The rising tension in the Palestinian territories between Hamas and Fatah is giving hope to some Middle East observers. The notion is that if the Fatah "moderates" are finally ready to challenge the Hamas "extremists," then there's a possibility that Palestinians will embrace peace.
If only it were that simple.
First, despite the call for new elections by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, it isn't clear whether such a vote will take place. And it's far from certain that Abbas' Fatah faction would be able to defeat Hamas at the polls.
But an even greater uncertainty is whether or not the possible triumph of Fatah would be the first step toward peace with Israel.
Given the impossibility of dealing with a Hamas movement that is singularly dedicated to Israel's destruction and guided by the same Islamist principles that motivate similar terror groups around the world, the popularity of such an assumption is understandable. Compared to Hamas, Abbas does looks more presentable.
Nevertheless, should we be rooting for Fatah gunmen in the street battles raging in Gaza? Not exactly.
If the goal of Abbas was truly to create a state dedicated to peace and economic prosperity for his people, then it would certainly be in the interest of Israel and the United States to do whatever they could to help him -- or at least to hope for a Fatah triumph.
But before we get too excited about the possible outcome of all this, let's remember a couple of things.
First, Fatah and Abbas have a long history of unwillingness to make peace. In Abbas' single year in power before the Hamas election victory back in January, he did nothing to curb anti-Israel terror. Even today, he continues to be the godfather of Fatah's own terror outlet, and uses his media routinely to laud terrorism and incite hate.
Second, the battle between Hamas and Fatah is a naked struggle for power. The one thing they still have in common is hatred for Israel and the Jews. Their main difference has to with control of government patronage, not their fundamental lack of desire for peaceful co-existence with Israel.
Those who rejoice in Palestinian fratricide -- either because they foolishly believe this is the path to peace or because they relish the idea of a civil war -- are simply fooling themselves. The tragedy of Palestinian politics is a mainstream culture that embraces death, and which has never experienced the fruits of peace. Any notion that the current thuggery on display in the territories is a harbinger of progress is sheer fantasy.
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