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As Hamas Seizes Full Control of Gaza and US Prepares Further Isolation, What Next for Palestinians?
Friday, June 15, 2007 : With Hamas now in full control of the Gaza Strip following a week of deadly violence, Palestinians are bracing for further uncertainty as the Occupied Territories is divided with the other main Palestinian faction Fatah. We go to Gaza for a report from independent journalist Fares Akram, and get analysis from Palestinian filmmaker and journalist Laila el-Haddad and author and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abuminah.
Hamas is in full control of the Gaza Strip following days of bloody clashes with rival Palestinian faction Fatah. Hamas militants seized the presidential compound in Gaza City overnight after a week of fighting, which has left more than 100 people dead.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday announced the dismissal of the Hamas-led government and declared a state of emergency. Abbas said he would now rule by presidential decree until the conditions were right for early elections. However, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya says his government will press on and impose law and order.
The Occupied Territories have now been effectively split into two separate entities with Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah controlling the West Bank. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Agence France Presse: “This is the worst thing I’ve seen since 1967.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave her backing to Mahmoud Abbas, saying he had exercised his “lawful authority.” There are reports today the Bush administration will boost aid to Abbas while allowing Gaza to slip into further despair in order to weaken Hamas’ popular standing. Meanwhile, Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning to tell President Bush that that there is an urgent need to view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as separate entities and prevent contact between them. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held preliminary talks on the idea of sending an international force to Gaza, but Hamas rejected the move, saying it would treat foreign troops as occupation forces.
There are new fears violence will now spread to the West Bank where Fatah militants have rounded up nearly 90 Hamas fighters and claimed to have killed a Hamas member in retaliation for events in Gaza.
This all comes as new details emerge about criticism from a former top UN envoy on the U.S. and UN role in Israel and the Occupied Territories. In a confidential report disclosed earlier this week, Alvaro de Soto condemns the boycott on the Palestinian government and says the U.S. and Israel virtually neutralized prospects for peace.
Ali Abunimah . Cofounder of the online publication Electronic Intifada . He is the author of “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.”
Laila el-Haddad . Palestinian journalist and mother living in Gaza. She writes for Aljazeera.net and is making a film on Gaza's underground economy. She maintains her own blog “Raising Youssef: A Diary of a Mother Under Occupation.”
Fares Akram . Freelance journalist in Gaza city.LISTEN ONLINE