A senior Palestinian official isn't optimistic about Mahmoud Abbas' ability to hold off Hamas in the West Bank as reported by the UK Telegraph:
"Mr Abbas's leadership is not strong enough to stand up to the armed factions here in the West Bank,'' Mr Nasrallah said in his home town of Nablus.
"He is also not strong enough to stand up to the Israelis or to win the confidence of the Palestinian people that Israel will end its occupation and remove the reason for the armed factions to exist. So we have more chaos here, more criminality and more lawlessness - just as there was in Gaza before Hamas took over.
"Unless the security situation improves there is a chance that what happened in Gaza could happen here too.''
This story isn't getting any play in the US media at all which has been studiously following the administration's lead in reporting on the situation in the Palestinian territories. The Jerusalem Post is also reporting on Hamas' rising power in the West Bank:
The Palestinian Authority security forces have failed to thwart Hamas's efforts to create new armed cells in the West Bank, a senior PA security official here said Sunday.
Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, had become "very active" in some parts of the West Bank despite a crackdown order by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas against the group, he told The Jerusalem Post.
The security official in Ramallah said Hamas gunmen were working in coordination with other armed groups in the West Bank, including ones belonging to Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad.
"We are very worried about what's happening in the West Bank, especially in Nablus, where Izzadin Kassam appears to have resumed its activities after a long lull," the official said. "In recent weeks the group has been launching almost daily attacks on Israeli military patrols... particularly in the northern West Bank."
The writing is on the wall and I am going to venture out on a limb here and call the winner of the coming Hamas-Fatah showdown in the West Bank: Hamas hands down.
Why? They are better organized, more dedicated, highly motivated and their leadership is both shrewder and smarter than Fatah. Hamas' fighters are more skilled, better trained and much have much better command and control in battle. Hamas also enjoys widespread support of the Palestinian people who voted them into power.
Fatah, on the other hand, is a listless and demoralized organization after its stunning defeat in Gaza earlier this year. Its fighters are undoubtedly disaffected from the leadership that fled the battle in Gaza for the safety of Egypt during Hamas' successful rebellion. Fatah fighters lack the motivation and fighting spirit of Hamas and their leadership is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.
The efforts by the United States, European Union, Fatah and Israel to strangle the citizenry of Gaza as a means of dethroning Hamas will all come to naught. In fact, open American and Israeli support for Fatah is sealing its doom. The coming battle in the West Bank will be vicious and bloody and the retribution against Fatah "collaborators" with the "Jews and infidels" will be severe.
The only thing we could possibly do to forestall this outcome is to encourage Fatah to negotiate with Hamas and return to a power-sharing arrangement. But that is clearly out of the question for the Bush administration. Instead, we are sending weapons to Fatah; weapons that will ultimately end up in Hamas' hands when they takeover the West Bank.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!