Saturday, October 07, 2006

Palestinians teeter on edge of civil war

Middle East: Can't have two alpha males in the yard, one has got to go.

A BLUNT warning that the West Bank and Gaza are on the brink of civil war was issued this weekend by the head of Palestinian intelligence. Brigadier-General Tawfik Tirawi predicted a bloody clash between Hamas, the Islamist movement headed by Ismail Haniyah, the Palestinian prime minister, and Fatah, its secular rival led by President Mahmoud Abbas. “We are already at the beginning of a civil war, no doubt about it. They (Hamas) are accumulating weapons and a full-scale civil war can break out at any moment,” said Tirawi. Abbas’s attempts to form a coalition between the two Palestinian groups collapsed last week after he insisted Hamas must recognise Israel and give up violence. Abbas believes recognising Israel is the only way to secure the release of millions of pounds of European Union and US aid frozen since Hamas won elections in January. Tirawi believes Hamas will never accept the existence of Israel and said a violent showdown was inevitable. “No way can they agree. They are preparing for a war against us,” he said. Last week 12 people were killed as fighting between the two groups escalated. According to Palestinian sources, Abbas has notified the US, Jordan and Egypt that he is preparing to take action against Hamas. Egypt has already indicated it would support him, the sources claim.

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