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The planned agreement goes some way toward validating Hamas control of the Gaza Strip.
That would probably mean government workers in Gaza would go back to their desks, working under Hamas rule — something the U.S., which along with the European Union pays much of their salaries, opposes.
The agreement calls for “a culture of tolerance, affection and reconciliation.” Before signing the deal, Abbas slipped in some less than affectionate rhetoric about Hamas Tuesday in Jenin. He called Hamas’s Gaza Strip an “Emirate of Darkness.”
The newly decreed tolerance doesn’t seem to extend to Israel either. Resistance to Israel’s occupation must be respected by Palestinian security forces, the document says.
That won’t sit well with General Keith Dayton, the U.S. adviser who has transformed the Palestinian security forces over the last year. Israeli military chiefs acknowledge that cooperation with Palestinian troops has never been better and have consequently removed a number of checkpoints on key West Bank arteries. The proposed agreement appears to turn back the clock to the days of Yasser Arafat’s regime in the 1990s, when senior Palestinian security officials were never quite sure if they were supposed to arrest militants — to protect the peace agreement with Israel — or let them engage in valid “resistance” against Israeli targets. Under such circumstances, Israel’s newfound confidence in the Palestinian security forces would be dented and Dayton’s good work would be set back.
U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell reportedly communicated Washington’s opposition to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman over the weekend, according to reports in the Israeli media. The U.S. Embassy was not available for comment on this issue.
However, analysts here concur that the U.S. wouldn’t be likely to oppose all elements of the agreement. In particular the proposals for the elections next year favor Fatah. The number of parliamentary seats selected by proportional representation is to be increased. In the 2006 elections, Hamas won largely because it did well in seats selected by district.
That’s not going to be enough to get Mitchell to buy it. But it may already be too late for him to stop it.