Contrary to the grandiose and grotesque assertions of that Hamas gunman who was all over the news photos the other day, posing with a Gaza telephone and pretending he was talking to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - "Condi, you have to deal with me now!" he chortled - no, actually, Condi doesn't.
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And Monday it was Mahmoud Abbas on the direct line to Washington instead, receiving assurances from Rice and President Bush that his newly formed West Bank-based emergency government - Hamas not included - will get fresh political and economic assistance.
On Tuesday, Bush met with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss propping up Abbas as firmly as they can. Abbas has been a weak and ineffectual Palestinian president, and shameless official corruption is not unknown to the Fatah bunch over which he presides. Still, Abbas and Fatah are not the ones lobbing rockets into Israel, and the West is pleased to hear Abbas restate his intention to be a peace partner.
Having been routed from Gaza by Hamas terrorists, his side is now officially all there is for civilized parties to liaise with. Although there are no great expectations, working with Abbas is worth a shot in the hope that a careful step-by-step process might lead to a relationship between Israel and the West Bank, one that demonstrates to the Palestinians that there's a better way than the Hamas way. Provided that Abbas shows himself capable of keeping terrorism under control in his realm.
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