Usually, that muscle is exercised covertly. Last February, for example, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections, King Abdullah of Jordan visited Washington to discuss the implications of the vote. With the support of some officials in the State Department, the young king suggested that Washington should bolster beleaguered President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, to counter the new power of Hamas.
Then John Hannah intervened. A former official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Zionist think tank founded by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Hannah is a neoconservative ideologue who, after the resignation of Irving Lewis Scooter Libby, moved up to become Vice President Dick Cheneys top adviser on national security.
Hannah moved instantly to undermine Abdullahs influence. Not only should the United States not deal with Hamas, but Abbas, Fatah, and the entire Palestinian Authority were no longer relevant, he argued, according to intelligence insiders. Speaking for the vice presidents office, Hannah instead sought to align U.S. policy with the go-it-alone strategy of Israels hard-liners, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his stricken patron and predecessor, Ariel Sharon. Olmert soon stunned observers by declaring that Israel would unilaterally set final borders in the West Bank, annexing large swaths of occupied land, by the year 2010. His declaration precisely mirrored Hannahs argument that Israel should act alone.
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