Corporate media erase U.S. role in Hamas-Fatah split

In response to the youth of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank rising up on March 14 and 15 to call for Palestinian political unity, both the leaders of Fatah and Hamas pledged to enter into talks aimed at reconciliation. Most recently, President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah “met with senior Hamas officials to discuss a proposed trip to Gaza and efforts to mend internal Palestinian division by forming a unity government,” the Ma’an News Agency reported.

With those talks came a spate of articles in the U.S. corporate media about the efforts at reconciliation. But in providing background on why these talks are happening, and the roots of the split between Hamas and Fatah, media outlets have deleted the crucial role the U.S. played in fomenting that split.

The New York Times explained that:

[Abbas had] not set foot in Gaza in the four years since a brief, bloody civil war there sent him and his Fatah colleagues fleeing to the West Bank…Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in early 2006, and, for a brief time, Fatah and Hamas had a national unity government. But tensions between them led to the fighting and a break in communications.

TIME magazine’s Karl Vick similarly put it this way:

Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah party that governs the West Bank, has accepted an invitation from rival Hamas to travel to the Gaza Strip. The visit would be the first since Hamas drove Fatah operatives out of Gaza in 2007 — throwing some off from the tops of buildings — in the turmoil that followed Hamas’ surprise victory in elections months earlier.

All of these accounts don’t mention where the “turmoil” and the breakup of the short-lived national unity government between Hamas and Fatah following the 2006 elections came from. The 2008 expose of the Bush administration’s role in the split by David Rose in Vanity Fair remains essential reading for those wanting to understand the roots of the split.

Some crucial excerpts:

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza…

Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.

Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says…

Without this back story, why there is a bitter Hamas-Fatah split remains obscured. The least the U.S. media could do is provide a sentence explaining these facts.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Beyondoweiss, Gaza, Israel/Palestine, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

{ 24 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Kathleen says:

    And the corporate media continued their charade and continued “groupthink” on Sunday so called news programs. As they(many Iraq warmongers) discussed the military intervention the “why Libya” and “why not Syria” issue came up and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia were whispered about but of course “why no fly, drive zone” over Israel never comes up. Why no UN/US coalition to stop Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and E Jerusalem. Why no UN/US coalition military intervention when a “slaughter” of Palestinians was taking place in the Gaza in late 2008 early 2009?

    Gloria Borger was the very worst talking head on Sunday. She was in for Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS. She lead the guest right down the path to what she referred to as the “300 pound gorilla in the room” Iran . She led the guest right to where the I lobby and Israel want the U.S. and the international coalition to go ASAP….Iran.

    Not a whisper on any Sunday news program about the REAL 300 pound gorilla on these news programs. The critical issue that they NEVER EVER even whisper about. Israel. And their continued refusal to co-operate with and abide by UN resolutions and international agreements. Their continued defiance and expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and E Jerusalem.

  2. The effort for unity and then peace is much more important.

    300 lb gorilla is a good metaphor, one that in ALL international relations, and is now expected to be involved in all international relations, must do so precisely and sensitively as well as boldly and bluntly at the same time, somehow.

    • Donald says:

      English, Richard. It’s what everyone else speaks here and if you want to communicate you’ll have to learn the language. In all honesty I can’t either agree or disagree with your statement (or do a little of both), because it needs to be translated.

      • James North says:

        There are visitors to Mondoweiss for whom English is their second or third language who write more clearly than Richard does. If he took more time and commented less (5286 comments in 2010), we might be able to understand him better.

        • Avi says:

          James North March 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm

          There are visitors to Mondoweiss for whom English is their second or third language who write more clearly than Richard does.


          That’s setting the bar a little too……ummm (what’s the word I’m looking for?) …….


        • pjdude says:

          Witty is the proof for the George Carlin joke that language is a tool used to conceal the truth

        • Mooser says:

          “who write more clearly than Richard does.”

          To write clearly, you have to think clearly. Are you ready to subject an old man like Witty to torture like that?

        • RoHa says:

          Poo! I’m older than Witty and I think pretty clearly most of the time.

          Of course, I’ve been practicing it since I was young, and I’m unusually brilliant anyway.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          You’re only as old as you act, RoHa. Witty acts like a white Southern segregationist.

        • James North says:

          In all seriousness, Mooser is on to something; Richard comments poorly because he thinks poorly. Richard is clearly an intelligent man, and I think on many subjects, environmentalism for instance, he can probably communicate well.
          But get him started on Israel/Palestine, and his zeal to hide from his own conscience takes over. Like a squid squirting out ink, he lets loose a jumble of words that make little or no sense.
          I contend that if he paused to think, he would have to recognize that Israel 2011 is nothing like the “kibbutzes that are making the empty desert bloom” that he once imagined. So he squirts out more words, in any order, as long as they include motherhood statements like “peace,” “reconciliation,” “self-governing.”

      • Mooser says:

        Oh, that’s nothing Donald! You ought to see the way he uses quote marks. He puts quote marks around words of his own and claims someone else said them. Does this all the time.
        He simply doesn’t know what honesty is. And combined with the broken syntax, it’s quite a show.

        • DBG says:

          9/21 comments on this thread are ad-hominem attacks against Witty. Why doesn’t Phil just disable the comment section, this is ridiculous.

          Friends like this, huh RW?

  3. lysias says:

    Paul McGeough’s Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas is very good on the U.S. role in getting the PA to try to purge Hamas.

  4. lysias says:

    I hate to think of how many times I’ve heard people on NPR refer to an alleged Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007.

  5. Potsherd2 says:

    It’ll be harder to ignore it now.
    link to

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is making a heavy push for reconciliation with Hamas and is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if that’s what it takes to forge a Palestinian unity deal, his adviser said on Monday.

    “The Palestinians need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid,” aide Azzam Ahmad said.

  6. CTuttle says:

    What about Bibi’s active role…?

    Israel to Cut PA Ties Over Hamas

    Israel will stop dealing with the Palestinian Authority if it brings Hamas into the government, a senior government official said Saturday night, a few hours after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah with a senior Hamas delegation for conciliation talks.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      “Stop dealing with the Palestinian Authority?” Really, and what is Netanyahu threatening to do? Accellerate the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank? Strip search Palestinian schoolchildren? Prevent pregnant mothers from crossing checkpoints to give birth at a hospital? Build a wall? Arrest Palestinian parliamentarians?

      Seriously. The only threat Netanyahu has left outright bloodshed. The only thing he’s not doing to the West Bank, are the scale of atrocities that have been done to Gaza.

    • Potsherd2 says:

      BYahoo demands that Abbas choose between Hamas and Israel. And the “peace process.”

      What a joker!

    • eljay says:

      >> Israel to Cut PA Ties Over Hamas

      Just another example of Israel’s insincerity when it comes to being a “partner for peace”.

  7. lysias says:

    Off topic — but I don’t know where else to put this — David Remnick’s New Yorker piece on Ha’aretz from last month, THE DISSENTERS: Haaretz prides itself on being the conscience of Israel. Does it have a future?, is well worth a read.