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Talks resume as Hamas rebuilds popularity and weapons

Shuttle diplomacy amid a Hamas buildup in the West Bank leaves Israel wary.

Part of Abbas’ accusation against Hamas is that its leadership is allowing radical young military leaders to blow off steam by plotting a West Bank armed takeover. In return, those military leaders aren’t pushing as hard for rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza.

The Hamas leaders in Gaza are keen to avoid such attacks, because they’re barely recovering from the hammering they received a year and a half ago at the hands of the Israeli army. The cause of that war, remember, was rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.

Hamas kicked Fatah out of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Fatah people were shot and tortured, and a few were tossed from tall buildings. Since then, both sides have engaged in a low-flame civil war which involves lengthy detentions without trial, torture and kneecappings.

The West Bank looks like an attractive playground into which Hamas can shove its angrier military types. After all, if the Fatah cops fail to intercept a Hamas attack against Israelis in or from the West Bank, Israel usually blames Fatah rather than Hamas.

Within the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, there has been an increase in support for more militant action — yes, more militant than the leadership which ultimately wants to eradicate Israel but is prepared to wait a long time to do so.

Those military leaders have turned, according to international analysts, to a brand of Islam more commonly called “Salafi.” In short, it’s the extreme Islam favored by many in the Gulf States. It’s quite alien to most Palestinians, who are conservative but not particularly fundamentalist in their religion. Still, once a military type gets stirred up, the hard line often looks appealing.

Abbas better hope he hasn’t leaned too hard on Fayyad. The week of grace his prime minister’s reforms will have bought him in the event of an attempted coup by Hamas might prove to be the difference between a nice retirement at his house in Dubai and the kind of kangaroo justice meted out by the Islamist in Gaza three years ago.