STATELESS IN GAZA
Since July 2004, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has faced its most serious internal challenge since it was established in 1994. A violent showdown in the Gaza Strip between competing nationalist factions-an "old guard" and a "young guard"-has threatened to destroy the PA and, with it, what little remains of domestic security and order after four years of uprising against Israel. The ongoing turmoil represents a critical danger, not just for Palestinian society and its dreams of a unified state, but also for Israel's plan to disengage unilaterally from Gaza-a plan the United States is counting on to revive the peace process and to regain much-needed credibility in the Middle East.
If Israel implements Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in the last quarter of 2005, Palestinian society will fragment even more, lose the benefit of unified representation, and very possibly lapse into bloody infighting.
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