Both Israel and the United States seem to be having a hard time accepting the reality that the factions making up the Palestinian Authority have finally agreed to cooperate. Their prayers for prolonged violence, possibly leading even to a civil war have gone unanswered.
Perhaps Dubya should reavaluate his belief that ‘God speaks to him’…
Yesterday Condi was in a frenzie trying to explain the newest developements to a group of American Jewish leaders… even before she read the text of the agreement made in Mecca.
I have seen the ‘panic button’ pushed many times when there was a war on the horizon…. but this has got to be a first….FEAR OF PEACE.
Hopefully it will be a lasting peace and both sides will adhere to the agreement… only then will there finally be prospects of a lasting peace in the entire region.
Following is an analysis from today’s New York Times on America’s attitudes….

In Palestinian Peace Deal, Hope and a Political Snare

Published: February 10, 2007
JERUSALEM, Feb. 9 — The agreement in Mecca between Fatah and Hamas on how to form a unity government was greeted with relief by many Palestinians on Friday as their best hope for an end to the fighting among them that has killed nearly 100 Palestinians since December.

But it poses a challenge for the Bush administration, which, along with Israel and several European countries, wants the new government to meet three benchmarks for normal relations: recognize the right of Israel to exist, forswear violence and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Without the three — and the Mecca accord does not accept them — an international boycott on the Palestinians would continue.

The administration will have to work hard to keep unity among its partners in the quartet — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — on the three conditions.

Russia has already demurred, welcoming the accord and saying that once the new government is formed it “should be combined with lifting a blockade of the Palestinian territories which has inflicted suffering and hardship to the people.”

The French also welcomed the deal, but the European Union spokeswoman, Emma Udwin, was cautious, saying that all parties agreed “to take the time to consider, to see what the agreement is and how it is going to be implemented” before deciding whether to lift the embargo.

The United States will also be reluctant to dismiss the Saudis’ accomplishments as brokers of the accord, given Washington’s interest in creating a broader moderate Arab coalition, including Egypt, Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries, to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional reach.

Already, Hamas has appealed for talks with the Europeans. Western nations “cannot ignore this agreement and impose their own conditions,” said Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas government spokesman. “The European Union should open a dialogue with this new government, and this is the only way to have stability in the region.”

The accord for the new government does not promise to stop attacks on Israel and Israelis, though one of the documents it referred to urges Palestinians to “focus” attacks on Israeli-occupied areas outside the 1967 boundary lines.

As for recognizing Israel, Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas spokesman, was explicit. “We will never recognize Israel,” he told Reuters in Gaza. “There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination.”

The Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, pressed by Washington, wanted a new government to accept previous agreements on the basis of which the Palestinian Authority itself exists. But Hamas, which will still dominate the new government, agreed only to “respect” previous agreements, not to accept them.

For Mr. Abbas, aides said, the most important accomplishment of the Mecca meeting was to try to stop the bloodletting, which was humiliating to Palestinians and to the Arab and other governments that support them. Sufian Abu Zaida, a former Fatah minister of prisoners and an aide to Mr. Abbas, said: “The main goal of this agreement is to save Palestinian blood. If they succeed in this, it’s a successful meeting. But in the long run, if they can’t end the economic and political siege, there is no guarantee that the government will last very long.”

But Mr. Abbas also looked weak, put by the Saudis in a position of symbolic equality with the exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal and unable to produce an agreement on the international benchmarks. A new government would also mean that Mr. Abbas’s threat to call early legislative and presidential elections would be hollow.

Fatah will take six positions in the new government, most of them relatively minor except that of deputy prime minister, which is likely to be filled by Muhammad Dahlan. Hamas will also continue to control the critical Interior Ministry through a so-called independent figure nominated by Hamas.

Many difficult issues are unresolved, including Hamas’s demands for reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as who might fill particular cabinet posts.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity before a full official government response, suggested that if Washington considered Mr. Abbas to have been compromised by the agreement — brought closer to Hamas, rather than Hamas brought closer to him — “it could have repercussions” for the planned summit meeting on Feb. 19 between the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and Mr. Abbas, to be led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

No one expects serious peace negotiations with Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas so weakened politically, but the talks may become more of a conflict management exercise than before. The United States warned Mr. Abbas about the dangers of a unity government headed by Hamas. Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of Parliament’s foreign and defense committee, said that Mr. Abbas “failed completely and awarded a significant victory to Hamas.” As a result, he told Israel Radio, “the chance of advancing an effective initiative and an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has receded.”

Saudi Arabia, for its part, emerges as a winner for playing host to the meeting, taking responsibility for the Palestinian cause and lessening the influence of Shiite Iran on Hamas.

Hamas emerges as a winner for sticking to its refusal to bow to Western demands and recognize Israel, renounce “resistance” or accept previous agreements like the 1993 Oslo accords, while co-opting Fatah into the “unity” government Hamas wanted and short-circuiting any threat of early elections.

Ordinary Palestinians will feel they are winners if the killing stops. In Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, Abbas Abu Helem, 36, who sells clothes in a stall, said he hoped that the Mecca talks would be a success.

“I hope it will stop the fighting,” he said. “We now have a deal, and I hope the factions can work together, because our life keeps getting harder and harder.”

Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington, and Khaled Abu Aker and Taghreed El-Khodary from Ramallah, West Bank.

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