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Saturday, January 28, 2006

 

WaPo: Defeated Fatah loyalists protest as West threatens aid cuts - Jan. 28

By Scott Wilson, Washington Post Foreign Service -- Saturday, Page A01 (excerpt)

JERUSALEM -- Several thousand young Palestinian Fatah Party activists, angry over the party's trouncing in the first parliamentary elections in a decade, took to the streets of Gaza City to demand Fatah Party leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's resignation. The men passed Abbas's Gaza residence, though he is currently in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and continued to the parliament building, where they stormed the lobby, smashed windows and set fire to several cars in a protest lasting hours.

A protester holds a Fatah badge and a Palestinian flag next to a burning car inside the courtyard of the parliament building in Gaza City. Thousands of young activists protested the party's poor showing in Wednesday's elections.A protester, left, holds a Fatah badge and a Palestinian flag next to a burning car inside the courtyard of the parliament building in Gaza City. Thousands of young activists protested the party's poor showing in Wednesday's elections.

Fatah's electoral defeat, which ended nearly four decades of dominance, has focused criticism on Abbas's leadership, corruption in his government and the largely fruitless peace program he has pursued with Israel. A member of Fatah's founding generation, Abbas is now facing a growing rebellion from the party's younger ranks even as he remains president of the Palestinian Authority, with broad powers to set policy and manage the security services.

Mohammed Dahlan, one of only 43 Fatah candidates to win a place in the 132-seat legislature, calmed the demonstrators, some of them armed, with a pledge that the party's leadership would change. Later, in the city of Khan Younis, gunmen traded fire after Fatah activists tore down Hamas campaign banners. A Hamas supporter and a member of the Palestinian security services were wounded.

Fatah had dominated the parliament since its establishment a decade ago, and its members still fill out the senior ranks of the Palestinian Authority. But it is now being forced to cede a large portion of its power to Hamas, whose presence in the Palestinian government could undermine the authority's lifeblood foreign aid, most of which comes from the United States and Europe.

BushPresident Bush, right, said Friday that the United States would cut aid to the Palestinian government unless Hamas abolished the militant arm of its party and stopped calling for the destruction of Israel. "And if they don't, we won't deal with them," Bush said in an interview aired on "CBS Evening News." "The aid packages won't go forward. That's their decision to make, but we won't be providing help to a government that wants to destroy our ally and friend."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would raise the issue of funding the Palestinian Authority at a meeting in London on Monday with representatives of Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

The announcement coincided with an Israeli diplomatic effort to persuade foreign governments to isolate Hamas's new elected leadership.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi livniIsrael's acting foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, left, who called several European counterparts Friday, told reporters that she urged them to send a message that "elections are not a whitewash for terror." She said she told them that "Hamas cannot be a partner of Israel," and that the Palestinian Authority, if led by the group, "also cannot be a partner."

Full Washington Post story, "Abbas Calls for Hamas Cabinet - Fatah Youth Demand Leader's Resignation."

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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