Bloggers worry about the fate of the Palestinian government, discuss the Vatican's rebuking of Amnesty International's modified position on abortion, and cheer a Welsh salesman-turned-opera-singer.
The Abbasid period: After weeks of internecine warfare between Hamas and Fatah, some measure of calm has been reached. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today formed an emergency government with former World Bank staffer Salam Fayyad as prime minister, though it's unclear how effective this move will be, now that Hamas is in de facto control of Gaza.
Gwen Glazer at National Journal's The Gate writes: "[E]ven if Fatah cooperates, without the support of the West it is unclear how Hamas will be able to govern the embattled region. Israel and Egypt closed their borders with the Gaza Strip, sealing off deliveries of humanitarian supplies. The United States and other Western powers, worried about a potential Iran-backed government, have in the past deemed Hamas a terrorist organization and refused to cooperate with its leaders -- meaning aid to the region could be cut off for good."
Lefty Kel at The Osterley Times thinks the United States is culpable: "Make no mistake, the violence that we have recently witnessed in Gaza has been encouraged by Washington who have been arming one side in this dispute, hoping that Abbas' Fatah party could take on and defeat Hamas. The opposite has happened, and all hopes of a peaceful state of Palestine in Gaza and the West Bank now hangs by a thread."
"Moderate Conservative Liberal" Michael P.F. van der Galiën argues that "Hamas is doing what it planned to do since they were elected into office (and well before that of course). They will take control over Gaza and will, most likely, attack Israel asap. Israel will then be forced to respond and the entire world will once again turn against Israel and Hamas will have a (propaganda) victory."
At Israpundit conservative Zionist Arlene Bridges-Samuels gives what-for to the Bush administration for putting its faith in Abbas: "[S]pare us all of the histrionics about Abbas and his 'moderates,' about Fatah possibly holding on to Judea and Samaria and running it any better than they did prior to Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005. Abbas and his Fatah/Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades have done NOTHING to deserve any support … from the US, Israel, the EU, even the other Arabs."
Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy's Passport echoes the Brookings Institute's Martin Indyk's interesting theory: that losing Gaza was Abbas' plan all along: "Consider: Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah's feared security chief, stayed in Cairo for knee surgery and only returned to the Palestinian territories on Thursday—but to the West Bank, not to Gaza. Abbas apparently gave no orders to Fatah fighters to attack, and they largely melted away without a fight. Abbas called for no international intervention to stop Hamas. … Now, Abbas may be able to open up the Western funding spigots while Hamas is left to stew in its brand new hellhole."
Read more about Abbas' state-of-emergency scramble in Palestine.
Church v. NGO: Amnesty International has announced that it supports a woman's right to an abortion in the case of incest or rape, leading the Vatican to condemn the group and order Catholics around the world to stop contributing money to it.
Louise Livesey at U.K. feminist blog the f-word says, "News that the Catholic Church would rather condone (by ignoring) human rights abuses rather than support an organisation that supports women's rights isn't really news I guess, in the sense that the Catholic Church has a history of ignoring (or sponsoring) human rights abuses."
Michael J.K. Stickings at The Moderate Voice is also on Amnesty's side: "Evidently … anti-abortion absolutism, even when combined with misrepresentation, as here, is more important to the Church — or at least to the Vatican, to be more precise — than Amnesty's important work on human rights. Would it not have been better for the Church to criticize Amnesty's position without going so far as to call on all Catholics to stop donating money to it?"
But John Schultz at Catholic Light sees one more reason to not support Amnesty: "Torture, death penalty, false imprisonment = bad[.] Abortion = a basic human right … O, the philosophical and moral hoops people jump through to try to create a facade of legitimacy to their views on abortion. …"
Read more about the Vatican/NGO mashup.
The fourth tenor: Welsh mobile-phone salesman Paul Potts is the U.K.'s favorite to win Britain's Got Talent, after his stunning opera singing advanced him into the televised competition's semifinals.
Alphamonkey at Transbuddha works in a little jab at the Yanks: "Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that an operatic singer would never get so far on the American version?"
But Pickled Eel just goes with the transcendent beauty of Potts' voice: "Watch the rolled eyes and sense the disbelief when he tells them he is going to sing opera. Then watch their transformation. There is something else I enjoy about this as well - Paul Potts, insofar as anyone can tell through the filter of the media, is a pretty unassuming guy. He has zero tickets on himself, seems like a thoroughly nice guy and just gets up there and lets rip. And for a chap who seems to have had bit of a rough run at life this is a nice turn around for him."
Read more Paul Potts fan blogging.