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The Palestinian Authority has taken "law and order" to an extreme level in the West Bank. Every 20 meters there is a traffic cop - Palestinian of course - to make sure that nobody parks in a forbidden spot, as well as a new machine that dispenses parking cards.

Ten seconds after I parked my car - admittedly, in an area reserved for taxis - a Palestinian Authority cop came up to me and ordered me to move my vehicle.

Sometimes I miss the days in which chaos ruled the West Bank - the days in which I could park wherever my heart desired.

Eventually, after I begged enough, the policeman allowed me to leave the vehicle for a short while so that I could buy a paper.

A glance at the front page of Al-Quds, the leading West Bank daily newspaper, reveals why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is less than pleased with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

True, Abbas appointed Fayyad, who is effectively one of his clerks. But the president's concerns are clarified when one sees Fayyad surrounded by deaf children in one article, and referred to in another as "the only commander with a plan: Salam Fayyad - a new breed of Palestinian politician."

Though Fayyad has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of running for the Palestinian presidency, his conduct indicates that the opposite is true. In recent months, Fayyad has participated in a running race in Nablus, helped bake the world's largest knafeh, burnt goods produced in settlements, planted olive trees, costumed himself as a Bedouin sheikh, and more.

The biggest problem for senior Fatah officials hostile to Fayyad is that the Palestinian prime minister is not a member of their faction.

The organization has been following with concern Fayyad's recent moves, as well as the increase in public support for him. According to the most recent polls, only Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh and jailed Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti are more popular.

The same Fatah officials realize that if Palestinian presidential elections are held - highly unlikely to happen anytime soon - in which Abbas and do not participate, Fayyad could well emerge as the victor.

But none of this is news. The reason for the escalation in the level of hostility between Fayyad and Abbas is the Palestinian prime minister's recent statements regarding his intent of unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state in August 2011.

Abbas and his inner circle were put off by Fayyad's attempt to dictate a new policy to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. This is the reason for the "slap in the face" that came earlier this week.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV, Abbas was asked whether the PA intends to unilaterally declare a state in August 2011. His answer was unequivocal - "No! We have no intention of making unilateral moves. We will abide by the agreements."

And as for Gaza: Five Palestinians were killed in the Strip on Wednesday, one by Israel Defense Forces fire near the border fence, and four others who were buried alive in a smuggling tunnel that was apparently collapsed by the Egyptians.

Hamas claims that the Egyptians filled the tunnel with poisonous gas, but the bottom line is that while the PA is making headlines thanks to the gentle Israeli occupation - which the PA communications minister recently called a "five-star occupation" - the plight of Palestinians in Gaza is worsening.

The steps that Egypt has recently taken against the Gaza tunnel smugglers have impeded the flow of funds to Hamas. As a result, the organization has increased taxation on Gazans, 70 percent of whom are already living under the poverty line.

The Gaza story doesn't have a happy ending. That pressure pot will explode sooner or later, but until that happens, Israel and the world can continue to be oblivious.

Posted by Avi Issacharoff on April 29, 2010

Previous MESS Report posts:

  • Netanyahu is incapable of making peace - but does Israel care?
  • Does Israel stand alone against Iran?
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace isn't the Mideast's magic cure
  • Israel has ample reason to worry in its 63rd year
  • Israelis right to heed Sinai kidnap warning
  • Syria is shipping Scud missiles to Hezbollah
  • Snubbed IDF chief won't fight to stick around
  • The race is on for next IDF chief
  • Four Gaza factions halt rocket fire, in bow to Hamas
  • Is Gaza now Netanyahu's biggest problem?