Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hamas must reshape itself

Fatah is too weak to deal with Israel – Palestine needs a strong leadership that is ready to negotiate

David Hearst
The Guardian, Saturday 5 June 2010

".....The rules of the game are changing: overwhelming force no longer guarantees the right outcome. Turks, not Arabs, have taken up the cudgels of the fight to end the occupation; Palestinians are increasingly looking away from the air-conditioned offices in Ramallah for moral leadership and casting nervous glances at Gaza City. Call the Hamas-run regime what you will, but beseiged Gaza remains a potent political symbol.....

The most important Palestinian occupant of the doomed convoy was a man called Sheikh Raed Salah, one of the founders of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a campaigner on East Jerusalem and a popular former mayor of his home town Umm al-Fahm, where he was elected with 70% of the vote. He is currently under house arrest in Israel, but had he been killed in the Israeli operation – and he has since alleged that Israeli commandos tried to kill him – it would have been Hamas, not Fatah, flags flying over Umm al-Fahm. The Fatah-run Palestinian Authority is one of the main sponsors of the siege of Gaza, and is still paying tens of thousands of its former employees in Gaza not to turn up for work for the government there.....

In the Israeli prisons, in the refugee camps, Fatah no longer enjoys the hold it once had, so that if a deal on the borders of a Palestinian state were cut between Abbas and Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, it would be questionable as to what it would be worth, especially if it fell short of the two other core demands: East Jerusalem and the right of return of Palestinian refugees....

Whether Hamas is ready to assume the leadership of the Palestinian movement is another matter. If Fatah is falling off the cliff, Hamas still describes itself as being on the first foothold up it. There is a concern about keeping the Islamist movement together as it shifts from resistance only to resistance and negotiation...."

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