US intelligence: Backing Abbas not the way to peace

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

US intelligence sources on Monday responded to President George W. Bush's Middle East policy speech by warning that throwing Washington's weight behind Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, while ignoring the popularly-elected Hamas terrorist organization will not bring peace to the region.

Bush's strategy of bending over backwards for Abbas is “the White House's biggest and potentially riskiest policy departure in its dealings with the Palestinian Authority since it was created in 1994,” wrote the Washington Post in a report citing intelligence reports that note Hamas still enjoys widespread support among the Palestinians.

The documents pointed out that Abbas has yet to prove he is able or willing to eliminate the terrorist threat against Israel, which is the Palestinian side's primary peace obligation.

Paul Pillar, a former Middle East analyst on the National Intelligence Council told the Post that the Bush administration is mistaken in its assumption that isolation and pressure will make Hamas go away. The group will survive and will continue to attack Israel until a central authority capable of stopping it arises.

In his address, Bush reaffirmed his commitment to helping birth a Palestinian Arab state on Israel's biblical heartland, and pledged nearly $200 million of US taxpayers' dollars to Abbas' new Hamas-less government. The president also announced his intention to convene in the coming months an international peace conference aimed at further bolstering Abbas with additional Israeli concessions.

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