Apparently the proceedings in the Gaza Strip were planned long since. The EU and USA, unhappy with "terrorist"-labelled Hamas being elected into parliament, not only kept denying the Hamas government fundings and diplomatic support to make it "fail" in the eyes of voters, but also pressured Fatah to take action and overthrow the government.
Reuters AlertNet reports the following:
Edward Abington, Abbas's long-time adviser and Washington lobbyist, said the Bush administration made its intentions known to the president soon after Hamas was elected in early 2006. Abbas was told "Hamas is an illegitimate organisation and that they are doing everything they can to force it out of power".
Abington recounted a meeting as long ago as July last year at which "(Abbas) said to me that the Americans were urging him to kick out the government, to form an emergency government".
"He refused to do it because it would lead to civil war.
"(Abbas) did not want to get into a confrontation," said Abington. But in the end, he said, "it was forced on him."
However, things didn't go according to the plans, and Hamas seized control over Gaza.
Why did Hamas win the parliamentary elections in the first place? Probably because the voters were fed up with Fatah's corruption and inefficiency, and wanted to "state an example" - kind of like when the Swedish right-wing coalition wins the elections every once in a while, after the Social Democrats have gotten too lazy and smug.
It can be argued that it is fairly inconsequent of the USA and EU to pressure Fatah to overthrow a legitimately elected government while at the same time pretending to advocate "democracy". But Matthew Levitt, who until January was in charge of terrorism issues at the U.S. Treasury, and now is at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, considers it to be fully justified:
"There are consequences to electing terrorists. One of them is you can't expect the West to embrace them."
It's only democracy if we like it.
Meanwhile, caught up in all this are the millions of 'normal' Palestinians.