Our Man in Palestine
Dayton, meanwhile, was overseeing the recruitment, training, and equipping of Abbas?s rapidly expanding security forces. Khaled Meshaal, chief of Hamas?s politburo, delivered a fiery speech denouncing "the security coup" as a "conspiracy" supported by "the Zionists and the Americans" — charges Fatah denied. In February 2007, on the brink of civil war, Fatah and Hamas leaders traveled to Mecca, where they agreed to form a national unity government, a deal the US opposed because it preferred that Fatah continue to isolate Hamas. Fayyad became finance minister in the new government, despite, he says, American pressure not to join. The Peruvian diplomat Alvaro de Soto, former UN envoy to the Quartet, wrote in a confidential ?End of Mission Report? that the violence between Hamas and Fatah could have been avoided had the US not strongly opposed Palestinian reconciliation. "The US," he wrote, "clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fateh and Hamas."
One month before Gaza fell to Hamas in June 2007, Hamas forces attacked USSC-trained troops at their base near Gaza's border with Israel, killing seven and withdrawing only after three Israeli tanks approached. Testifying before Congress the following week, Dayton claimed that the attack had been repulsed and denied that Hamas was on the rise — a prediction not borne out during the following weeks. "It took [Hamas] just a few days," said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, "to flush away a 53,000-strong PA security apparatus which was a fourteen-year Western investment."
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