Wednesday, February 15, 2006


HAARETZ, ISRAEL - Hamas derided the U.S. and Israel on Tuesday following reports they were exploring ways to topple the militants' incoming government. Israeli security officials said they were looking at ways to force Hamas from power, and were focusing on an economic squeeze that would prompt Palestinians to clamor for the return of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ousted Fatah Party. The New York Times, citing anonymous U.S. and Israeli officials, reported Tuesday that United States and Israel were considering a campaign to starve the Palestinian Authority of cash so Palestinians would grow disillusioned with Hamas and bring down a Hamas government. . .

Since Hamas' electoral victory, the West has been threatening to cut nearly $1 billion in annual aid to the Palestinians, though Russia's recent invitation to Hamas to visit Moscow, and France's support for the Russian approach, have cracked the united front. Israel has also threatened to cut off monthly transfers to the Palestinians of about $50 million (-40 million) from taxes and customs it collects for them, once Hamas takes power. . .

The strategy of bringing Palestinians to their knees by cutting off cash could easily backfire, however, with Palestinians blaming the U.S. and Israel - not Hamas - for their growing misery. Morever, Hamas would certainly turn to the Muslim world and private donors to try to make up at least some of the Western shortfall.

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