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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another


Is anarchy civil war?

As night falls, the roads empty and armed gangs are free to impose their rule of law through the barrel of an AK-47.

Nablus, the largest city in the northern West Bank, represents an extreme illustration of the anarchy which has taken hold in the Palestinian territories - a situation which, according to analysts, could well descend into civil war when veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat finally departs the scene.

Struggles between different factions of Arafat's Fatah movement are thought to be behind the assassination earlier this week of the Palestinian journalist Khalil al-Ziban, who also served as an advisor to Arafat, as well as a raft of other violent crimes in the territories.
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At a certain point the weakness of the Palestinian Authority will be sufficient to allow the gunmen to take over. Arguably that point has been reached in Nablus and in Gaza.

Does the Troll of Ramallah's writ run past the walls of his compound? Officially every faction, from Hamas though Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad are unwilling to acknowledge the end of the Troll's rule. Unofficially, they are lining up to seize the pathetic streets of the West Bank and Gaza.

The end of the Troll is being measured out a kilometer at a time as the security wall reduces the ability of the terrorists to strike against Israel and demonstrates that Israel has had more than enough of the ineffectual Palestinian Authority's refusal to actually take on the gunmen who are responsible for that terror. The Troll has simply ceased to be a player in any negotiation with Israel.

The question now is whether the assorted zealots with their AK47s and bomb belts will, in fact, seize control of the West Bank and Gaza. If they do, the Palestinians will cease to matter. No one will blame Israel for refusing to negotiate with people who are absolutely dedicated to her destruction.

The first round of the civil war is being played out in Gaza. Here Hamas has become the dominant political entity. The question being whether the Troll's Fatah can still exercise its alleged authority.
Mohammed Dahalan, the Fatah former interior minister, who still commands thousands of security forces in the Strip, signaled last week in the Al Ayyam newspaper that as far as he is concerned, Fatah will call the shots after Israel's withdrawal. "We have to view Hamas as a partner in the political future but to achieve that, Hamas must also know that the Authority has the right to take the decisions. Unfortunately, the Authority has lost some of its standing and Hamas is exploiting this and trying to impose an alternative authority."
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An alternative authority is a polite way of announcing a rival civil government and with it the potential for a full scale civil war.

Gaza is the most heavily Hamas dominated section of the Palestinian Authority. The situation in the West Bank is closer to anarchy than civil war, but as the mayor of Nablus, and prominent member of Fatah, resigns and Bethlehem is turned into a fertile suicide bomber recruiting ground, the potential for civil war there grows as well.

Is there an alternative to the gunmen? At the moment none seems obvious. There does not seem to be a moderate Palestinian political force. Nor is it obvious how such a force could come into being so long as the zealots hold the streets. It would take a very brave man to speak out against the terrorists and an even braver one to do so before the carnage of the pending civil war.