Hamas-Fatah Unity vs. U.S. Policy

“You personally instructed to kill Muslims. You should know that soon you’ll hang together with Bush Junior.”

Those words were directed at President Obama by a Palestinian imam in reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden (article and video here). The imam spoke from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem -- that is, under the aegis of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, not of Hamas-run Gaza. Or as he put it:

The western dogs are rejoicing after killing one of our Islamic lions. From Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the future caliphate will originate with the help of God, we say to them -- the dogs will not rejoice too much for killing the lions. The dogs will remain dogs and the lion, even if he is dead, will remain a lion.

Earlier, when Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had reacted to bin Laden’s death by slamming “the American policy” and “the killing of an Arab holy warrior,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner had called the remarks “outrageous.” Yet, again, the Fatah-good-guys/Hamas-bad-guys dichotomy won’t hold. On Tuesday, a day after Haniyeh’s condemnation, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade released its own statement.

The Martyrs' Brigade is the military wing of Fatah, directly subordinate to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. It declared:

The Islamic nation awoke to a catastrophe—the reports of the Shahid [Martyr] death of the Sheikh, Jihad-fighter Osama bin Laden, in a treacherous manner, by the gangs of the heretics….We say to the American and Israeli occupier: the [Islamic] nation…is a nation that is capable of supplying an abundance of new blood into the arteries of the resistance and is capable of restoring the glory of Islam and the flag of Allah’s oneness, Allah willing.

Even though Fatah is supposed to be the “secular, moderate” good guy, the recipient of American largess and military training, the peace partner of Israel, it is hard to see any ideological difference between the Martyrs' Brigade statement and those of the imam or Haniyeh. Yet, predictably, the words of the Martyrs' Brigade did not elicit a peep from Washington. For if the myth of “moderate” Fatah falls, where is the “peace process,” and where is a U.S. policy built on illusion?