Saturday, December 23, 2006

Meanwhile in Palestine

Announcements of Israeli Change of Policy Unfounded in Reality: Despite assurances relayed by American and European diplomats, foreign passport holders trying to join their families in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including Bethlehem, for the holidays are being denied entry and expelled by Israel. In stark contrast to that announcement, at least three foreign nationals attempting to join their families in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory were expelled last week.

Villagers Unite Against Apartheid Road: This afternoon over 200 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists participated in a protest against the proposed “Route 60? apartheid road which will illegally annex Palestinian farmland, affect homes and destroy significant heritage sites including a cemetery in the Halhul and Beit Omar villages near Hebron in the West Bank. The proposed road will result in the illegal confiscation of precious Palestinian farmland and be exclusively for the use of Jewish settlers.

Wall gate delays transfer of body of a deceased resident for three hours: Even the dead cannot cross through this gate installed in the Annexation Wall section leading to Barta'a village, south-west of Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank. As residents were attempting to move the body of a dead relative back to the village, soldiers stationed at a gate of the Wall delayed their entry to their own village for three hours.

Infighting fails to inspire Gaza blood donors:
When Palestinians are wounded by Israeli fire, Gaza's hospitals fill up with blood donors. But after this week's factional fighting, they've been largely empty as residents register their discontent with the internecine violence. For the dozens of people wounded during this week's battles between Fatah and Hamas, that could soon mean a shortage of badly needed blood." Our blood bank is at its lowest level," said doctor Jumaa al-Saqqa.

PM Olmert and PA Chair Abbas meet in Jerusalem: The meeting is being described as a private one, and therefore the leaders will not hold a press conference nor issue any official statements following the meeting. The meeting signals that the two sides have reached agreement on the confidence-building measures Israel will offer the PA chairman.

Head of Fateh in PLC says national unity dialogue must be complete in 2 weeks & is still blaming PM: He gave it two weeks, telling a Ramallah press conference that if talks were not completed within that time frame, the President would move forward with early elections. “The decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to call for Presidential and Legislative elections is serious. President Abbas is holding consultations with the Central Elections Commission and the relevant parties for the provision of the technical and security aspects of holding elections.

Senior Fatah security official critically hurt in Gaza shooting: Hassan Jarbouh, the deputy director of the Rafah branch of the Preventive Security Service, which is allied with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was critically wounded in the shooting.

30 village councils in Bethlehem voice appeal for ceasefire: Thirty village councils in Bethlehem voiced an appeal to all Palestinian factions in order to stop the internal clashes and solidify the ceasefire between the armed groups, especially Fateh and Hamas who engaged in violent clashes. Moreover, the appeal stated that the Palestinian people are facing a serious stage which involves vast immigration of youth and businessmen while the Israeli occupation continued its attacks and assaults against the people and their property.

Israel blocks another UN fact-finding mission: Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mark Regev disingenuously claimed that Israel had not denied entry, but simply not yet reached a decision. The families of the 19 Palestinian civilians slain at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 8 November 2006 will apparently not see even an approximation of justice at this time.

'A matter of making history': It is not easy to take responsibility for the future of over one million people, but that is what Rinawi has been doing for the past year and a half. During this period she coordinated the work of about 40 Israeli Arab intellectuals, who together sought to come up with a vision for their community's future in the coming years.

Abbas opposes Hamas proposal for long-term truce with Israel: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that he opposes a Hamas proposal to offer Israel a long-term cease-fire in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 boundary.

Palestinian Fatah, Hamas committed to cease-fire deal: A Palestinian factional committee announced on Saturday that rivals Fatah and Hamas groups are holding on to an internal deal of cease-fire in spite of sporadic violations. In a joint written statement, representatives of the two movements agreed to stop media escalation and set up a joint office to monitor any future breach in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militant group threatens to drop ceasefire with Israel: Dawood Shihab, Islamic Jihad's spokesman in Gaza, told reporters that his movement "rejects the calm agreement and the truce with Israel which continues its attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank." On Thursday, two Islamic Jihad militants were killed in northern West Bank by Israeli special forces.

Quartet to channel funds to Palestinians skirting Hamas: In a statement, the so-called Quartet - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - said the Palestinian people are in need and encouraged donors to respond to UN and other requests for aid.

Harper calls Hamas 'genocidal':
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will not talk with the "genocidal" Islamic groups Hamas and Hezbollah even though he acknowledged that dialogue is the way to peace in the Middle East.

Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return opens Beirut headquarters: In a news conference held at the Press Federation headquarters in Ain al-Mreisseh on Friday, FIRM's administrators described the organization as a non-governmental, cultural entity, whose activities encompass issues related to the Palestinian diaspora. FIRM is dedicated to championing the Palestinian refugees' cause and their right of return to their homeland. One of FIRM's key goals is the creation of a lobby "that would make the voice of Palestinian refugees heard."

Supreme Court compels finance ministry to explain exclusion of Arab villages: Adalah also requested that an equitable policy be determined for the calculation of compensation payments covering the remaining towns and villages in northern Israel, which have been classified as 'restricted towns'. This would entail applying an equal method of compensation, in accordance with the Property Tax Regulations and Restitution Fund (Compensation Payments) (Direct and Indirect War Damages), 1973, to all towns and villages exposed to the same dangers during the war.

South Africans Urge the Recall of the Ambassador From Tel Aviv and Sanctions Against Israel: At a press conference held on the 18th of December in South Africa the Palestine Solidarity Committee, COSATU (the Congress of South African Trade Unions representing 1.2 million workers) and the South African Council of Churches called on the South African government to recall the ambassador to Israel and to implement sanctions against Israel.

Fighting rages on in Gaza and West Bank; Abbas blocks Hamas appointments: Adding to the tensions, Abbas blocked five major Hamas appointments to senior government positions. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas had accused Abbas of trying to subvert the government's authority by refusing to authorize the appointments. Adnan Amr, a legal adviser to Abbas, said the president rejected 40 appointments in all.

Christians suffer for Iraq, says archbishop: Dr Williams, who is visiting Israel with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, the Armenian Primate of Britain and David Coffey, the head of the Baptist World Alliance, returns to Britain today with a call for all British churches to take action to raise the profile of Christians in the Middle East. Dr Williams said yesterday that the Israeli-built wall around Bethlehem symbolised what was “deeply wrong in the human heart”.

Face to faith: Back in May, in the Assembly Hall at the top of the Mound in Edinburgh, during the Church of Scotland's general assembly, the Rev Dr Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran minister from Bethlehem, won the rapt atttention of the gathering when he spoke movingly about what it feels like to be living in the birthplace of Christ surrounded by the high wall erected by the Israeli Defence Force in the West Bank.

Alive and kicking: One of the speakers shouted into the microphone slogans about Palestinian unity and the heroic shaheeds (martyrs), Yasser Arafat and Ahmad Yassin. He asked the participants to repeat after him: "I swear in the name of Allah that I will not participate and I will not fight in wars against members of my Palestinian people."

End the policy of isolation: As long as the United States does not change its policies toward Iran and Syria - that is, open the lines of communication and break their diplomatic isolation as well as the isolation of Hamas - there can never be a solution to the Palestinian problem. This also forms part of the recommendations issued in the Baker-Hamilton report, recommendations that Bush still seems very hesitant to adopt.

Olmert giving Abbas one last chance (LOL!!!!!!!): The real reason behind the recent restraint in the face of ongoing Qassam attacks is only discussed in the innermost offices of the government: It's not a desire to win points from the international community and it's not recognition of the fact that the IDF has no effective solution to stop the Qassam fire.

Satire gone wild: Another thing is that Independence Day or Remembrance Day or the Sherutrom (annual fundraising day for the IDF), all the strong Zionist powers here have so much propaganda power. We don’t say what’s right and what’s wrong, we just want to expose the fact that this is propaganda. I think that the perviousness of the Israeli society to different ideas has really decreased, especially since the intifada… in some way we want to disrupt the way in which reality is viewed.

Civilian killed in Gaza clashes:
Clashes in Gaza City between Hamas men and a powerful local clan have cast doubt on a recent truce between rival Palestinian groups.

Hamas puts together plan for 5-year truce with Israel:
Israeli newspapers claimed to have a copy of the document, which it said was put together by representatives of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and European officials.

Bush inks law blocking aid to Hamas govt: The "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006," Bush said in a statement, is "designed to promote the development of democratic institutions in areas under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority."

America's Double Standard on Democracy in the Middle East: What's good for Beirut is not good for Gaza, according to Washington's playbook. And that discrepancy undermines the credibility of U.S. claims to be promoting democracy in the region.

Provoking Civil War in the Occupied Territories: So it's official. Britain is no longer simply boycotting a democratically elected Palestinian government. Following Tony Blair's visit, it is committing millions of pounds to Fatah militias that wish to overthrow it.

George Galloway - Israel: A History Of Violence: Audio: British Member Of Parliament, George Galloway Answers Questions From A Zionist Supporter.

Jerusalem Post: Has Carter crossed the line?: Have former US president Jimmy Carter's recent statements crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israel to illegitimate anti-Semitism?

Jimmy Carter is engaged in the practice of soft Zionism: You can't condemn the poisonous waters of hatred and oppression that are drowning the Palestinian people and yet ignore the river of Zionism from which these waters flow.

Stalin's Jews: An Israeli student finishes high school without ever hearing the name "Genrikh Yagoda," the greatest Jewish murderer of the 20th Century.

Abbas rejects temporary truce with Israel: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the idea of a Palestinian state with temporary borders in return for long-term truce with Israel.

Hamas views Abbas-Olmert meeting as insignificant: The Palestinian Islamic group Hamas on Saturday played down significance of a meeting that grouped Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem today.

'What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?': Johann Hari on the plight of pregnant women in the West Bank, where babies are dying needlessly

Embracing The Butcher Of Beit Hanoun

Saturday: Olmert, Abbas meet in J’lem

(VIDEO) Two leaders were expected to discuss possible release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, agreed upon ceasefire and Abbas’ proposal to move up PA elections; Abbas aide says following meeting: Agreement reached on a number of issues

Watch Video Of Abbas Embracing The Butcher of Beit Hanoun And Dining In His Jerusalem House

The Israeli gestures “agreed” at the first Olmert-Abbas talks Saturday night in Jerusalem were conferred weeks ago

"The same package of gestures, concessions and benefits was doled out in the three weeks leading up to the first heart-to-heart Saturday night, Dec. 23, between prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the prime minister’s private home in Jerusalem.

