Hamas is a terrorist organization. I use that term strictly, they do deliberately hit exclusively civilian targets and make no apologies for it. They're also, for the moment, a non-state actor. However, I also think that any progress here is going to require someone managing to achieve unity of force. The Israelis were never able to. Fatah similarly hasn't been able to despite heavy security support from the U.S. and Israel. Hamas has only been able to because Israel is out of Gaza, which I continue to think was a good idea.
So, how can a terrorist organization taking over Gaza prompt things to get better?
I buy Martin Indyk's analysis in the Washington Post.
The failed state of Gaza that Hamas controls is wedged between Egypt and Israel. Its water, electricity and basic goods are imported from the Jewish state, whose destruction Hamas has declared as its fundamental objective. One more Qassam rocket fired from Gaza into an Israeli village and Israel could threaten to seal the border if Hamas did not stop its attacks. Hamas would then have to reach a meaningful cease-fire with Israel or seek Egypt's help meeting the basic needs of the 1.5 million Gazans. Hosni Mubarak's regime turned a blind eye to the importation of weapons and money that helped ensure Hamas's takeover. But would Egypt allow on its border a failed terrorist state run by an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood with links to Iran and Hezbollah? Or will it insist on the maintenance of certain standards of order in return for its cooperation?
Whatever transpires, Gaza has become Hamas's problem. It's a safe bet that the real attitude of Abbas and Fatah is: Let Hamas try to rule Gaza, and good luck.
He goes on to say that Abbas is now better positioned to try to consolidate control in the West Bank, which is true enough. I don't expect a cease-fire between the Olmert government and Hamas. It may be possible with some future Israeli government, but only time will tell. Instead, I'm betting the Israelis are going to go for spending a lot of technical solutions to short range rockets and mortars. There's a lot of programs out their that have some potential, we'll see if they work. Given the success of the wall in preventing suicide bombings, a mortar/rocket solution would effectively destroy Gaza's remaining leverage over Israel.