Abbas Bans Hamas Militia; 6 Palestinian Gangs Threaten to Ban Abbas
This past weekend, Mahmoud Abbas banned the Hamas militia, ordering that the Hamas Executive Force be disarmed and disbanded, and that its members must be absorbed into the Palestinian Authority's existing legal security forces. A Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman from the Hamas party reacted by announcing that the size of the Executive Force would be doubled to 12,000 members.
Today, six Palestinian militias, including a break-away group from his own Fatah organization, issued a joint statement warning that they will kill “collaborators and traitors” if Abbas attempts to carry out his threat to disband the force. As reported by Israel National News:
“We hold Abbas responsible for every drop of blood that will be shed by our kinsmen because of his decision,” said a statement by the terrorist coalition. “We hold him personally responsible, along with the master of conspiracy and division, the godfather of the American plot, named Mohammed Dahlan,” the statement continued, adding that “with much regret,” the group might find itself “forced occasionally [to] strike the hubs of treason and conspiracy.”Fatah officials said bluntly that the statement constituted a threat to assassinate Abbas and Dahlan.
No civil society can exist where the government does not have a monopoly on organized armed force. Private militias are both a cause and a symptom of failed states.
In the history of Israel, recognition of this led to the infamous Altalena Affair, in June 1948, when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion ordered the Israel Defense Forces to open fire on, and eventually sink, a ship being used by the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, to ship arms into the new Jewish State. Whether such drastic measures were necessary has been hotly debated by Israeli historians and political factions--the Irgun had already agreed to be incorporated into the Israeli Defense Forces and Begin had promised that the arms would be turned over to the Israeli government. However, even Begin would not have questioned the fundamental principle underlying Ben Gurion's controversial decision--that private militias undermine civil security and the state must have a monopoly on armed force.
That sort of statecraft is sorely lacking in the Palestinian Authority, which is a kleptocracy, and where private militias are viewed as the mandatory means of assuring that any given group has a piece of the action in the criminal rackets of smuggling and misappropriation of international aid. In Palestinian society, loyalties are owed first to tribe, clan and family, not to the Palestinian Authority. Whatever his motives, Mahmoud Abbas took a brave step that is necessary if a viable Palestinian state is ever to emerge. Whether Abbas succeeds, fails, or simply backs down will tell the world a great deal about the future of the Palestinian Authority and the prospects for peace with Israel.