DEBKAfile reports it consisted of automatic weapons and ammunition (as disclosed by DEBKAfile), a portion of the frozen Palestinian assets and permission to move the PLO’s Badr Brigade from its Jordanian base to the Gaza Strip.

The last concession is stalled by the Palestinian insistence on the incoming troops bringing their families and settling permanently, which looks to Israel suspiciously like a back-door migration of Palestinian refugees, rather than a military boost for the Palestinian Authority. In any case, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the Badr troops have not had any military training in years......

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice leaned hard on both leaders to get together to demonstrate successful US-sponsored diplomacy in at least one corner of the Middle East. She turned to Jerusalem in Ramallah in a region where everywhere else Washington’s fortunes are in reverse.......

What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?

Johann Hari

In two days, a third of humanity will gather to celebrate the birth pains of a Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem - but two millennia later, another mother in another glorified stable in this rubble-strewn, locked-down town is trying not to howl.

Fadia Jemal is a gap-toothed 27-year-old with a weary, watery smile. "What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure what I have endured," she says.

Fadia clutches a set of keys tightly, digging hard into her skin as she describes in broken, jagged sentences what happened. "It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on," she says. She was already nervous about the birth - her first, and twins - so she told her husband to grab her hospital bag and get her straight into the car.

They stopped to collect her sister and mother and set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. "Obviously, we told them we couldn't wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn't understand."

Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. "I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital," she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could "certainly" have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.

"Now Mariam is at an age when she asks me where her brother is," Fadia says. "She wants to know what happened to him. But how do I explain it?" She looks down. "Sometimes at night I scream and scream." In the years since, she has been pregnant four times, but she keeps miscarrying. "I couldn't bear to make another baby. I was convinced the same thing would happen to me again," she explains. "When I see the [Israeli] soldiers I keep thinking - what did my baby do to Israel?"

Since Fadia's delivery, in 2002, the United Nations confirms that a total of 36 babies have died because their mothers were detained during labour at Israeli checkpoints. All across Bethlehem - all across the West Bank - there are women whose pregnancies are being disturbed, or worse, by the military occupation of their land.

In Salfit, on the other side of the West Bank, Jamilla Alahad Naim, 29, is waiting for the first medical check-up of her five-month pregnancy. "I am frightened all the time," she says. "I am frightened for my baby because I have had very little medical treatment and I cannot afford good food ... I know I will give birth at home with no help, like I did with Mohammed [her last child]. I am too frightened to go to hospital because there are two checkpoints between our home [and there] and I know if you are detained by the soldiers, the mother or the baby can die out there in the cold. But giving birth at home is very dangerous too."

Hindia Abu Nabah - a steely 31-year-old staff nurse at Al Zawya Clinic, in Salfit district - says it is "a nightmare" to be pregnant in the West Bank today. "Recently, two of our pregnant patients here were tear-gassed in their homes ... The women couldn't breathe and went into premature labour. By the time we got there, the babies had been delivered stillborn."

Many of the medical problems afflicting pregnant women here are more mundane than Jamilla's darkest fears: 30 per cent of pregnant Palestinians suffer from anaemia, a lack of red blood cells. The extreme poverty caused by the siege and now the international boycott seems to be a key factor. The doctors here warn grimly that as ordinary Palestinians' income evaporates, they eat more staples and fewer proteins - a recipe for anaemia. There is some evidence, they add, that women are giving the best food to their husbands and children, and subsisting on gristle and scraps. The anaemia leaves women at increased risk of bleeding heavily and contracting an infection during childbirth.

Earlier this year, conditions for pregnant women on the West Bank - already poor - fell off a cliff. Following the election of Hamas, the world choked off funding for the Palestinian Authority, which suddenly found itself unable to pay its doctors and nurses. After several months medical staff went on strike, refusing to take anything but emergency cases. For more than three months, the maternity wards of the West Bank were empty and echoing. Beds lay, perfectly made, waiting for patients who could not come.

In all this time, there were no vitamins handed out, no ultrasound scans, no detection of congenital abnormalities. Imagine that the NHS had simply packed up and stopped one day and did not reopen for 12 weeks, and you get a sense of the scale of the medical disaster.

Some women were wealthy enough to go to the few private hospitals scattered across the West Bank. Most were not. So because of the international boycott of the Palestinians, every hospital warns there has been an unseen, unreported increase in home births on the West Bank.

I found Dr Hamdan Hamdan, the head of maternity services at Hussein Hospital, Bethlehem, pacing around an empty ward, chain-smoking. "This ward is usually full," he said. "The women who should be in this hospital - what is happening to them?"

They have been giving birth in startlingly similar conditions to those suffered by Mary 2,000 years ago. They have delivered their babies with no doctors, no sterilised equipment, no back-up if there are complications. They have been boycotted back into the Stone Age. The strike ended this month after the PA raised funds from Muslim countries - but the effects of stopping maternity services are only now becoming clear. Hindia Abu Nabah says: "There is a clear link between the deteriorating health situation and the international boycott.

Amid this horror, one charity has been supporting pregnant Palestinian women even as their medical services fell apart.

Merlin - one of the three charities being supported by the Independent Christmas Appeal - has set up two mobile teams, with a full-time gynaecologist and a paediatrician, to take medical services to the parts of the West Bank cut off by the Israeli occupation. They provide lab technicians and ultrasound machines - the fruits of the 21st century.

I travelled with the team to the Salfit region - scarred by Israeli settlements pumping out raw sewage on to Palestinian land - to see women and children desperately congregating around them seeking help. Amid the dozens of nervous women and swarms of sickly children, Rahme Jima, 29, is sitting with her hands folded neatly in her lap. She is in the last month of her pregnancy, and this is the first time she has seen a doctor since she conceived.

"The nearest hospital is in Nablus, and we can't afford to pay for the transport to get there through all the checkpoints," she says, revealing she is planning - in despair - to give birth at home. Even if she had the cash, she says she is "too frightened of being detained at the checkpoint and being forced to give birth there". She sighs, and adds: "I will be so relieved to finally be seen by a doctor, I have been so worried." But when she returns from seeing the doctor, she says: "I have anaemia, and they have given me iron supplements," supplied by Merlin. She can't afford to eat well; she lives with her husband and four children in a room in her mother-in-law's house, and her husband, Joseph, has been unemployed since his permit to move through the checkpoints expired. "The doctor says I should have been seen much earlier in my pregnancy. My baby will probably be born too small."

All the problems afflicting these 21st century Marys are paraded in Merlin's clinic. One terrified, terrorised mother after another presents herself to the specialists here, and leaves clutching packs of folic acid, calcium, iron and medicine. Dr Bassam Said Nadi, the senior medical officer for this area, says: "I thank Merlin for the specialist care they have brought. Not long ago, we didn't even have petrol in our cars. Alongside other organisations, they are helping us survive this terrible period in our country's history."

Merlin can only maintain these mobile clinics with your help. Leaning in the doorway of her bare clinic, Hindia Abu Nabah says: "Tell your readers that we need their help. There are no Hamas or Fatah foetuses. They don't deserve to be punished. I couldn't stand to look another anaemic woman in the eye and tell her that her baby will be underweight or malformed and we don't have iron supplements to give her. I can't go back to that. I can't."

Hamas Cares for Palestinians

By Ulrike Putz in Gaza City

The West classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization, but in the Gaza Strip, the Islamist organization is widely respected for helping families in need. International aid groups also praise Hamas for being free of corruption.

Etidal Sinati's life in poverty began one night in March 2003. Israeli helicopters were flying air attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza City and Etidal's husband Mohammed and a group of other men from the neighborhood went out to assess the damage. But the Israelis weren't done; an attack helicopter returned and fired on the onlookers. Etidal's husband was killed, leaving her with seven children and no one to provide for them. Overnight, the Sinatis became a welfare case -- and loyal to Hamas. The radical Islamist group took the destitute family under its wing.

"My husband was not a Hamas supporter. In fact, he was for Fatah," says Sinati, now a widow. It is cold in her two-room hut; a mentally ill uncle sits in a corner occasionally laughing to himself and pulling his wool blanket over his head. "But without Hamas we wouldn't have survived, and even with their support it's been difficult."

The official pension for the wife of a "martyr" -- a Palestinian killed by the Israeli military -- is €100 every three months. For a large family living in Gaza, this is about enough for one good seafood meal, but is not enough to live on. "So Hamas adopted my children," says Etidal Sinati. The widow receives €15 a month in child support for each child, and all of her children attend a school run by Hamas free of charge. "I voted for the crescent in the January election," says the illiterate Etidal. The crescent moon is Hamas's symbol.

A party for the poor

At first glance Hamas, a party that looks after the poor with its money and charity, appears to be playing a well-known tune on the instrument of populism. On the other hand, every major international aid organization is singing the Islamist group's praises when it comes to the quality of its work. "In the International Crisis Group's 2003 report, the most important American NGOs gave perfect marks to Hamas's work; they couldn't have achieved a better result," says Helga Baumgarten, a lecturer at Birzeit University in Ramallah.

Baumgarten believes that the success of the party, which emerged from the radical Muslim Brotherhood in 1987, is based on two factors: the highly professional work of the group's welfare agencies and Hamas's oft-cited integrity. "In fact, all studies have concluded that Hamas operates without a trace of corruption," says Baumgarten. "This has enabled it to gain the respect of the population over the years."

Nevertheless, Hamas is no moderate party. It sees itself as the spearhead of Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation. Following its surprising election victory in January, the organization refused to renounce armed conflict or to recognize Israel. Its repeated use of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens since its founding has also contributed to Hamas being classified as a terrorist organization in the West -- despite its day-to-day charitable activities.

But it is difficult to say whether Hamas deliberately uses its charitable work to generate sympathy within the population. "Social commitment is not a means to an end; I would not interpret this merely as exploitation," says Baumgarten. And even if it were, parties the world over operate no differently.

