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The general collapse of government functions in the Gaza Strip yesterday urged several senior Palestinian figures to seriously contemplate Professor Ali Jarbawi's advice to disband the Palestinian Authority.

Even before the civil war which Hamas and Fatah are starting in the Strip, Professor Jarbawi of Bir Zeit University maintained that the Palestinian Authority was a mere illusion of power: occupation under the guise of self government, and therefore useless.

Yesterday, a Palestinian journalist likened the Palestinian Authority to a smoke-belching car wreck, adding that it was time to toss the keys to the Israelis. His view is shared by many Palestinian civilians in Gaza, who in recent days have told the media that they are fed up. "We've had enough, we should be so lucky as to see the return of the Israeli occupation."

The recent events we have been witnessing in Gaza are actually the disbanding of Palestinian rule. The primary reason for the break-up is the fact that Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has refused to fully share the PA's mechanism of power with its rival Hamas - in spite of Hamas' decisive victory in the January 2006 general elections.

Fatah was forced to overrule the Palestinian voters because the entire world demanded it do so. The United States, the European nations, most of the Arab leaders and, of course, the State of Israel, warned Fatah not to share power with Hamas.

And so, after the Israeli pullout, instead of becoming a model for Palestinian self-rule, Gaza turned into the exact opposite. Matters have come to the point where Hamas operatives attempted all through yesterday and the day before to take by force what they believe they rightfully deserve.

Abbas is maintaining that over the last couple of days, Hamas has been attempting to stage a coup. Everyone following the events share this opinion.

Hamas' military drive seems to have been meticulously planned in advance, including the targeting of headquarters, public facilities, and particular central figures.

There were signs of the approaching calamity. Over the past week, Hamas officials inveighed against Fatah without exercising any sort of restraint. They have slandered Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah's leader in Gaza, and his men with every conceivable accusation: traitors, thieves and Zionist agents.

They even said many of Dahlan's men had deserted and escaped to Israel, preferring Tel Aviv's bars and cafes to their native Gaza. These accusations certainly strike a note with many on the Gaza streets. One and a quarter million residents, embittered by their predicament.

The PA may be torn apart, rather than disbanded, as Jarbawi had hoped, but its death seems to be Fatah's only resort. Fatah founded the PA on the basis of the Oslo Accords which are no more. The time has apparently come for the PA to dissolve too.

It is the PA's only weapon against Israel, which will be forced to invade and fill the vacuum which the PA's disappearance will leave. The IDF will have to re-occupy the territories, and assume the responsibility that no one in Israel wants to accept.