In the Middle East, New Strategies or More of the Same?

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced today that the US today will lift the embargo placed on the Palestinian Authority when Hamas won parliamentary elections 18 months ago.  Also today, the European Union said it will resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority now that Hamas is out of the government.  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who will meet tomorrow in Washington with President Bush, has indicated that Israel might turn over tax money it's been withholding.  It's all about bolstering the secular Fatah faction in the West Bank and isolating Islamic Hamas after last week's military takeover of Gaza. Since Hamas took control of Gaza, Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has formed a new government, excluding the radical Islamic group.  What are the benefits and risks of further dividing the Palestinian people? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Hamas and Fatah, and what's at stake for the region as a whole? 




Warren Olney