Building on faith

Al-Mujamma al-Islami, or the Islamic Center, in southeastern Gaza City is proof positive that Hamas literally builds on faith. The mosque on the ground floor of the newly constructed center has been in operation for weeks, while the center's employees sit between boxes on the fourth floor above the women's gallery in the prayer room. The center, founded in 1973 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin making it the oldest Islamic charity in Gaza, had grown too big for its old headquarters. Its 150 employees just moved in to their new offices on the weekend.

At first the wheelchair-bound Yassin, who founded Hamas in 1987 and was killed in a targeted Israeli missile attack in 2004, managed the organization's funds from the living room of his modest house a few streets away. Today the center has evolved into a giant charitable institution in Gaza, operating 16 kindergartens, 30 Koran schools, and providing thousands of families with money, food and clothing. The center also pays child support for 5,000 orphans. Etidal Sinati also collects aid payment for her seven children here.

Nidal Shabana, the center's director, currently manages an annual budget of about $1 million. Despite his prominent position, Shabana remains a modest man, although a hint of pride for his work trickles through when he talks about the Islamic ping-pong team that recently won the Gaza championships under his tutelage. "Modesty and honesty are principles that are especially valued in Islam," he says. When asked his opinion about the growing strength of Islamist parties in the Arab world -- a phenomenon viewed with great concern in the West -- Shabana becomes circumspect. The behavior of Islamic leaders happens to be exemplary, he says, adding that their hands are clean. In a roundabout way, Shabana is saying that he considers the political leaders in neighboring Arab states to be corrupt and morally weak.

Etidal Sitani with her stepmother on the left and a friend of the family in the middle.
Ulrike Putz

Etidal Sitani with her stepmother on the left and a friend of the family in the middle.

Since the 1970s, the failure of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world -- dominated by ruling families intent on lining their own pocketbooks and bloated, inefficient bureaucracies -- has led to Islamist groups filling a social and political vacuum in the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. The fact that Hamas hasn't received recognition as the sole governing party in the Palestinian Territories is by no means just a local quirk. Resistance to Hezbollah's quest for power up the road in Beirut is similar. These religious fundamentalist organizations are a threat to the region's established regimes; it's not just Israel and its Western allies that are interested in keeping the Islamists in check.

Etidal Sitani is also aware that the organization that has thrown her family a lifeline is facing pressure from within the Palestinian Territories and from abroad. But this has only strengthened Sitani's support for her benefactors. Her eldest son recently tried on his father's uniform. But while the father was a reservist in one of the Fatah Movement's security forces, the son plans to fight for Hamas. "I will not allow him to join the militias just yet. After all, he is only 15," says the mother. "He can do it when he is 20."

A tired Fatah struggles

"RAMALLAH, West Bank - Fatah, once the fiery Palestinian party of kaffiyeh-wearing Yasser Arafat and shadowy guerrilla fighters, today is limping around on a cane, suffering from tired blood.

Routed at the polls, outmaneuvered on the streets, accused of chronic corruption and lacking a unifying agenda, Fatah is struggling today to stay relevant.

Last Saturday, its leader, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, took a gamble to regain the party's momentum and to reverse its declining fortunes by calling for new elections. It is a maneuver that could easily backfire. Already, it has triggered several days of fierce fighting on the streets of Gaza between the gunmen for Fatah and its prime adversary, the Islamist party Hamas. That Abbas would take such a risk is a sign of what a parlous state Fatah is in these days, experts say. Secular, relatively moderate and committed to peaceful coexistence with Israel, Fatah is generally supported these days by the United States and Europe as a partner to bring peace in this part of the Mideast.

Iran-backed Hamas is well-disciplined, clear in its Islamic message, and unwilling to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. Hamas unexpectedly routed Fatah in parliamentary elections in January and, despite a crippling economic boycott, still enjoys a strong following on the streets.

Fatah, meanwhile, is adrift. "Right now, we don't have a strategy, we don't have a plan to deal with the occupation, to deal with Hamas, to deal with Europe or to deal with America," said Ziad Abu Ein, deputy minister for prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, who counts himself, at 47, as a member of the young generation of Fatah long shut out from power. It is time, he says, for new blood.

But for the moment, there is little sign internal change is coming, and one of the reasons is Abbas himself. "He is change-resistant and risk-averse," said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst and former legal adviser to Fatah's parent organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Surrounded by external challenges, including conflict with Israel and a crippling economic boycott imposed by the West and Israel after Hamas entered the government, Abbas has avoided dealing with problems of corruption or the geriatric nature of his party, insiders say.

Fatah's 16-member Central Committee helps define the group's agenda. It has not elected new members in 17 years. Six of its original 22 members have died in the meantime and have not been replaced. The youngest committee member is 64.....

...But inertia and corruption are hardly Fatah's only problems. "If Fatah had been able to deliver a Palestinian state, corruption ten times as bad would have been a third-rate issue," said Mouin Rabbani, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group in Amman, Jordan. But Fatah has not delivered a state and has been badly outmaneuvered by Hamas in its effort to do so. Between the signing of the Oslo accord in 1993 and 2000, Fatah as the dominant party in the Palestinian movement became, in effect, the Palestinian Authority, the governing body for the West Bank and Gaza. In the course of that, experts say, Fatah lost its identity.

Fatah's whole persona up until 1994 was built around its slogan, "Revolution Until Victory." Then it gave up its revolutionary role to enter into negotiations with Israel that were supposed to lead to two states existing side-by-side....

By 2000 and the reoccurrence of the intifada, Fatah the revolutionary party was gone but Fatah the nation-building party had not emerged. "Between 1994 and 2000, the number of Jewish settlements doubled, checkpoints were increased, Jewish roads went up in the territories and Palestine started to shrink," said Buttu. Fatah had nothing to show for its dealings with Israel.

Hamas stood in the wings, according to Buttu, and "was able to say 'I told you negotiations would never work.' Hamas chose then to resist violently and this is very popular with the people." Meanwhile, Fatah continued to try to negotiate with Israel and got nowhere......"

Shiites Remake Baghdad in Their Image

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 — As the United States debates what to do in Iraq, this country’s Shiite majority has been moving toward its own solution: making the capital its own.

Large portions of Baghdad have become Shiite in recent months, as militias press their fight against Sunni militants deeper into the heart of the capital, displacing thousands of Sunni residents. At least 10 neighborhoods that a year ago were mixed Sunni and Shiite are now almost entirely Shiite, according to residents, American and Iraqi military commanders and local officials.

For the first years of the war, Sunni militants were dominant, forcing Shiites out of neighborhoods and systematically killing bakers, barbers and trash collectors, who were often Shiites. But starting in February, after the bombing of a shrine in the city of Samarra, Shiite militias began to strike back, pushing west from their strongholds and redrawing the sectarian map of the capital, home to a quarter of Iraq’s population.

The Shiite-dominated government publicly condemns violence against Sunnis and says it is trying to stop the militias that carry it out. But the attacks have continued unabated, and Sunnis have grown suspicious.

Plans for a new bridge that would bypass a violent Sunni area in the east, and a proposal for land handouts in towns around Baghdad that would bring Shiites into what are now Sunni strongholds underscored these concerns.

Sunni political control in Baghdad is all but nonexistent: Of the 51 members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city’s services, just one is Sunni.

In many ways, the changes are a natural development. Shiites, a majority of Iraq’s population, were locked out of the ruling elite under Saddam Hussein and now have power that matches their numbers.

The danger, voiced by Sunni Arabs, is that an emboldened militant fringe will conduct broader killings without being stopped by the government, or, some fear, with its help. That could, in turn, draw Sunni countries into the fight and lead to a protracted regional war, precisely the outcome that Americans most fear.

“They say they’re against this, but on the ground they do nothing,” said Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, a Sunni. He moved his family to the better-protected Green Zone in October.


The U.S. And The UN

Saturday: Olmert, Abbas to meet in J’lem

"Breaking the ice: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are set to meet in Jerusalem Saturday evening for the first time since they were elected to their respective offices.

The meeting, the first between an Israeli and Palestinian leader in a year-and-a-half, will take place in coming hours, negotiator Saeb Erekat told The Associated Press.

Olmert's office said the meeting would take place at the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem."


Abbas, the Israeli puppet, by agreeing to meet Olmert in Jerusalem is conceding Israel's control and annexation of occupied Jerusalem. Even foreign diplomats avoid such meetings for fear that Israel would use that as legitimizing Israel's annexation. This shows how spineless Baby Chick is.

Pentagon: Militia more dangerous than al Qaeda in Iraq

Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as "the most dangerous accelerant" of the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq for nearly a year, according to a Pentagon report.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias jumped 22 percent from mid-August to mid-November, and Iraqi civilians suffered the bulk of casualties, according to the quarterly report released on Monday.

The average number of attacks reported each week jumped during that period from nearly 800 to almost 1,000, the report said. (Watch how insurgent and sectarian attacks have become a staple of Iraqi civilian life Video)

The two most prominent militias -- the Mehdi Army and the Badr Organization -- are armed wings of Shiite political parties whose support is crucial to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The Mehdi Army in particular "exerts significant influence in Baghdad and the southern provinces of Iraq and on the government of Iraq," and fights periodic battles with Badr supporters, according to the report. The Badr Organization is affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The Pentagon report comes as Robert Gates takes over as defense secretary to replace Donald Rumsfeld, and as President Bush ponders major changes in the nearly 4-year-old war. (Watch what are Gates' chief challenges in Iraq Video)

The number of attacks recorded in September and October were the highest on record, the report found, but it provided no specific figures.

Nearly 70 percent of attacks targeted U.S. and allied troops, "but the overwhelming majority of casualties were suffered by Iraqis," the report concluded. (Full story)

On Tuesday, 53 bullet-riddled bodies were found in Baghdad, and another 12 in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, Interior Ministry sources said. Among the dead in Baghdad was Mutashar al-Sudani, a well-known television actor who was kidnapped on Monday, the sources said.

All are believed to be victims of sectarian violence.

'Terrorist-criminals' executed

Thirteen people convicted of killings, rapes and burning of bodies were hanged Tuesday, the Iraqi prime minister's office announced.

The death sentences were carried out after an "investigation was completed, and their confessions taken, according to judicial procedures," the office said in a statement.

One of those executed "confessed to killing 10 people," and another "confessed to killing four members of one family," the statement said.

A third "could not remember how many people he killed, because they were too many," the statement added.

