could attract Palestinian 
voters.

The same Fatah men who lost the vote are, in fact, continuing to run the 
show in Ramallah -- as if they had never lost.

Even if the Islamists do not take over the West Bank in the aftermath of a 
unilateral Israeli pullout, it is almost certain that the Palestinian 
Authority would not be able to prevent local gangs and clans from seizing 
power.

The case of Jenin, a city in the West Bank, is a good example of the 
weakness of the Palestinian Authority security forces, especially with 
regard to imposing law and order: Palestinian Authority officials have 
admitted that Jenin has been controlled over the past two years by Fatah 
militiamen and thugs who worked closely with many top Palestinian security 
officers, imposing a reign of terror and intimidation on the city's 
residents.

A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank could mean that Palestinian 
cities like Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron would fall either 
into the hands of Hamas or armed Fatah gangs.

Abbas and Fayyad would not be able to do much to prevent a return to scenes 
of anarchy and lawlessness that were once prevalent on the Palestinian 
street.

The chaos and violence inside the Palestinian cities would also spill over 
into Israel, forcing it to launch another "Defensive Shield" type of 
operation, like the one in 2002, to clear the area of armed gangs.

Before withdrawing from any area, Israel needs to make sure that those who 
would be in charge would not run away, handing the territories to Hamas or 
any other local gangs. Under the current circumstances, a unilateral and 
unconditional withdrawal would only be a recipe for more violence and 
bloodshed and repression 

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