Hamas heeft de machtstrijd met Fatah min of meer gewonnen, en domineert de nieuwe eenheidsregering. Hamas heeft nauwelijks toegegeven aan de eisen van zowel Abbas als het Kwartet, namelijk erkenning van Israël, afzweren van geweld en het eerbiedigen van de eerder door de PLO met Israël gesloten akkoorden. Toch lijkt het doel om de economische en diplomatieke boycot op te heffen, te gaan slagen, aangezien verschillende Europese landen al aan hebben gegeven met de nieuwe regering zaken te willen doen. Ondertussen voltrekt zich in stilte een belangrijke en zorgelijke verandering in de Palestijnse gebieden:
"Hamas reaches the hearts of the people, and one of the best ways to do this has always been through the mosques. In 2000, there were 100 of them in Ramallah; today there are 190. Without laws to limit it, Hamas has managed to lead a cultural change in Palestinian society. Most women in the territories wear head coverings, including some who do so to avoid public criticism. Fewer restaurants sell alcohol and halls for weddings and other festivities are being asked not to host belly-dancers."
The unity gov't may be the last nail in Fatah's coffin
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent - Mon., March 19, 2007
The celebrations in Ramallah and Gaza on Saturday of the Palestinian Authority unity government could all too quickly turn into a burial ceremony for Fatah.
The movement over the past year presented itself as a clear political alternative to Hamas. Now it has become Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's closest ally. Senior Fatah officials opposed to the move worry the organization will thus be identified with failures in the economy, internal security and in creating a political horizon.
The limited protests from senior Fatah figures against Hamas policy will peter out and with them the chances to constitute a real political and cultural competition to the Islamists.
Both Haniyeh and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were all smiles on Saturday, but Haniyeh and his Hamas associates particularly had reason to be pleased. Following tough negotiations, Hamas has a majority in the cabinet after Fatah agreed to consider Foreign Minister Ziyad Abu Amar as one of the independent ministers representing it.
The idea of holding elections was rejected, and a crack has appeared in the diplomatic siege of Hamas, while the organization has not changed its ideology: no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it (Abbas will do the dirty work) and "the resistance" in other words, violence will go on.
However, the option of Palestinian unity and damage to Fatah was the lesser of two evils. The other possibility for Abbas was civil war. The problem is that until the next elections for president (in less than two years) the Palestinian public will forget that Abbas overcame lesser political considerations and remember primarily that Fatah is not functioning. The movement's reforms of bringing in younger leaders was not enough. Most of the 72,0000 registered members of Fatah know today there is no alternative to Hamas, say young Tanzim leaders in the West Bank.
The sixth party convention has become a stale joke; there seems little chance it will ever be held. The party is in economic crisis, and attempts by senior Fatah officials to impact voters through a social safety net pale in comparison to Hamas' social services network. Corruption in PA institutions and the chaos on the streets are identified with Fatah and its security forces. Above all, the feeling is widespread that no one is in charge in Fatah.
Meanwhile, Hamas is continuing its quiet revolution. Recently 11 Hamas members were appointed to senior posts in the PA Education Ministry, and the number of hours of religious studies has been increased by about 20 percent.
Hamas reaches the hearts of the people, and one of the best ways to do this has always been through the mosques. In 2000, there were 100 of them in Ramallah; today there are 190. Without laws to limit it, Hamas has managed to lead a cultural change in Palestinian society. Most women in the territories wear head coverings, including some who do so to avoid public criticism. Fewer restaurants sell alcohol and halls for weddings and other festivities are being asked not to host belly-dancers.
Hamas leaders are sounding sure of themselves these days, while working unceasingly to gain new members, and Fatah carries on with its internal struggles.