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March 09, 2003

Analysis / Abu Mazen appointment could challenge Hamas

Danny Rubenstein of Haaretz dissusses the implications for the near future of the moderate Abu Mazin and the assasination of al-Makadme
[...]Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat on Saturday described al-Makadme's assassination as a "mafia-style" operation conducted by Israeli security forces. His statement reflected Palestinian leaders' concern that the assassination could aid Hamas spokesmen in mounting a major media campaign against the PA, which is busy attempting find to pave a way back to political negotiations with Israel. "While you sit at the negotiating table with the Zionists, they are massacring us," say Hamas activists, just as the Palestinian Liberation Organization central council and the Palestinian Legislative Council are convening in Ramallah.

There is no Hamas representation in either of the two Palestinian national bodies - which are discussing the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as Palestinian prime minister - even though Hamas is the second largest Palestinian movement (and some say that it already has more followers in the Gaza Strip than Arafat's Fatah party). Indeed, the political positions of the new Palestinian prime minister directly contradict those of Hamas.

Abu Mazen helped forge the Oslo agreements, which Hamas considered one of the most treacherous acts in the history of the Palestinian nation. He is also one of the few Palestinian senior leaders who doesn't hesitate to publicly voice his opposition to the use of violence in the intifada. In negotiations held between Palestinian organizations in Cairo over the last few weeks, Abu Mazen, representing Fatah, argued vociferously with Hamas delegation representative, Haled Mashal, regarding the Egyptian proposalt to halt terror attacks.

Hamas could interpret Abu Mazen's appointment as an open provocation. As of now, with the assassination of al-Makadme, it's almost certain that Hamas leaders will go back to hinting that PA security forces are cooperating with Israeli security forces in an effort to eliminate Hamas altogether.[more]