Sixty-four people -- including women -- have been hanged since the death penalty was reinstated, following Iraq's return to sovereignty in 2004. Another 150 people are on death row awaiting execution or the outcome of their appeal, according to Iraq's Justice Ministry.

An "Islamic Civil War"

Chaos by Design


"The war that Western powers--primarily US, Israel and Britain--began against the Islamic world after September 11, 2001, is about to enter a new more dangerous phase as their early plans for 'changing the map of the Middle East' have begun to unravel with unintended consequences.

Codenamed 'the war against terror,' the imperialist war against the Middle East was fueled primarily by US and Israeli ambitions. Britain's participation is mostly a sideshow. US and Israel have convergent aims in the region. The US seeks to deepen its control over the region's oil. Israel wants to create regional conditions that will allow it to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians......

....The Iraq Study Group has described the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating," and recommended a quick drawdown of US forces. It is unlikely that the President will take that advice. Instead, the US, Israel and Britain have for some time been working on an alternative plan when it appeared that their initial plans were being derailed. The US, Israel and Britain are now working to incite a civil war between Sunnis and Shias across the Middle East. As Jonathan Cook puts it, taking a leaf from Israeli experience in the West Bank and Gaza, they expect to create "controlled chaos" in the entire Islamic world.

The battle lines in this civil war have been drawn. The principal American-Israeli surrogates in this 'Islamic civil war' showed their colors last July when Israel launched devastating air attacks against Lebanese civilian targets in response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah. Almost instantly, Cairo, Riyadh and Amman condemned the Hizbullah action. On the opposite side there is the crescent of resurgent Shia power stretching from Lebanon, through Syria and Iraq, into Iran.....

The determining factor in this war will be the Sunni populations under the thumbs of the Arab potentates. It is doubtful if the anti-Persian and anti-Shia rhetoric of the Arab potentates will succeed in swinging them around to support governments they have long hated, especially now as their alliance with Israel becomes overt......."

Hey Laura: This Is The Progress Your Husband Has Brought to Iraqi Women

From Juan Cole

"Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that on Friday, Baghdad awoke to discover that a horrible crime had been committed. Militiamen kidnapped three coeds from Mustansiriya University, raped them, killed them, and tossed their bodies into a courtyard at al-Adli Medical School in the capital. A woman's organization complained bitterly that the Iraqi government was doing nothing to halt a building crime wave. The organization and the girls' friends among Mustansiriya U. students also blamed the Shiite ayatollahs for lending their support to the Shiite militias. (Mustansiriya University is near to Sadr City and the implication is that the kidnappers were Mahdi Army, attacking Sunni girls).

Likewise, the militias kidnapped a female teacher from Ghazaliya district, raped her, and cast her body in the street in the Shu'la district of Baghdad.

The honor of women is a key value in Iraqi society and the kidnapping and raping and killing of these female students "in the most vile manner" has enormous shock value. Historian of Iran Afsaneh Najmabadi argued that Turkmen kidnappings of Iranian women in 1905 helped weaken the legitimacy of the Iranian state and were an element in the debates of the subsequent constitutional revolution.

A member of the Student Union said that the ability to hold classes at Iraqi universities had been put in doubt and studies might well have to stop. "

Nazzal: Abbas loyalists block entry of money to Palestinians

"Doha - Mohammed Nazzal, the political bureau member of the Hamas Movement, has accused loyalists to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of exerting strenuous efforts to prevent the entry of money sums via the Rafah terminal into Gaza, thus blocking payment of salaries to Palestinian civil servants.

Nazzal, in a statement to Al-Jazeera website on Saturday, said that Abbas loyalists met with Israeli, Egyptian and European officials and agreed on blocking the entry of cash money through the Rafah crossing.

He said that head of the PLO's negotiations department Saeb Uraikat had secured a pledge from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to prevent such money from crossing through Rafah.

The recent developments in the Palestinian lands (Hamas-Fatah clashes) were part of a Palestinian-Arab-international scheme to topple the Hamas-led PA government and to furnish the way before holding early elections, Nazzal elaborated.

He charged former head of the notorious preventive security apparatus and current Fatah MP Mohammed Dahlan of masterminding such a plot in harmony with Israeli and American officials.

The Hamas leader affirmed that his Movement rejects early legislative elections because it targets toppling the PA government, adding that the early elections would not be honest. He explained that honest elections would mean victory of Hamas in both the legislative and presidential race, an option which neither the Hebrew state nor the USA, or even PA presidency, wants.

He opined that the legislative elections of January 2006 would be the first and last honest elections in the PA-run lands because the USA had reached the conviction that any honest elections in the region would bring Islamists to power. "

Iraqi Hopes Dim Through Worst Year of Occupation

by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

"BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (IPS) - Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement, Iraqis have suffered through the worst year in living memory, facing violence, fragmentation and a disintegrated economy.*

A year back Iraqis were promised that 2006 would be the fresh beginning of a, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq. Through an elected parliament and a unity government, they would find peace, and start rebuilding a country torn apart by the U.S.-backed UN sanctions and then the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

But everyone agrees that the situation now is worse than ever. Leaders in Iraq disagree only to the extent they blame one another for the collapse in security that has led to worsened services and living conditions.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, along with many other Shia leaders in the Iraqi government, blames al-Qaeda and "Saddamists" for the degrading situation. Echoing statements by U.S. President George W. Bush, al-Maliki told reporters recently: "Those terrorists hate democracy because that makes them lose power, and all they are doing is killing Iraqi people in order to recapture what they lost after the liberation of Iraq."

Whatever leaders say, people are simply looking back on a hellish year, and fearful of another to come.

"I wish I could flee to any third world country and work in garbage collection rather than stay here and live like a frightened rat," Adel Mohammed Aziz, a teacher from Baghdad told IPS. "We are all living in fear for our lives; death chases us all around.."

The displacement of Iraqis from Iraq is currently the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis, according to the Washington-based group Refugees International which works towards providing humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people......

......A poll conducted by the well-respected group World Public Opinion last month showed that 61 percent of Iraqis support attacks against U.S. forces. The poll found that 83 percent of Iraqis surveyed want the U.S. to withdraw completely next year.

U.S. casualties increased dramatically during the last three months of the year. This year saw at least 812 coalition soldier deaths in Iraq, with December looking to be one of the deadliest months for them, according to the website Iraq Coalition Casualties.

So far, at least 3,193 occupation troops have been killed in Iraq, 2,946 of them from the United States, according to the website. In addition, there have been 46,880 U.S. non-mortal casualties, including non-hostile and medical evacuations.

With no drastic changes imminent to the failed U.S. policy in Iraq, coupled with an Iraqi government that grows more impotent by the day, Iraqis have dim hopes of improvement in 2007."

Santa's Arrival In The Middle East


Banality and barefaced lies

By Robert Fisk
The Independent

"I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?.......

........Needless to say, the American press and television largely ignored the appearance of this eminently sensible book - until the usual Israeli lobbyists began to scream abuse at poor old Jimmy Carter, albeit that he was the architect of the longest lasting peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbour - Egypt - secured with the famous 1978 Camp David accords. The New York Times ("All the News That's Fit to Print", ho! ho!) then felt free to tell its readers that Carter had stirred "furore among Jews" with his use of the word "apartheid". The ex-president replied by mildly (and rightly) pointing out that Israeli lobbyists had produced among US editorial boards a "reluctance to criticise the Israeli government".

Typical of the dirt thrown at Carter was the comment by Michael Kinsley in The New York Times (of course) that Carter "is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa". This was followed by a vicious statement from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who said that the reason Carter gave for writing this book "is this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media. What makes this serious is that he's not just another pundit, and he's not just another analyst. He is a former president of the United States".

But well, yes, that's the point, isn't it? This is no tract by a Harvard professor on the power of the lobby. It's an honourable, honest account by a friend of Israel as well as the Arabs who just happens to be a fine American ex-statesman. Which is why Carter's book is now a best-seller - and applause here, by the way, for the great American public that bought the book instead of believing Mr Foxman.

But in this context, why, I wonder, didn't The New York Times and the other gutless mainstream newspapers in the United States mention Israel's cosy relationship with that very racist apartheid regime in South Africa which Carter is not supposed to mention in his book? Didn't Israel have a wealthy diamond trade with sanctioned, racist South Africa? Didn't Israel have a fruitful and deep military relationship with that racist regime? Am I dreaming, looking-glass-like, when I recall that in April of 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa - one of the architects of this vile Nazi-like system of apartheid - paid a state visit to Israel and was honoured with an official reception from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, war hero Moshe Dayan and future Nobel prize-winner Yitzhak Rabin? This of course, certainly did not become part of the great American debate on Carter's book.......

........The clue to all this nonsense, I discovered, comes at the back of the report where it lists the "experts" consulted by Messrs Baker, Hamilton and the rest. Many of them are pillars of the Brookings Institution and there is Thomas Freedman of The New York Times.........."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Meanwhile in Iraq

Calls for Haditha massacre troops to be tried in Iraqi court: In an interview with the BBC, an Iraqi lawyer said that US soldiers involved in the Haditha massacre should be tried by the Iraqi justice system, indicating that Iraqis have no confidence in US military's court system. Citing light sentences and limited prosecutions in the Abu Ghraib trials, he argues that Iraqis do not expect justice to be delivered in the Haditha trials. He also points out that harsher sentences are delivered for killings of American citizens.

Video: General says Iraq troop boost plan won't work: "Frankly," General Marks says, "I don't think it's going to work with the numbers being suggested. It sounds like it's a considerable amount but, let's be frank, 15 to 30 thousand -- with the size of the mission sets that are required -- I don't think that's going to make a difference."

Iraqi Fugitive Donated to Bush Campaigns: Contributed Before, After Appointed Iraqi Govt. Minister: IraqSlogger has learned that the ex-Iraqi government minister who is the subject of a nationwide manhunt in Iraq contributed to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns before and after being appointed by U.S. authorities as Iraq's minister of electricity.

Premier Wants U.S. Forces to Target Sunni Insurgents: Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has created a two-pronged security plan for Baghdad in which U.S. forces would aggressively target Sunni Arab insurgents instead of Shiite militias. At the same time, Maliki would intensify his efforts to weaken Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and contain his Mahdi Army militia, Iraqi officials said Tuesday.

