July 7, 2009 6:30 AM
by Khaled Abu Toameh
the row between the Obama Administration and the Israeli government
over the settlements continues, Hamas is gradually turning the Gaza
Strip into a Taliban-style Islamic entity that poses a threat not only
Hamas and its rivals in the Palestinian Authority appear to be
satisfied with the fact that the Obama Administration has turned the
issue of the settlements into the major problem, shifting attention
from the incompetence and corruption in the
The high-profile controversy over
Thanks to the Obama Administration's new strategy regarding the
The foreign media is no longer interested in what's happening in the Gaza Strip. Nor are Western governments and international organizations dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflict.
As far as most decision-makers in the
Hamas feels confident to do whatever it wishes in the Gaza Strip because the Obama Administration and its allies in France, Germany and Britain are too busy arguing with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu whether settlers should be permitted to build new homes or not.
So what if young women in the Gaza Strip are being harassed and arrested by Hamas's "morality police" for laughing in public or leaving their homes without hijabs?
So what if young Palestinian women are banned from swimming unless they are covered from top to bottom? And so what if women are being banned from entering coffee shops and restaurants and other public places unless they are escorted by male relatives?
So what if young men are banned from swimming in the sea topless? And so what if Hamas is now operating a secret police whose job is to separate males from females in public places?
A Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip remarked: "The Americans and Europeans are fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in
The Palestinian Authority also appears to be happy about the West's obsessions with the settlements.
The Palestinian leadership's handling of the issue of the settlements is extremely hypocritical: Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salaam Fayad, insist on boycotting peace talks with
construction in the settlements has increased since the signing of the
Oslo Accords more than 15 years ago, but that did not stop the
Palestinian Authority from pursuing the peace talks with
Yasser Arafat negotiated with former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon even while the bulldozers were continuing to build new homes in the settlements.
So what is behind the Palestinian Authority's decision to suspend peace talks with
between Obama and Netanyahu have left many Palestinian Authority
leaders very happy and hopeful. Their optimism is based on the hope
that Obama will force
Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah seriously believe that