Hamas won the jackpot

Unity agreement signed in Mecca marks a major victory for Khaled Mashaal
and Ismail Haniyeh Ronny Shaked

The unity agreement signed in Mecca last Thursday marked a major victory
for Hamas. Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh could not have hoped for
a greater achievement.

Even amid the pressure exerted by the Suadi king, Hamas would not
waver and came out stronger as far as the internal Palestinian arena
is concerned, and much stronger in the eyes of the Arab world and the
international community.

Hamas did not relinquish its rule or ideology, did not recognize Israel
or renounce terror and did not agree to acknowledge past agreements
with Israel. In return for this inflexible stance it received the unity
government that it wanted so much.

Rejection Israel snubs Mecca deal / Attila Somfalvi In first official
statement, officials in Jerusalem say Hamas-Fatah deal fails to meet
Quartet preconditions and is not what Israel expected. Israel does not
outright reject the agreement and will continue to monitor developments,
officials add Full story Hamas sought a unity government to promote the
lifting of the economic and political siege imposed on the Palestinians
by the international communitys and end the infighting.

The organization wanted Fatahs participation in the new government so as
not to bear sole responsibility for the economic, social and political
failures in the Authority and to gain the legitimacy to remain in power
and continue instilling fundamental values in Palestinian society.

In Mecca Hamas won the jackpot. The agreement, along with millions of
dollars from the Saudi king, will help Hamas recover from its economic
crisis, strengthen its hold on government and arrive at the next elections
in a position to win the presidency as well as the elections for the
Legislative Council.

Nothing to lose And what if the unity government collapses? Hamas still
has nothing to lose. If the bogus partnership should fall apart - and
this may happen rather quickly the blame will fall on Fatah and Mahmoud
Abbas, not only in the PA but in the entire Arab world as well.

Meccas sanctity, coupled with Saudi kings efforts, was not enough
to bridge the gap between Islamist Hamas and the nationalist Fatah
organization. It was Abbas who eventually backed down when he agreed to
establish a unity government before drafting its guidelines.

Abbas' body language on Thursday testified to the disagreements and to
the fact that he understands that the Saudis and Hamas have trapped him.

The important question as far as Israel is concerned is whether the
agreement would accelerate Gilad Shalit's return home. Abbas demanded his
release as a condition, but it appears that as long as the government is
not established, Hamas will continue to take advantage of Gilad Shalit
as a bargaining chip in its battle against Fatah.

If the international community recognizes the new government and this
might definitely happen in light of the cracks in the Quartet's stance
Israel could find itself isolated in the face of the stance demanding
that it negotiates with the Hamas-led government.

Expressions of unity and joy and an end to the street battles are
expected in the Palestinian street in the coming days. But one must not
be mistaken. The ideological differences have remained deep and wide as
they were, and it is only a question of time before the clashes erupt
once again. And have no illusions, even a unity government will not
bring an end to terror and the launching of Qassam rockets.