Thursday, June 21, 2007

More trouble ahead

The political storm for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is not yet over

By Khaled Amayreh from Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Unfortunately, experience shows that Fatah, particularly its largely undisciplined and numerous militias and gangs, has a record of refusing to acknowledge the authority of previous Palestinian governments whether in Ramallah or in Gaza. The organisation may prove to be even more at odds with a government led by a "Western-oriented' prime minister who believes that all militia men and security agencies ought to be answerable to his office......

At present, the prospects don't look very encouraging. On Monday, masked men, ostensibly affiliated with Mohamed Dahlan's faction, broke into and burned down the Ramallah home of Aziz Deweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, who is presently in an Israeli jail for being a member of a political party backed by Hamas. This arson appears to be part of a widespread campaign of vandalism and intimidation carried out by Dahlan's supporters against Hamas followers and their property in retaliation for the events in Gaza last week.

Fayyad also faces other daunting responsibilities. He seems to be uncertain as to what can or should be done to restore "central authority" in Gaza where Hamas is consolidating its authority. When questioned as to what he would do with the Hamas government in Gaza, Abdul-Razzaq al Yahya, the aging and newly appointed Minister of Interior answered, "I swear by God I don't know.".....

Some short-sighted Fatah and PLO officials erroneously assume that Palestinians will bow their heads and cease their support for Hamas on the grounds that he who pays the piper calls the tune. However, this is an assumption, that is only partially true, especially in the Gaza Strip. Many Gazans there will continue, for many months to come, to appreciate Hamas' success in restoring some normalicy to a people long tormented and terrorised by armed thugs operating under a plethora of titles according to family, factional and ideological affiliations.

Naturally, Palestinians desire both economic and physical security. But very few would agree to exchange physical security for a regular income as many in Ramallah may be thinking......

Any Palestinian government will have to make major political concessions to the occupying power in order just to to survive, let alone prosper. And the concessions coveted by Israel, as it is known, must include paramount issues which the Palestinians regard as sacred. These include East Jerusalem as their future capital and the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, who either fled, or were driven out of their homeland at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers when Israel was established in 1948.

Furthermore, it is well known that in the American-Israeli lexicon, terms such as "moderates" and "pro-peace Palestinians" are nearly always euphemisms for "quislings" and "collaborators" who are willing to appease Israeli arrogance while accommodating its territorial ambitions. This is probably the reasoning behind the refusal of so many Gazans to take to the streets in support of Muhammed Dahlan and his men as Hamas hounded them out of Gaza.

The Fayyad government also faces a real problem pertaining to its legitimacy and constitutionality. According to PA legislation (incomplete due to the absence of statehood), the establishment of any emergency government would have to obtain the approval of the Legislative Council in order to extend its term for another thirty days. However, the Palestinian parliament is controlled by Hamas and the bulk of Islamic lawmakers (more than 40 of them) are imprisoned in Israel "for associating with an illegal organisation.".....

In the final analysis, Abbas will have to seek a modus vivendi with Hamas. However,the important question is whether the US and its influential men within Fatah, e.g. the Dahlan group, will allow Abbas to rebuild bridges with Hamas."

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