Well today has been a busy day for the M.E.
According to a poll released Hamas' popularity is fading amongst Palestinians. Now I know nothing about the group doing the polling and so I am not taking that as gospel.
However... Other pieces of news surface and one potentially bad piece of news from the weekend.
Follow me for a round up of news concerning the Middle East.
SET CLOCKS - JUMP!
Last week, everyone was saying there was a deal for Gilad Shalit. Ha'aretz reported it as imminent. Now, not so much. There apparently is a split between Fatah and Hamas over the prisoner exchange.
Hamas is claiming they are in total agreement with Fatah on unity and in a gesture according to Ha'aretz the PA released 50 Hamas militants. For the chaos surrounding this try: http://www.haaretz.com/... or this: http://english.pnn.ps/...
Now onto some interesting news:
Ha'aretz is reporting the following:
Discontent with Hamas over slow-moving Palestinian unity talks and Israel's ban on Gaza reconstruction aid have led to a sharp decline in the Islamist group's popularity, an opinion poll showed on Monday.
The survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC) put public support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 18.8 percent, compared with 27.7 percent in its previous poll in January.
With that drop in support Hamas needs to find a way to gain popular support and when was it seemingly at the height of it's support - during Cast Lead.
If this is true it seems the Palestinian people are seeing the problems that Hamas' obstructionism is bringing. Of course, Israel has a hand in manipulating this as well - considering the Blockade of Gaza is meant to do exactly what it is doing politically.
So what is Hamas doing to combat this. First off we have seen the newer and more moderate Hamas opinion in statements to the U.S. - they seem to think they can fool President Obama into thinking the "leopard can change its spots". Now, in some cases it can but Hamas simply does not have the track record to prove it. AND coincidently today Tzahal Radio reports they have shot militants planting explosives along the Border fence. Just the kind of incident that led to the beginning of Cast Lead.
Now interestingly enough the P.A. reports today that it arrested a Hamas Militant for planning an attack from the West Bank. This is not the first attack they have stopped. Now as to the legitimacy of this report - who knows but, it makes sense that this might happen. This does fit the meme that if Hamas attacks and causes further Israeli security crackdowns on the West Bank - they will gain influence with the local population for "standing up to the Israelis".
This report also boosts Fatah as the folks that can keep the Israelis from levelling the West Bank. So who knows how true any of this is... however it is worth noting.
The Israelis on the other hand are doing themselves no favors by continuing to snub President Obama's plans. Reports have Nicolas Sarkozy telling Netanyahu to toss Lieberman (which he should) - this might as Assaf correctly pointed out in his diary might either result in A. Coalition collapse or B. Bringing the more moderate (yes I know who did Cast Lead) Kadima into the government.
A side note: Netanyahu determined to do teh Stoopid had this to say:
Netanyahu reportedly told Sarkozy that Lieberman came across differently in private than his public appearances would suggest.
Good to see Bibi not fooled by good advice (snark)
Israel - also in a move to reinforce Teh Stoopid just pledged to build 50 homes for the Outpost settlers they tossed the other week. What makes this "Teh Stoopid" THEY ARE BUILDING THEM IN THE WEST BANK.
All of this makes me wonder Can lefty - moderate Israelis or moderate Palestinians EVER catch a break????