Rice says Iraq is worth the sacrifice of lives and money: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press on Thursday that Iraq is "worth the investment" in American lives and dollars. The top U.S. diplomat said the United States can win in Iraq, although the war so far has been longer and more difficult than she had expected.

Saudi Royals Snub Bush, Fund Opposition to U.S. Troops: The Saudis are clear about their bottom line: If the United States isn't careful about withdrawing from Iraq, the Sunni kingdom will have no other choice but to arm Iraqi's Sunnis, especially if the Saudi's arch-rival, Iran, which has already destabilized the regional power equilibrium by launching a nuclear program, rushes into a military vacuum left by the Americans.

Iraq Deadliest Conflict for Journalists: CPJ: "Alarming Trend," Most Murdered by Insurgents: Iraq is by far the world's most dangerous country for journalists, with more journalists killed there this year than in any country in a single year on record.

Iraqi Journalists Call on United Nations to Act over Media "Nightmare": Journalists' leaders from Iraq today issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations to take urgent action over the "media nightmare" in the war-torn country that has seen 163 journalists and media staff killed since 2003.

Who Will Pay For Haditha?: With charges expected to be filed Thursday against five to eight Marines accused of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005, it now appears that at least one senior officer will also be charged in the case. According to the group Human Rights First, no civilian official or officer above the rank of major responsible for interrogation and detention practices has ever been charged in connection with the torture or abuse-related death of a detainee in U.S. custody. The Haditha case is somewhat different as it involves an alleged massacre of families in their own homes, but experts say it shares similar themes of accountability.

Brown's first job must be to break free of US shackles: A new prime minister has the opportunity to do what Blair never could - leave Iraq and face the consequences

U.S. Occupation Forces Squad Leader Charged in Killings Of 24 Iraqi Civilians:
Squad leader charged in killings of 24 Iraqi civilians; More Marines expected to be charged.

In case you missed it: Iraqi Girl tells of US Attack in Haditha: Ten-year-old Iman Walid witnessed the killing of seven members of her family in an attack by American marines last November. The interview with Iman was filmed exclusively for ITV News by Ali Hamdani,our Iraqi video diarist.

US casualties in Iraq near 3,000: Deaths today top 2,960; 71 this month alone.

Meanwhile in Palestine

We need bridges not walls in Israel-Palestine, say UK church leaders: The Israeli separation wall is "a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart", the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said today in Bethlehem - calling for bridges rather than barriers to deal with problems of violence and division. Each of the British church leaders – who will meet with Christians, Muslims and Jews on their trip – expressed concern about the effect of the wall on the people of Bethlehem and surrounding towns.

Be'lin Weekly Demonstration Against Illegal Israeli Seperation Wall: Today, like the past 2 years, the demonstrations in Be'lin started after Friday prayers with participants including residents of the village, Internationals and Israeli activists participating. This week there was a high percentage of International demonstrators, in which the majority came from the countries of Poland and Spain. During the protest the Israeli army surrounded the village of Be'lin, where they clashed with local youth using tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets.

Mass goers to hear of Bethlehem plight: Congregations at Catholic churches will be told about the plight of those living in the West Bank town of Bethlehem at Christmas Mass. The Irish Bishop's Conference (IBC) circulated a Christmas statement to priests saying that the birthplace of Jesus has been transformed from a "bustling cultural and spiritual centre" to "a big prison".

Father of 14-year-old girl killed by IDF released on bail to mourn: Nasser Abd al-Qadr, whose 14-year-old daughter was shot dead by Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday, was released from lock-up at Abu-Kabir on bail on Friday. MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) paid Abd al-Qadr's NIS 10,000 bail, after earlier it seemed as though no guarantors would be found in time for him to reach the mourning period. Tibi put his name down as Abd al-Qadr's guarantor, but police refused to allow Abd al-Qadr to leave Abu-Kabir on his own and meet with reporters. Instead, they insisted on driving Abd al-Qadr to Taibeh crossing in an armored vehicle.

At least nine hurt in clashes between Hamas, Fatah in Nablus: Gunmen loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, wounding at least nine people, hospital officials and witnesses said. At least one of the wounded was said to be in very serious condition.

Gaza truce holds for third day despite clash: A civilian died overnight in Gaza in clashes between Hamas and a powerful local clan, but otherwise a truce aimed at halting violence between rival Palestinian factions held for a third day.

IDF didn't notice family returned to Hebron home: A family that was evacuated from Hebron's wholesale market a year ago secretly returned about four months ago, but was discovered only recently by the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration. As a result, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decided it cannot be evacuated via the fast-track method used to evacuate squatters within the first 30 days.

Haniyya: “We are ready to start talks on unity government”: Haniyya called on the Palestinian factions and armed groups to have more self restraint and hold their responsibilities in maintaining the national unity and void all causes of internal clashes. He added that the government and several specialized security devices are closely following and investigating the incidents that caused the renewed clashes between Fateh and Hamas gunmen over the last two days.

UN: Palestinians trying to flee Iraq for Syria stuck at border: Syrian authorities allowed more than 280 Palestinians stranded for two months on the Iraq-Jordan border to enter its territory in what Syria said was a "humanitarian" gesture. But the Syrian Foreign Ministry announced later it would not allow more Palestinians coming from Iraq to enter its territory, where more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees already live.

Dispute over Israeli gestures could delay PM-Abbas meeting: Olmert and Abbas aides met Thursday to discuss the gestures the Palestinians expect, which relate to freeing Palestinian prisoners and transferring tax funds, in further preparatory talks ahead of the leaders' planned meeting. While Palestinian officials said they believe the Olmert-Abbas meeting will take place in Jerusalem this coming Monday, the Prime Minister's Office said no date for the meeting will be set until the preparatory talks are brought to a successful conclusion.

EU: PA will end cash "smuggling" by Hamas in order to further starve the Palestinian people: The European Union's chief monitor at the Rafah crossing said yesterday that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to put an end to Hamas' fund smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. At a news conference at the EU mission in Ashkelon, Captain Pietro Pistolese said that anyone who objects to the agreement would not be allowed to cross through the Rafah crossing.

Bush signs law banning aid to Hamas government: Secondly, that the Hamas-controlled PA has made "demonstrable progress" toward purging individuals with ties to terrorism from its security services, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure with its jurisdiction, confiscating unauthorized weapons, arresting and bringing terrorists to justice, destroying unauthorized arms factories, thwarting and preempting terrorist attacks, and fully cooperating with Israel's security services.

Israelis endorse facists: Ratings of Israel's right surge: Israel's main right-wing opposition party, Likud, has seen its ratings surge on the back of disappointment with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition and would win an election should one be held now, according to an opinion poll.

Jordanian king: Progress on peace critical in 2007: “2007 will be a very crucial year and if we do not see progress in the next six or seven months, I think that we will never arrive at our objective. The consequences will be disastrous for us all, including for Israel”, he added.

To live and let live, among the olive groves: For the 39th consecutive year, Palestinian Christians in towns and villages like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Aboud will celebrate Christmas under Israeli military occupation. In Aboud, our hardships increased in October 2005, when the Israeli military issued confiscation orders to seize land owned by village residents to build Israel's security barrier, or wall. The orders were given without consultation with the land owners, contradicting what is expected from a democratic government.

Cease-fire number 2: Two armed men stood next to the checkpoint and prevented people from continuing south from there. People said that one of them, who was masked, was actually from Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and not from Force 17. "No passage allowed," he said. We're journalists, Mazen lied. We need to get around, and anyway, why isn't it allowed? Things have calmed down. The masked man answered: "We still don't believe the Hamas people. They harbor a lot of hostility toward us and so we have to stay here."

End the policy of isolation: But the U.S. policy of isolation had already spilled over into the Palestinian arena. As just one more way of imposing his foreign policy in the Middle East, Bush called for a boycott of Hamas once the movement won democratic parliamentary elections last January. The United States had been an active advocate of democratic elections during the rule of the late president Yasser Arafat, but when the time came the results proved not to be to America's liking.

First for Israeli-Arabs: Campaign against underage marriage: The campaign aims to prevent mother and fathers from marrying off their underage daughters. The campaign includes testimony from doctors who explain the damage that arises from pregnancy at an early age, and attempts to create a discussion on the status of girls who are still in school by directly addressing their parents.

Israel 'poisoning the Palestinians':
"Analyses carried out in laboratories outside Palestine have shown that Israel has had recourse to banned chemical weapons and depleted uranium" in the territories, said environment minister Yussef Abu Sofia in Algiers.

Get Carter:
Jimmy Carter, by publishing his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, walked straight into the buzz saw that is the Israel lobby.

Bush signs law to starve Palestinians

Bush signs PATA
President Bush signed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.

Passed by the U.S. Congress in its final hours earlier this month, the act bans assistance to the Palestinian Authority as long as the Hamas terrorist group leads it and as long as Hamas does not renounce terrorism or recognize Israel.

Bush signed the act Thursday, a day before it was due to lapse.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee had lobbied strongly for the act; some dovish pro-Israel groups had opposed it as too restrictive.

The act allows an exception for aid to the P.A. president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who was elected separately.

Bush´s signing of the statement reiterates the traditional presidential prerogative to conduct foreign policy.

