Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hamas Facing Tests at Home and Abroad

'JERUSALEM (AP) - Isolated by world criticism and strapped for cash, the Islamic militant group Hamas faces an uphill struggle to even begin cleaning up Palestinian government as it has promised to do.

Internally, the old Fatah rulers vanquished by Hamas in last week's parliamentary election are refusing to cooperate with the new guard, almost openly hoping for their failure.

International donors, who have annually made up a huge shortfall in the perpetually strapped Palestinian Authority, are balking at funding a Hamas regime.

Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Sunday that Israel will stop the monthly transfer of tens of millions of dollars in taxes and customs money it collects for the Palestinians to a Palestinian Authority headed by Hamas.

Fatah leaders are expressing defiance instead of shock over their loss, after winning just 45 seats in the 132-seat parliament, while Hamas took 74. The vote ended four decades of Fatah control over Palestinian politics.

"We will not allow ... anyone to take part in a government with Hamas," said Sufian Abu Zaydeh, an outgoing Fatah Cabinet minister. He made it clear in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV that Fatah is hoping Hamas falls flat in its mission of governing in its first-ever try."
It would be funny if Hammas is able to operate the Palestine Authority on a shoestring and were to discover that what was keeping their people down was not all the Zionist entity after all, but was in fact the deep level of corruption in the Authority that kept them poor.


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