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Analysis: A Three State Solution?

Council on Foreign Relations

June 18, 2007
Prepared by: Michael Moran

With the Hamas rout of Fatah on the Gaza Strip last week, the land claimed by Palestinians now falls under the sway of three separate entities, leading to new problems and talk of at least some new opportunities. Fatah, the old guard of Yasir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization led by President Mahmoud Abbas, has consolidated its hold on the West Bank and set up a new government bereft of the Islamists of Hamas (ArabNews). Meanwhile, Hamas claims all legitimacy flows from the January 2006 elections it won handily, and insists its man, Ismail Haniyeh, remains prime minister. And so a new complication is added to the puzzle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma known as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The standoff between Hamas and Fatah dates back decades, of course, but the geographical clarity provided by the Hamas purge is new. Already, U.S. and EU officials say they will restore hundreds of millions (TIME) of aid money in support of Abbas' faction, which had been suspended during the long, dysfunctional coalition with Hamas. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says millions in back taxes collected on Palestinian trade by Israel also likely will be given to the Fatah-backed government (Ynet) in Ramallah. The Arab League, too, said it regarded Abbas' decision as legitimate (Al-Jazeera).

When the celebratory gunfire dies down in Gaza, meanwhile, Hamas and the 1.4 million Palestinians now in its charge will find themselves more isolated than ever, and more vulnerable to the fact that fuel, water, and trade is dependent on the largesse of their enemy, Israel. Another, perhaps unintended result, says Zaki Chehab of Al Hayat, is that Hamas “will have to become responsible (PostGlobal) for the activities of all its members.”

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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