Palestinian Internal Struggle: Strategic Implications

As fighting continues between Fatah and Hamas, the Reut Institute identifies a number of strategic issues systemically related to the Palestinian internal struggle.
As clashes between Fatah and Hamas continue, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ordered the deployment of more than 20,000 Fatah security forces throughout the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Hamas announced its intention to begin deploying its security forces in the West Bank as well.

The Reut Institute identifies a number of issues systemically related to the increasing struggle between Fatah and Hamas that have strategic implications for Israel:

  • Crisis of Palestinian representation - The severe crisis within the Palestinian political movement poses Israel with the problem of not having one viable Palestinian address with whom to deal with. It challenges Israel's ability to decide "who to talk to?" and "who to shoot at?" (see: Severe Crisis of Palestinian Representation)

  • International involvement - Currently the international community plays an active role in providing aid and services to the Palestinians. Continued escalation, or civil war, is liable to affect the willingness and ability of the international actors to maintain their involvement. (see: International Aid to the Palestinian Authority).

  • Israeli responsibility - Israel is considered the occupier in Gaza and the West Bank. The internal struggle weakens the effective control of the already paralyzed PA, and may lead to the reinstatement of Israel's responsibility over the Palestinian population. (see: From Civil War to Renewed Occupation).

  • Erosion of the de-militarization principle - The influx of weapons in the Palestinian territories, smuggled in through Egypt and supplied to Fatah by the US in order to prepare for the continued struggle, seriously erodes the principle of Palestinian de-militarization. (see: A Militarized Palestinian State).

  • Division between the West Bank and Gaza - Although existing agreements recognize Gaza and the West Bank as a "single territorial unit", social, economic and political gaps have emerged following Disengagement. While Gaza is considered to be a Hamas stronghold, the West Bank is predominantly controlled by Fatah. A civil war may lead to a split between the two territories.

Sources

  • Harel and Issacharoff, Ha'aretz, 10/24/06; full text.
  • Al-Hayat, 10/22/06.