Friday, September 8, 2006

The bigger Palestinian picture

By Lamis Andoni
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Prime Minister Haniyeh's accusations that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee is conspiring against Hamas hold a lot of truth. Although united by different motivations, the PLO Executive Committee has joined Fatah's Central Committee in openly exploiting present Palestinian economic hardships to undermine the Hamas government.

"Some Fatah leaders and influential Palestinian Authority (PA) personalities want Hamas to declare defeat. There is no real interest in a partnership, but in a triumphant return", says one PLO official in touch with both parties. In the words of another PLO official, Fatah cannot fathom the fact that it is no longer the ruling party while Hamas is mainly concerned about the "success of Islamic rule".

But if Fatah, which still cannot take full responsibility for its defeat in last January's elections, has found an opportunity in outing Hamas, or at least subjugating it, the Islamist movement has the responsibility of making tough choices. What has transpired is that no Palestinian government can opt for both assuming power under the obligations of agreements with Israel and challenging the system that such agreements have brought into being. Late president Yasser Arafat was ostracised, besieged and driven to his death by challenging the system -- in spite of all of his political compromises.

Hamas is already discovering the limitations set on any Palestinian government set up within a system already confined by signed agreements with Israel. Popular elections notwithstanding, Hamas has found itself in a system totally dependent on Israel and international funding. The Oslo Accords may be buried under the rubble of demolished Palestinian homes, but its chains have survived, nurtured by Israel, Arab and Western governments.

It is no secret that some senior PLO emissaries have spared no time promising European leaders that they would save the Oslo induced "process" and subjugate Hamas. But even if a national unity government relatively acceptable to the world, and which could ease the siege on the Palestinians, were formed, Palestinians would still be faced with the challenge of finding a strategy that gets them out of a perpetual siege of agreements that undermine the core of Palestinian self-determination and their struggle for freedom."

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