Monday, December 18, 2006
Two rival Palestinian governments emerge as Mahmoud Abbas updates Condoleezza Rice on the Palestinian scene after his early poll call
Courtesy of DEBKAfile:
The chairman of the Palestinian central elections committee says that technically he needs at least 140 days to prepare the polls, which Hamas vows to boycott.
Hamas’s flat rejection of Abu Mazen’s authority to call early elections for the president and parliament and the consequent factional violence is polarizing Palestinian territory. DEBKAfile’s military sources report two rival government administrations taking shape – Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority officials are being driven out; and Fatah on the West Bank - although Hamas controls some enclaves. Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, who is under sentence of death from the Hamas religious council, addressed a demonstration in the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday, Dec. 17, and called on all Palestinians to back the Abbas-Fatah cause against Hamas.
Palestinian security officers and public sector officials are reaching a point where they can no longer sit on the fence but must declare loyalty to one faction or the other. Many will be influenced in their choice by which of the two can pay their wages. Hamas’ exchequer is known to have been stuffed by at least quarter of a billion dollars – and maybe more on the way - deposited by Iran. DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources disclose that Abu Mazen is preparing to draw for the first time on the multibillion dollar Palestinian Development Fund, whose capital is invested in many parts of the world, for paying security officers and expanding Fatah’s grass-roots base.
DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that last week, US and Israel transferred a quantity of automatic rifles to Abu Mazen’s Fatah forces
The guns reached Dahlan who handed them over to the faction’s suicide wing, al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Abbas’ only reliable strike force. Dahlan is now in command of the armed campaign against Hamas from presidential headquarters in Ramallah. Israeli officials are turning a blind eye to transfer of the arms into the hands of the most badly-wanted masterminds of Fatah suicide killings, such as Jemal Tirawi from Nablus.