This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
For a week now, Palestinians have had to deal with a new political reality.
Their territories are now split between control by Fatah in the West Bank and
Hamas in the Gaza Strip. About one and one-half million people live in Gaza;
more than two million live in the West Bank.
Hamas forces took control of Gaza last week in the worst conflict ever
between Palestinians. In just a few days the Islamic militants of Hamas defeated
the security forces of Fatah.
Fatah is the party of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian
Authority. Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria. It was created with an aim of
destroying Israel and has killed hundreds of Israelis.
So where does all this leave efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks? The goal is to create an independent Palestine from the territories next
to Israel. President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet
Monday in Egypt to discuss the situation. They last met in April.
Mr. Olmert says he hopes that serious negotiations about a Palestinian state
will be able to start soon.
President Abbas has moved quickly to dismiss
a Hamas-led unity government and establish an emergency government. The new
cabinet, sworn in Sunday, is made up of independents and close allies of Fatah.
The prime minister is Salam Fayyad, an international economist.
Mr. Abbas has received support for his new government from the Arab League as
well as the European Union and the United States. President Bush called the
Palestinian president "a reasonable voice amongst the extremists" in that area
of the world.
The United States and the European Union announced this week that they will
restart financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. The aid was suspended for
more than a year because the Hamas-led government refused to recognize Israel's
right to exist.
Western governments are also offering more money for United Nations
humanitarian efforts in Gaza. But some people fear a humanitarian crisis. There
are also concerns that a complete boycott of Hamas could turn Gaza into a base
for international terrorism.
Israel, the United States and the European Union have declared Hamas a
terrorist organization. Yet dissatisfaction with Fatah leaders and what was seen
as abuse of power and corruption helped bring Hamas to power.
Hamas began its rise to popularity in the late 1980s, during the
first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. Hamas established social
services for Palestinians. Following the Oslo peace agreements in the early 90s,
it launched a campaign of suicide bombings against Israel.
Two years ago Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza. Then, early last year, Hamas
won Palestinian parliamentary elections. The victory led to fighting between
Hamas and Fatah. And that led to the unity government which took office three
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm