Ramallah, West Bank — The crisis of Rafah’s open border morphed into a four-way diplomatic power struggle this week that reinforced Hamas’ ascendance in the rivalry against President Mahmoud Abbas’ weaker Palestinian Authority.
A Palestinian Authority official said Abbas wants the Egyptians to help him deploy some 200 to 300 of his presidential guard forces along the border in order to uphold the Palestinian commitments under a U.S.-brokered agreement with Israel that’s supposed to keep the passages open.
Another historical marker for the Middle East on the eve of Annapolis: Nov. 29 marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations approval of a partition plan to divide the Jews and Arabs of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. How fitting, sadly enough, that this week also signals the umpteenth diplomatic attempt to resolve the same Arab-Israeli conflict.
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat ultimately will have little choice but to accept Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s request to delay Israel’s hand-over of West Bank territory, a prominent Palestinian analyst predicted this week.
But, warned Ghassan Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, “It will destroy the credibility, if any is left, of the Mideast peace process with the Palestinian public.”