First Israel and Western governments wanted democratic elections in Gaza and the West Bank. They got them, to universal recognition that the elections were fairly and duly held. But, the outcome was not the desired one. Hamas won! So, Israel and the US embarked on efforts to undermine the new government including, with the assistance of European nations, starving the Palestinians of both aide and monies due and payable to them.
So, today we witness an allegedly new Palestinian government whilst Gaza is completely isolated. PM Olmert has already spoken of the benefits for peace this all brings about. A more sober assessment where this is all headed is that of Steven Erlanger, NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief:
"After the failure of the Palestinian unity government, Mr. Olmert said in an interview with The New York Times, “I suggest we look at things in a much more realistic manner and with less self-deceit.”
But like all seemingly elegant solutions in this region, this one has many pitfalls. It is entirely unclear whether Hamas would sit still during such an effort, whether Mr. Abbas would be willing to ignore the 1.5 million residents of Gaza or whether the separation strategy would gain the crucial support of the Arab world.
As Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation and the New America Foundation in Washington suggests, it’s hard to imagine how Mr. Abbas could accept the tax receipts Israel has been withholding from the Hamas government and use them only for West Bankers. The Palestinians in Gaza and the refugee diaspora would not stand for it, he says, and Fatah might lose more popularity than it gains."
Meanwhile, Uri Avnery, an insightful observer and commentator, writes:
"The American aim is clear. President Bush has chosen a local leader for every Muslim country, who will rule it under American protection and follow American orders. In Iraq, in Lebanon, in Afghanistan, and also in Palestine.
Hamas believes that the man marked for this job in Gaza is Mohammed Dahlan. For years it has looked as if he was being groomed for this position. The American and Israeli media have been singing his praises, describing him as a strong, determined leader, "moderate" (i.e. obedient to American orders) and "pragmatic" (i.e. obedient to Israeli orders). And the more the Americans and Israelis lauded Dahlan, the more they undermined his standing among the Palestinians. Especially as Dahlan was away in Cairo, as if waiting for his men to receive the promised arms.
In the eyes of Hamas, the attack on the Fatah strongholds in the Gaza Strip is a preventive war. The organizations of Abbas and Dahlan melted like snow in the Palestinian sun. Hamas has easily taken over the whole Gaza Strip.
How could the American and Israeli generals miscalculate so badly? They are able to think only in strictly military terms: so-and-so many soldiers, so-and-so many machine guns. But in interior struggles in particular, quantitative calculations are secondary. The morale of the fighters and public sentiment are far more important. The members of the Fatah organizations do not know what they are fighting for. The Gaza population supports Hamas, because they believe that it is fighting the Israeli occupier. Their opponents look like collaborators of the occupation. The American statements about their intention of arming them with Israeli weapons have finally condemned them."