إما مقاومة يتبعها قمع... أو مساومة يتبعها بيع

Another Great Article By Dr. Adel Samara From Ramallah (in Arabic)

إما مقاومة يتبعها قمع... أو مساومة يتبعها بيع
د. عادل سمارة
رام الله المحتلة

فلتان رسمي في الاراضي المحتلة، مقدمات لمذبحة محلية تقودها طبقة أغنياء وقطط سمان وتُذبح فيها طبقة فقراء ومستضعفين ذوي وعي مشوه . ولكن، هل هي بأحندة فلسطينية بحتة، هل هي صراع على السلطة، وهل هناك سلطة حقيقية، واقتصاد حقيقي؟ هذا ما يمكن أن يجيب عليه ببلاغة المقتتلون ودافعوهم للقتال ودافعو دافعيهم والدافعون لدافعيهم.
قد تكون عبارة الوحدة الوطنية من أكثر الشعارات التي طرحها الفلسطينيون او استخدموها. وربما كان واضحاً لكل ذي عقل أن هذا ليس ممكناً، وليس اليوم، بل طوال فترة حياة منظمة التحرير التي لم تكن في يوم من حياتها جبهة وطنية، بل جبهة جبهات. فإذا كان هذا هو الوضع قبيل التسوية فهل يمكن ان يتم خلال التسوية؟ لم يتم خلال المقاومة، فهل يتم بعد المقاومة؟ لم يتم حين كان يرى كل فلسطيني ان الولايات المتحدة عدو قضيته، فهل يتم بعد أن اصبحت الولايات المتحدة هي التي تقود الفلسطينيين سياسياً وبعد أن اصبحت للمخابرات الأميركية مكاتب في الضفة الغربية وغزة؟ وبعد أن دربت هذه المخابرات ومخابرات عربية أجهزة قمع بعشرات الآلاف؟
لم يصل الفلسطينيون إلى استسهال إسالة الدم بين يوم وليلة، ولم يكن الدم الفلسطيني مقدساً كما يتشدق الجميع، فقد حصل ذلك منذ زمن ولا زال. فليس هناك برنامجا وطنيا فلسطينيا بل برامج تنظيمية ووصل كل برنامج لإقناع حاملية بالاشتباك مع الآخر بل ومع كل برنامج. ولعل أكثر الأمور خلافية بين الفلسطينيين هو برنامج "القرار الوطني المستقل"، فقد تمكنت قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية منذ قرابة عقدين من غسيل أدمغة الكثيرين ومن شراء آخرين أكثر، لصالح شعار القرار الوطني المستقل، وهو الترجمة الخطيرة والمبكرة للدولة الوطنية المزعومة حالياً. ويجد هذا الشعار أولى طبعاته في "السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية" منذ فترة حرب أكتوبر 1973، وتفاعلاتها التسووية. وكل هذه التسميات هي باتجاه فك القضية الفلسطينية عن العمق العربي، مما يعطي قوة دفع خطيرة للقطريين والإقليميين العرب لإرسال ورقة "الطلاق" إلى الفلسطينيين. أليس هذا عجيباً؟
وكانت حرب أكتوبر، سواء هي تحريكية من قبل النظام، وغير تحريكية من قبل المقاتلين وقادة في الجيوش، إلا أنها انتهت تحريكية بامتياز سواء على صعيدي النفط ومؤتمر جنيف لتنتهي بمؤتمر الرباط الذي اعتبر القضية الفلسطينية "فلسطينية" فقط، وهو المبرر "الموضوعي" لإخراج مصر من المعركة طالما أن اصحاب القضية إضطلعوا بها ولاحقا ذهاب مصر إلى كامب ديفيد.
ثم كان الخروج من لبنان إلى تونس، وهو الأمر الذي جرى تزيينه كانتصار. وظل تحت هذا الغطاء، إلى أن كشف حزب الله والمقاومة اللبنانية بأن الانتصار ممكن والصمود ممكن والتحرير ممكن، وكأن ذلك الخروج كان نعمة للبنان. وتأكد الأمر أكثر في حرب تموز/آب لهذا العام. بقول آخر، أثبتت المقاومة اللبنانية وخاصة حزب الله، أن مبدأ "إضرب واهرب" مشروع في حرب العصابات، ولكن ليس "لا تضرب... وارحل". فالانظمة والجيوش النظامية ترحل ، نعم.
ومن تونس بدأت ولادة أوسلو. سواء من حيث انتهاء الروح القتالية للقيادة، وتبعثر المقاتلين في المنافي ليفقدوا الأمل في معاودة الدور النضالي، فاي مكان هو الذي سوف يسمح بتجمعهم ثانية على الحدود؟ ولم يكن هناك ما يمكن أن يجمعهم في مكان سوى التسوية. وهو الأمر الذي تم، ولكن بتحويل المقاتلين إلى شرطة ومخابرات وعساكر على الطريقة المالوفة في الأنطمة العربية أي باعتقالهم في أوسلو- ستان. هل يتحول الناس هكذا؟ طبقاً لما نراه...نعم!

في "رحاب" التسوية"
رغم جاهزية الوضع العربي لابتلاع التسوية، والغدر بالانتفاضة، كان لا بد من تمهيد المنطقة تماماً لتمرير التسوية. لذا، لم يعقد مؤتمر مدريد إلا بعد تدمير قوة العراق 1991، وتفكيك اليمن الجنوبي، وإغراق الجزائر في معركة مع الديمقراطية في ثوب المعركة مع الإسلام السياسي. ورغم ان هذه البؤر لم تكن من القوة بما يمنع التسوية، ولكن الراسمالية المعولمة، على عادتها ودقة ما تزعمه "بالأخلاق البروتستانتية" تريد الأمور جاهزة بالتاكيد. وقد يكون هناك معنى كبيراً لما قاله بيكر (وزير خارجية أميركا آنذاك، ومهندس تقرير بيكر-هاملتون اليوم) لممثلي فصائل منظمة التحرير في القدس بعد ضرب العراق: "هزمناكم في العراق وهنا تفعلون ما نريد"! رفعت الأقلام وجفت الصحف. فالأمور مترابطة أكثر مما يراها اهلها.
وكان اتفاق أوسلو، وإقامة سلطة الحكم الذاتي وإجراء الإنتخابات الأولى، التي رفضت منظمات كثيرة المشاركة بها على أرضية رفض أوسلو. وكان ذلك صحيحاً، وكانت للسلطة ممارساتها سواء بالفساد والمحسوبيات وانعدام التنمية والأمن الشخصي، وتفكيك القيم...الخ. وفي غمرة حصول هذه كلها، قررت الولايات المتحدة والكيان الذهاب إلى المرحلة الثانية من أوسلو.

أوسلو في طور أعلى:
دار نقاش طويل ولا يزال بين الفلسطينيين والعرب حينما بدات الدعوة الأميركية والتحضيرات لإجراء انتخابات جديدة في أراضي الحكم الذاتي. وقد حسمت معظم القوى في ساحة الحكم الذاتي باتجاه المشاركة في هذه الانتخابات، ضاربة عرض الحائط بتأثير هذه المشاركة على الشارع العربي، وكون المشاركة في النهاية تصب في طاحونة الدولة "القطرية-الوطنية" دون ان يتأكدوا أو يثبتوا أن " الربح من هذه المشاركة" اعلى من الخسارة.
بالنسبة للقوى التي شاركت في الانتخابات الأولى، فقد اعتقدت بأن مشاركة الرافضين مثابة قوة دفع لها لأنه إثبات على صحة أطروحاتها، سواء في التسوية او المشاركة في الانتخابات. كما استفادت من ذلك الإتجاهات اللبرالية ومنظمات الأنجزة التي هي جوهرياً اميركية بامتياز.
أما القوى التي قررت المشاركة هذه المرة، حماس بشكل اساسي والشعبية والديمقراطية، فزعمت أن هذه الانتخابات لا تتم في ظل أوسلو لأن "أوسلو انتهى". هل هو اقتناع، أم إقناع للذات، أم شعور بالقدرة على اقتلاع اوسلو؟ لا ندري بعد. ولا شك انه كان للنظام المصري دور في ذلك، حيث وصل المشاركون الجدد للقول بأنهم يشتركون "على أرضية اتفاق القاهرة".
بعض ما قيل من طرف حركة حماس، بأن حماس لا تريد استلام الحكومة فيما لو حصلت على أكثرية في مجلس الحكم الذاتي، وهو أمر كان بالإمكان تجاوزه بالطلب من أعضاء من حماس بحجب الثقة عن حكومة قد تُكلف حماس بتشكيلها، هذا إذا لم تعتذر حماس عن مجرد محاولة تشكيل الحكومة.
كانت الانتخابات مفاجئة للجميع كما يبدو، باستثناء نظرية المؤامرة التي تقول: "ليس شرطاً أن تكون حماس قد حصلت على كل هذا. فلماذا لا يكون تزويرا ما قد حصل لتوريط حماس، ومن ثم تصفية القضية باسرها حين يعترف الجميع بالكيان، لا ندري. قد يبدو هذا غريباً، وما اكثر الغرائب في هذه الساحة! فقد اصيبت قيادات فتح بالصدمة، معتبرة أن الناخب قد خذلها. وحتى الآن لا يُقر هؤلاء بأن الناخب قد عاقب هذه الحركة على الفساد والتجاوزات من خلال ثورة سلبية.
وبغض النظر عن تعدد التحليلات، فقد دخلت المناطق المحتلة مرحلة جديدة، هذه المرة. مرحلة أخرى في تصفية القضية الفلسطينية وليست مرحلة أخرى في بناء "الدولة-الوطنية الفلسطينية". فقد وقف العالم الرسمي هذه المرة بوضوح لا سابق له لصالح الكيان الصهيوني. فبعد ان كانت الأمم المتحدة تشترط عضوية الكيان بتطبيق مقررات الأمم المتحدة وخاصة حق العودة، فإذا بالرباعية الدولية، ومختلف دول الغرب وحتى دول عربية تطالب حركة حماس بالاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني. وهذه المرة الأولى التي ينقلب فيها الأمر إلى هذا الحد. وكأن سلطة الحكم الذاتي هي تبرع من الكيان بارض لهذه السلطة وبالتالي عليها الإعتراف والإمتنان لهذا المحسن الكريم. بغير هذا لا يوجد مبرر لهذا الطلب الفظيع والوقح بما لا يقاس من قبل الرباعية الدولية.

