The 'West Bank First' Strategy: A Political-Economy Critical AssessmentReleased on October 19, 2007
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The 'West Bank First' Strategy: A Political-Economy Critical Assessment
By Dr. Mohammed Samhouri, a Palestinian economist and a senior fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies.
June 2007 marked a turning point in the Gaza Strip’s long, troubled history. Five days of a new round of internecine fighting during the second week of that month between Hamas-affiliated armed militants and the Fatah-allied security forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) left 135 Palestinians dead and 487 injured. The short factional face-off finally ended, on June 14, with the Islamist movement swiftly assuming complete control over the entire Gaza Strip.
Equally dramatic were the developments on the domestic political scene that soon followed. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian areas; dissolved the fragile, three-month-old Hamas-led national unity government; appointed an interim emergency government, headed by former PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad; and promised new elections. For its part, Hamas, having scored a stunning victory 18 months earlier in the January 2006 legislative elections, vehemently rejected Abbas’s move, deeming the new, West Bank–based PA cabinet unconstitutional and continuing to regard the Hamas-led government as the legitimate, democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people.
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