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      Israel Seeks to Restore Fatah to Gaza - Via Pocketbook

      Fear that Israel might restore Gaza to Fatah-control militarily, is replaced by fear that Israel might restore Gaza to Fatah-control financially.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 1/21/2009, 1:29 PM

      Those who feared that Israel might be trying to restore Gaza to Fatah control militarily, now fear that Israel might be trying to restore Gaza to Fatah control financially.

      A “senior security source” in Jerusalem told correspondent Haggai Huberman that Israel is anxious to have the funding for the rehabilitation of Gaza funneled through the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, and not via Hamas. The reason: “In order to restore Mahmoud Abbas to power via the back door.”

      The question of whether Hamas or Fatah will rebuild Gaza is on the table between Israel and the countries of the European Union, which have promised to help pay the expenses of war-ravaged Hamas-run Gaza.  Israeli diplomats, anxious to see a “partner” running Gaza, explain as follows:

      “Abu Mazen [Abbas] does not have a military force strong enough to face Hamas, even when Hamas is the weakest and most humiliated it’s ever been.  Restoring him to power via an Israeli victory would have de-legitimized his regime. The only way to enable the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria to regain power in Gaza is for it to rehabilitate Gaza, which suffered tremendous damage during the 22 days of warfare.  This is why Israel is trying to have the international monies for Gaza funneled through the PA and not Hamas.”

      “It’s better to have the Gazans receive the money from Abu Mazen and not from Iran,” the source said.

      HaEtzni was Wrong – and Right
      During the war, former MK Attorney Elyakim HaEtzni of Kiryat Arba warned that Israel and the international community were hoping to see Hamas destroyed so that a Fatah–run state could be established on its ruins.  He said the goal is to fulfill the principles of the Road Map and the Annapolis Summit by carving out a piece of the historic Jewish homeland for a state for ‘moderate’ Palestinians. “But as long as Gaza is controlled by ‘extremists,’” HaEtzni wrote, “such a state cannot be established. This is why Olmert, Livni and the others want to destroy Hamas – even though they deny it…”

      Whether this was their goal or not, in fact it was not achieved.  HaEtzni explains, however, that both Hamas and Fatah have the same goal – the destruction of Israel: “They are different only in their tactics. Fatah believes in our liquidation via peaceful means, and is therefore considered ‘moderate,’ while Hamas likes its liquidations dripping with blood, and so is considered ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist.’”

      The Tag: $2 Billion
      The cost of rebuilding Gaza has been roughly estimated at two billion dollars.  Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has already offered to pay half this sum.  He made the offer during this week’s Arab summit in Kuwait.

      Israel is supported by Egypt in its bid to strengthen Fatah at the expense of Hamas, and have Fatah distribute the money. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has already declared that he would not allow Iranian or Syrian money to pass through his country to Gaza. 

      The European Commissioner for External Relations and the European Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, announced on Tuesday that the European Union would not give money for rebuilding infrastructures in Gaza as long as Hamas still rules the region.  She said that money would be given for humanitarian aid, however.

      Gazans Commandeer Aid Convoy
      In a related item, Jordan reported that armed Arabs in Gaza had commandeered a Jordanian aid convoy on Monday and forced it to head to their own warehouses.  The number of trucks in the convoy was not reported.  The trucks arrived in Gaza at the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, and was headed for UNRWA warehouses – but armed men opened fire at the drivers and hijacked them to a different destination. UNRWA later asked the Jordanian transport company not to send additional aid convoys until the issue of the seized convoy is resolved.