إحالة داخلية للصراع
ما أن تسلمت حماس الحكومة حتى قررت أميركا وإسرائيل فرض المقاطعة على الشعب الفلسطيني، طالما أن نتائج "العرس" الديمقراطي لم تكن كما طُلب أو تُوقع. اختفت مظاهر الابتهاج المحلي، والإطراء المزيف الخارجي، والاحتفال بإشراف الرئيس الأميركي السابق كارتر، المؤمن من جهة، وصاحب قرار "عقيدة كارتر بتجهيز جيش اميركي سريع التدخل لاحتلال النفط مستفيداً من قرار إقامة الجسر الجوي الذي اقامته أميركا لخدمة إسرائيل في حرب اكتوبر، بمعنى، لماذا لا تكون القوى هناك! وها هي اليوم هناك، وهناك جداً.
واعتقد البعض ان الرسمي العربي استسلم لهذه الحرب مغفلين أن الأنظمة العربية شريك في الهجمة. وقد تكون المفاجئة ان الطرف الذي وضعت حماس إكليل الغار الديمقراطي على راسه، اي رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية هو الذي سمح بتمرير الحصار حيث قبل تحويل المساعدات الأجنبية إلى مؤسسة الرئاسة، وهو الأمر الذي أخطأت فيه حكومة حماس مبكراً بقبولها بذلك، ربما لأنها اعتقدت بأن الحصار مؤقتاً، حيث قبلت بأن تمر المساعدات إلى الرئيس ليحولها هو إلى صندوق الحكومة. لكن رئيس السلطة والمانحين لم يسمحوا للأمر أن يمر بهذه السهولة، ولن يفعلوا ولن يعاتبهم أحد.
كان يجب ان لا يقبل الرئيس بتحويل المساعدات إلى صندوقه، وكان يجب ان لا تقبل حماس هذا التحويل كذلك. هل كان الرئيس والحكومة يعرفان بأن قرار وقف المساعدات جدي إلى هذا الحد؟ هذا سؤال إليهما.
لعل هذا السؤال يعيدنا إلى الجدال ما قبل الانتخابات. فقد كان واضحاً للكثيرين، ومنهم كاتب هذه السطور بأن الاحتلال قادر على "منع الأكسجين" عن حكومة لا تعترف به. هذا ما قيل بالحرف الواحد. وهكذا كان. فقد سرق الاحتلال مقتطعات الضريبة الفلسطينية، وحول الغربيون مساعداتهم إلى صندوق الرئاسة الفلسطينية، وفعل العرب الرسميون نفس الفعلة، واصبح الموظفون تحت رحمة خطة المانحين بعدم دفع الرواتب إلى أن يقوموا "بالتمرد" على حماس. وهكذا، توقفت الرواتب، ليتم دفع البعض منها (40-60%)، وانكمش السوق، واشتبك الناس ببعضهم بين دائن ومدين، ثم امتد الأمر إلى إضراب تدميري بكافة المعاني، فتوقفت الدراسة، ومات كثيرون على ابواب المستشفيات المضربة، وسرق المحتالون شيكات البسطاء، وتوقف دفع فواتير الماء والكهرباء. وفي الوقت نفسه، لم يتم تقديم أي من الفاسدين للقضاء مع أن ما سرقوه كان كاف لدفع رواتب الموظفين!
اذن، نحن حقا في الطور الأعلى لأوسلو. فإما اعتراف الجميع بالكيان الصهيوني، أو استمرار الحصار المفتوح والمغطى بالعالم الرسمي بأجمعه الذي اصبح يرى العدوان من جانب حماس، وتحديداً من جانب الشعب الذي انتخبها ولذا فمعاقبة الشعب صحيحة ومبررة.
لكن صمود الناس، أو سلبيتهم تجاه الإشكالات الداخلية لم تعجب من خططوا للحصار. فالشارع الذي لم يحتج على الفساد والمحسوبيات وحتى على أوسلو نفسها، لن يحتج على حصار مقصود به تصفية القضية. وهذا دفع النظام السابق، "الجمهورية الأولى" لتصعيد التحرك الإنقلابي التدريجي ضد "الجمهورية الثانية" إلى حافة الانقلاب الفعلي .
وهكذا، كان خطاب رئيس سلطة الحكم الذاتي يوم 16-12 -2006. فقد تحدث الرجل كقائد حزب ضد حزب آخر، ولم يكن في خطابه ما يوحي بشعور أنه رئيس سلطة للجميع أو على الجميع. ولم ينتقد أحداً ممن فرضوا الحصار، وجوعوا العباد، بل كان هجومه على حركة حماس وحكومتها، مما جعل نهاية الخطاب معروفة وهي إجراء انتخابات جديدة لمجلس الحكم الذاتي ورئاسته، أو قبول حماس بحكومة وحدة وطنية.
ودخل هو كما دخل كثيرون في فنيات "دستورية" لسلطة لا هي دولة وليس لها سوى قانون اساسي، مما يؤكد بأن المسألة هي انقلاب كما يريد الذين صنعوا اوسلو. فلم يعد خافياً على أحد أن اوسلو مشروع سلطة صنعتها أمريكا والكيان، وأن من يريد الجلوس في هذا المحفل يجب أن يقوم بما يريدون، ولا مجال لغير هذا. بل لا مجال حتى لإلغاء هذه السلطة. فلم يقيمها هؤلاء ليسقطوها ويخسروا ما كسبوه بوجودها. لعلها معادلة واضحة. وهذا ما أكدنا عليه قبل الانتخابات وبعدها سواء في هذه المجلة وما أكده موقف الجهاد الإسلامي والتيار القومي العربي.
مرة أخرى، فإن الحكم الذاتي ليس أكثر من قيام الحكومة المركزية في تل ابيب بإعطاء حزب ما اسمه "منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية" إذن عمل في منطقة منحتها تلك الحكومة حكماً ذاتياً. وعليه، بوسع هذه الحكومة وقف الترخيص إذا تغيرت قواعد اللعبة. من يقرأ خطاب رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية يفهم هذا جيداً. هذا ناهيك عن أن هذه السلطة بمباركة أميركية ورسمية عربية.

هل كان دخول حماس صحيحاً؟
يمكننا القول أن قيادة حركة حماس توصلت إلى الاستنتاج قبيل الانتخابات، بأن هناك حدوداً لفعالية المقاومة، وأنها كآية ظاهرة اجتماعية تمر بصعود وهبوط، وليس شرطا ان تنتهي، بل يمكن ان تتحول من مستوى او لون إلى آخر. فبعد أن حققت حماس شعبية عالية عبر المقاومة، ربما توصلت إلى أنها ليست قادرة على مواصلة المقاومة بنفس الوتيرة، علاوة على صعوبة دخول مناطق 1948. وعليه، قررت استثمار هذا الرصيد في الانتخابات.
هل توقعت حماس ان يكون رد الطرف المعادي جدياً إلى هذا الحد، لا ندري. وهل توقعت حماس أن بوسعها الجمع ما بين المقاومة والسلطة المساومة، لا ندري ايضاً، وهل توقعت أنها سوف تحول السلطة العلنية إلى سلطة مقاومة؟ في هذا المستوى، نعتقد أنه لا يمكن.
قد يكون هذا ممكناً حينما يكون هناك شبراً محرراً ومفتوح الأبواب. وهذا غير موجود، أو حينما تكون هناك إمكانات الحد الأدنى للاعتماد على الذات، وهذا غير موجود. بل إن اعتماد السلطة على الخارج كان من قرار وجودها نفسه إلى كوب الحليب لطفل الرضاعة. وهذا ما جعل التساؤل عن مبرر وجودها مشروعاً جداً. يمكن قبول سلطة فقيرة ولكن قادرة على التحرك مع الجيران، أما سلطة حبيسة وفقيرة ولصالح عدو من هذا الطراز، فهذه من عجائب الدنيا. فهل يمكن لبلد اعتاد الاستهلاكية العالية بما يفوق دخله، سواء على صعيد الأسرة أو الحكومة، هل يمكن له أن يواجه حصاراً معاديا.

واليوم ...ماذا بعد؟
لقد وظف رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية كل خطاب التسوية والاعتراف والحصار والتجويع لتغيير حكومة عدم الاعتراف. فملخص قوله: "لا مكان هنا لمن لا يعترف بإسرائيل". فهل تفعل حماس ذلك؟ بعبارة اخرى اعتبر رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية أن حكومة الوحدة الوطنية اصبحت وراء ظهره، رغم أنه أبقى الباب موارباً فيما يخصها.
فإذا كانت قوة حزب الله في المواجهة الميدانية، فإن قوة المقاومة الفلسطينية هي في مجرد وجودها، وخطورتها في مجرد مساومتها. بمعنى أن الدور الفلسطيني في الممانعة والمقاومة العربية هو معنوي مبدئي أكثر مما هو بغزارة اطلاق النار. لذا، يجب اقتلاع هذه الحكومة وتلك الحركة وكل من هو مثلهما. وعليه، فالحديث عن حكومة الوحدة الوطنية بلا معنى طالما الوضع على هذا النحو.
لقد وصل الحديث عن حكومة الوحدة الوطنية مستوى الثرثرة عن قداسة الدم الفلسطيني. ومع ذلك تتواصل الدعوات للحوار الوطني وكأن هناك بوصة واحدة لم يتم النقاش عليها والاختلاف فيها. لا شك ان حكومة الوحدة الوطنية أمنية الأكثرية الشعبية، ولكن من يسمع لها؟ للأكثرية الشعبية برنامج واحد ينقسم إلى درجتين:
الدرجة الأولى: الاشتداد، بمعنى العمل المسلح الفعال، والامتداد بمعنى عدم التوقف حتى لو تراجع الكفاح المسلح، إنما المهم عدم توقفها. وربما يجوز القول انها تنقسم بين الممانعة والمقاومة، لكنها لا تتوقف ولا تنتهي إلى التفريط.
والدرجة الثانية: هي حق العودة الذي لا يمكن انجازه بمعزل عن المقاومة والممانعة.
ومن هنا، فإن مشروع دولة في الضفة والقطاع، وسلطة "وطنية" بالطريقة التي تم الحديث عنها وتم تطبيقها إنما هي التفاف على حق العودة. لا مناص من التأكيد على هذا الأمر، مهما كانت درجة البلاغة في إخراجه.
قد يكون لإنجاز دولة في اية بقعة معنى إذا جرى تحرير اي جزء. لكن هذا لم يحصل. ومن هنا أدخلت القضية في هذه المساومة كما لو كانت انتصاراً وتحريراً لجزء من الأرض. في حين انها ليست سوى صلاحيات إدارية ومالية ومنفعية على حساب كل الأرض. ومن يقرأ صلاحيات السلطة التي تحدث عنها رئيسها عباس يوم 16-12-2006، يدرك أن لا سيادة ولا حقوق ولا كرامة.

