Friday, December 24, 2010

WikiLeaks Fuels Hamas-Fatah Conflict

Mosaic Blog
WikiLeaks Fuels Hamas-Fatah Conflict
The documents released by WikiLeaks continue to be disseminated around the world, providing the public with an unprecedented glimpse into U.S. diplomacy. Some of the information cited in the documents was direct, open and damaging even if the U.S. continues to question the legitimacy of the leak.

WikiLeaksThe 250,000 U.S. Embassy diplomatic cables reveal communications between 274 embassies in countries around the world and the U.S. State Department, effectively impacting the entire world and the Middle East is no exception.

Many Arab state-run media outlets have been skeptical in their coverage of the cables. Some chose to focus on issues unrelated to their country while others opted to undermine the implications of the leak.

Tarek al-Homayad, editor-in-chief of al-Sharq al-Awsat, a leading Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily, portrayed the leaks as a crisis for America, but called into question the accuracy and relevance of the reports:  “We must take care that not everything written by the American embassies is fact. Some contain analysis and reporting while the rest merely express points of view, not actual policies.”

The documents prompted the two main Palestinian rivals, Hamas and Fatah, to exchange accusations and blame, especially in regard to the recognition of Israel.

Wasn’t recognizing Israel part of the negotiation process?  So why is it now a major issue? It seems that each faction is trying to undermine the other in a bid to rally public support and avoid accountability.

The next revelation, however, didn’t only come as a shock to Palestinians, but raised concern over the credibility of their leadership in Ramallah.  Among the documents was a claim by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Israel consulted Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) before launching its Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Barak is quoted in the cable saying both Egyptian and PA officials rejected offers to assume control of Gaza after Hamas’ defeat.

Would the PA have conspired with Israel had it known that more than 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians, would be killed in the three-month armed conflict? If this is the case, shouldn’t the PA be held accountable, along with Israel, and perhaps face war crimes charges?

This revelation, if accurate, does not only indict the PA. It seems that Egypt also played a conspirator role in the war on Hamas. In a meeting with U.S. General David Petraeus in the summer of 2009, Egyptian Security Chief Omar Suleiman complained that neither the ‘Hamas terrorist organization,’ nor Fatah really want to reconcile. Suleiman said his country cooperates with Israel in its effort to prevent ‘arms smuggling and money into Gaza.’

Egypt has been playing the role of mediator between Fatah and Hamas since the latter’s violent takeover of Gaza more than three years ago.

Nearly two months ago, the two Palestinian rivals agreed to take the required steps to end their division, share power and vowed to hold more talks before signing a final deal in Cairo.

Now with the WikiLeaks revelations, which raise questions about Cairo’s role as an honest peace broker, Hamas and Fatah may have to find another sponsor or it may be time for the Palestinians to assume responsibility and solve their own problems.

The 251,287 cables that have been published are filled with juicy gossip. The repercussions of the recent leaks on world diplomacy remain undetermined, but we can be certain the damage they caused Palestinian reconciliation is irreversible.

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