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Palestinian Gunmen Storm Palestinian Parliament

Did your mom ever say to you just after you broke something around the house: "this is why we can’t have nice things"?

From those terrorist enablers at Reuters:

Gunmen storm Palestinian parliament

Saturday January 28

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Firing into the air, Fatah gunmen and police stormed Palestinian parliament buildings on Saturday in growing unrest after their long-dominant party’s crushing election defeat by Hamas Islamists.

Hamas leaders meanwhile rejected as "blackmail" Western demands that it renounce violence against Israel or risk losing aid vital to the survival of the Palestinian Authority.

Hopes of peacemaking with Israel have been pushed further into limbo.

Turmoil since the parliamentary election landslide has fuelled fears of inter-Palestinian strife as Hamas tries to form a government and possibly take over security forces packed with Fatah loyalists at odds with the Islamic militants.

Thousands of gunmen from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah held protests across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, many firing automatic rifles into the air.

They took over parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah for about 20 minutes, shouting demands from the roof before descending peacefully. Fatah militants and police also seized the parliament building in the Gaza Strip.

The gunmen demanded Fatah leaders resign. They also aimed to dissuade the party from any idea of sharing power with Hamas or letting it control security forces — after Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal said it planned to form "an army".

"We will transform the army of the Palestinian Authority into armed militias. We are not waiting for Hamas to teach us their Islamic beliefs. We know the Koran by heart," said Fatah gunman Ramzi Obeid.

In Gaza, where eight people were hurt on Friday in clashes between Fatah and Hamas activists, the gunmen were joined in their protest by police opposed to any Hamas control over them.

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz repeated Israel’s vow not to negotiate with Hamas and to strike at its leaders if the group, which has waged a suicide bombing campaign against the Jewish state, broke a February truce.

ISRAEL TESTS ABBAS

"We will not under any circumstances agree to speak with Hamas," he told Israel’s Channel 2 television. "If Hamas chooses a way of terror and violence like before … it will come under an unprecendented Israeli attack."

Hamas leaders have also ruled out peace talks with the Jewish state. Mofaz said Israel would negotiate only with Abbas and would wait to see if he disarmed militants, as required by a U.S.-backed peace "road map", before deciding its next steps.

Both Abbas and interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was chosen to run in Ariel Sharon’s place in a March 28 ballot after Sharon suffered a stroke last month, have vowed to follow the peace plan, which has been stalled by violence.

In a message clearly aimed at Hamas, Palestinian Authority police commander Ala Hosni said the Islamist group would not be in charge of security forces because they came under the authority of President Abbas.

"The security institution is the only guarantee to prevent sedition and civil war. Civil war began in Somalia after the collapse of the army and security institutions," Hosni said.

Fatah leaders have so far rejected joining any coalition with Hamas, and it could take weeks to form one anyway. Popular jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi urged an orderly transfer of power to Hamas.

Hamas leaders are preparing to set up a government by themselves if need be, after winning votes from Palestinians tired with corruption and Fatah’s failure to deliver a state, as well as supportive of a Hamas suicide bombing campaign.

The United States has said it will review aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas enters government and Israel suggested it could suspend customs revenue transfers. The European Union, the biggest donor, is looking at its options.

Top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters that the group could turn towards sources in the Arab world if the West cut off funding.

In Damascus, Meshaal said that not only would Hamas not disarm but it would form a new Palestinian security force which would be an "army like every country … an army to defend our people against aggression".

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, January 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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