إذن، فالسلطة الفلسطينية هي مجرد صناعة من أصحاب القرار، القرار لفلسطين وليس القرار الفلسطيني، أي الأطراف المعادية بمجموعها. فهل يجدر التمسك بها؟ والاقتتال عليها؟ هل يمكن تغيير جوهرها لتصبح سلطة حقيقية؟ هل يمكن نقلها إلى مستوى السيادة على "أرض" على المعابر، هل يمكن رفع صلاحياتها كي تدخل بضعة دراهم ؟ كل هذا لا. إذن ما دورها؟ أليست اداة لتركيز الوهم ووصوله إلى الوهن السياسي والوطني؟
لكن هذه السلطة بالنسبة للمستفيدين منها مكسباً لا يمكن التفريط به والخروج عليه، بل المطلوب بالنسبة لهم هو إدخال الآخرين في هذا المشروع.
هناك تمترس متبادل إذن، لكل من المقاومة والمساومة. كلاهما واضح.
على هذا الأساس، ربما يكون الممكن في هذه الفترة أمر آخر. أن تطرح حماس رؤيتها لحكومة وحدة وطنية مقاومة، وهو ما سيرفضه رئيس السلطة. وعندها تقوم حماس بنشر بيان واضح تشرح فيه لماذا ذهبت إلى الانتخابات، وما الذي واجهها، وما الذي عرض عليها، ومن ثم تستقيل الحكومة وتكتفي مؤقتاً بالمجلس التشريعي.
وقد تفض الطابق كلياً مؤكدة أن لا مجال قط للمشاركة في عملية انتخابات مقصود بها تشكيل مجلس وحكومة كما تريدهما أميركا وحلفاؤها. وأن تدعو الشعب إلى عدم المشاركة في اية انتخابات تحت الإحتلال. وعندها ستدخل الانتخابات قوى المساومة، وسترتفع حصة اللبراليين والأنجزة (فريق أميركا). وهذا جميل. فليأخذ هؤلاء مقاعد في مجلس تقاطعه المقاومة. وعندها ليذهب من يريد إلى التصفية. بعبارة أخرى، فإن اية مشاركة لمن يتمسكون بحق العودة هو تقديم تبرير للتسوية.

لكن هذا سيعيد حماس إلى المربع الأول، ليس فقط مربع المقاومة، ولكن ايضاً مربع التهديد بالقمع باعتبارها كما يزعمون سلفية إرهابية...الخ.
في حالة كهذه، يعود النضال الوطني كما لو كان في ظل نظام حكم عربي، منظمات سرية تمارس الكفاح المسلح ما أمكنها ذلك، ونظام حكم قمعي عسكريتاري معتدل غربياً، يعتبر المقاومة اعتداء على دولة جوار. مهما يكن من أمر، فهذا هو الوضع، إلى أن تتكون القوى القادرة على تغييره.
يرى البعض أن ما يدور في الأرض المحتلة اليوم هو جزء من صراع معسكري الممانعة والتسوية على صعيد عربي بل إقليمي وربما عالمي. وهذا صحيح، ولكنه لا يغير من حقيقة الأمر شيئاً بأن السباق المحموم بين المعسكرين، يحتم الحسم في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة. فإما مع التسوية وفلوسها، وإما مع الممانعة وحماية حق وطني، والمساهمة في مصير أمة

A Hamas supporter chants slogans during a rally marking the 19th anniversary of the founding of the group in the West Bank city of Nablus , Friday, Dec. 22, 2006.(AP Photo)

Abbas' U.S.-Trained Thugs Take Over The Streets In The Northern West Bank City of Nablus After Preventing Hamas Supporters From Holding A Rally And Firing On Them; Nine Were Wounded.(AFP photo)

Abu Marzouk: Israel to supply Abbas with armored vehicles to overthrow government

"Damascus – Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said that his movement has evidence that Israel will supply President Mahmoud Abbas with armored vehicles fitted with 14.5 mm machine guns to be used against the Palestinian people.

Dr. Abu Marzouk, further remarked that there were parties who are seeking military action to overthrow the Palestinian elected government.

He added that his movement has reliable information that the Israeli agreed to supply Abbas' presidential guards with armored vehicles fitted with 14.5 mm machine guns.

He also pointed out that Israel agreed to the deployment of the 3000 strong, Jordan based, Badr force in the Gaza Strip to match the power of Hamas warning that if Abbas resorts to undemocratic options it will bring chaos to the streets.

He emphasized that his movement will do all in its power to prevent a civil war even if this proves to be costly to the movement and called upon wise people in Fatah and the President to steer away from actions that could lead to confrontations.

He also said that all attempts to overthrow the government have failed that is why they are resorting now to security chaos in the street, adding that if the people were unhappy with Hamas they would have demonstrated against its government for having sanctions imposed on them, but the people know that the US and Israel are imposing these sanctions to get Hamas to compromise their rights that is why they remain faithful to Hamas.

Finally he said: "We will not submit to blackmail and pressure and we will continue to advocate a national unity government." "

Palestinians have become targets in Iraq's chaos

By Hannah Allam
McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - For half an hour last week, mortar rounds rained down on Baghdad's largest Palestinian enclave. Neither Iraqi police at a station nearby nor U.S. troops at a base adjacent to the neighborhood responded.

At the end of the attack, the Palestinians counted their losses: six dead and 29 injured, including a repairman next to the compound's generator, two neighborhood boys with their heads and stomachs split open in the billiards hall, and the bean-seller beside his pushcart who screamed "Save me!" before he died.

Most heartbreaking, survivors said, were the corpses of 14-year-old Noura Mohamed, who was decapitated while standing in her garden, and 13-year-old A'isha Ahmed, who was hit by the last mortar of the evening as she stood on a balcony to check on her brother and father as they helped the wounded.

It was the bloodiest assault so far in what has become a long stream of attacks on Palestinians, whose community has been here since the establishment of Israel in 1948 but who've never been granted Iraqi citizenship.

The United Nations refugee agency condemned the barrage, which it blamed on Shiite Muslim militiamen of the Mahdi Army, and blasted U.S. and Iraqi troops for failing to protect the Palestinians.

Iraqi officials shrugged off the incident, saying everyone in Iraq is a target and that Palestinians should approach the Iraqi interior ministry - which is widely infiltrated by Shiite militias - instead of complaining to aid agencies.

After days of silence, the U.S. military issued a terse statement on Wednesday saying soldiers had observed mortars in the vicinity on Dec. 13 but received "no reports of attacks on the al Baladiyat neighborhood that day." The statement said the military had no information "that suggests there is a coordinated campaign or effort against this particular neighborhood."

There's little doubt, however, that Palestinians have become targets in Iraq's civil war. U.N. and Iraqi officials and Palestinian residents have documented at least 17 attacks or serious threats against Palestinians in the past three months; that figure is believed to be a fraction of the actual number of incidents.

The attacks include kidnappings, mortar barrages, drive-by shootings and Palestinians forced from their homes. Palestinians and U.N. aid officials say Shiite militias are behind most of the attacks.

"Even Israel didn't do this to us," said Thamer Asad Malhem, a Palestinian who helped to transport the dead and wounded on Dec. 13 when only two ambulances from a Sunni-run hospital showed up.

Malhem comes from an artistic family: He's an actor, his brother Amer is an accordion player, and another brother is a pianist. Together, they used to perform at weddings for Iraqis and Palestinians. The brothers were born in Iraq, the offspring of parents who arrived here after they were driven from their homes in Haifa as the state of Israel emerged.

The Malhems grew up saddled with the deep-rooted stereotype of Palestinians as the beneficiaries of Saddam Hussein, who used to offer money to the families of suicide bombers and who fired 39 missiles at Tel Aviv in the 1991 Gulf War.

But Palestinians in Iraq found little help in their host country, Malhem said.

They were promised free shelter, but got shoddy government-built tenements such as the dreary towers in Baladiyat, where at least four families share each two- or three-bedroom apartment. Palestinians were never allowed Iraqi citizenship and were banned from buying houses or apartments, registering personal vehicles, purchasing shops or opening bank accounts. University tuition for Palestinian students, Malhem said, came largely from their own pockets.

"Saddam used the Palestinian issue as propaganda for himself and his government," Malhem said.

The widespread belief that Palestinians received more privileges than ordinary Iraqis drew resentment from both Shiites and fellow Sunnis. Immediately after the fall of the former regime, Iraqis pushed Palestinians out of some districts and took over their homes. Many Shiites branded the Palestinians "terrorists" and accused them of supporting or joining the then-nascent Sunni insurgency.

The low-level intimidation mushroomed into an organized campaign after the bombing of a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad in 2005. Four Palestinian men were detained as suspects and paraded on state-run television several times a day for a week as Palestinian families shuttered themselves indoors for fear of reprisal killings.

The Palestinians were acquitted, but the damage was irreversible.

"It was a brutal campaign against the Palestinians," Malhem said. "They never showed an Iranian, a Saudi, a Yemeni or a Sudanese. Only the Palestinians."

The attacks surged again after a Shiite shrine was bombed in the northern city of Samarra in February. The bombing occurred in the morning; by noon the same day, Shiite militiamen had ransacked the Quds Mosque in the Baladiyat compound, according to Palestinian and police accounts.

Since then, violence has continued. Malhem recounted several cases, many of them included in a U.N. report and all with the full names of the victims. He also provided medical records and detailed lists of the dead.

The victims include the owner of a money-exchange kiosk who was kidnapped and killed, the owner of a sweets shop who was found with two bullet wounds in the back of his head, two Palestinian officers from the former regime who were assassinated days after applying for their pension cards, a man kidnapped from his falafel restaurant and discovered in the morgue, and a widow who was slain when she tried to prevent intruders from seizing her teenage son.

Three months ago, Malhem said, Palestinian men in Baladiyat ringed their compound with a makeshift fence and assigned sentry shifts to volunteers. The next time Shiite militiamen showed up in police vans and uniforms, he said, the Palestinians shot back. The militias then turned to pelting the compound with mortars, one of which in mid-October sent shrapnel into Malhem's brother Amer, paralyzing him.

The events of Dec. 13 exemplified the dilemma the Palestinians face in a city where the hospitals and the morgue are run by the Iraqi health ministry, which is controlled by the Mahdi Army.

The Palestinians couldn't immediately get their dead to a Sunni-run hospital, so they piled the corpses on balconies until the next morning. They opened all the windows, burned incense and sprinkled rose water to mask the stench.

"If Iraqis are subjected to any assault, they can go to their tribe or their home village in the provinces, or they can leave the country," Malhem said. "Iraqis have passports, so they can leave. Palestinians don't have anything. Palestinians are just sitting here, waiting for the mortars to come."