Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palestinian Infighting Now Infamous

Al Jazeera writer Ramzy Baroud questions whether the idea of "Palestinian Unity" has any meaning anymore in his article Palestinian Unity: Goal or Mantra?
Palestinian disunity, and political -- if not, geopolitical -- fragmentation is eroding the Palestinian cause more than all Israeli efforts, walls and military incursions combined. The painful-to-watch televised bickering between representatives of various Palestinian factions has led to confusion among traditionally pro-Palestinian groups worldwide. The political objectives -- once agreed upon as "constants" -- and symbols that once united Palestinians everywhere are now wide open for extreme interpretation.

In fact, "respecting the sanctity of Palestinian blood", which for long served as the lowest possible denominator agreed on by every Palestinian grouping, has been violated many times in recent months and years; too many times to count. Repeating the slogan is, at this point, an empty mantra, joining the numerous other mantras that have for long served as a sedative for the hapless masses, whether Arabs, Palestinians or both.
I read Al Jazeera and Israel's Haaretz news everyday, and it's not often that they both say the same thing, but when they do, I find it bears repeating. Further underscoring my commentation of Abbas' temper tantrum the PA again uses the media to issue veiled threats to Hamas.

Haaretz writes:
RAMALLAH - The Palestinian Authority must be ready to use force against Hamas in Gaza "to reunify the homeland," said the head of PA forces in the West Bank, Gen. Dhiab al-Ali (Abu al-Fatah), considered the Palestinian chief of staff.

"If Gaza remains mutinous, the Palestinian Authority will have no choice but to use force against it," Ali said in a recent interview with Haaretz at his Ramallah offices.

Ali said the PA has not ruled out using force if the territory remains in Hamas' hands.

"There haven't yet been consultations with the Israelis on the issue," Ali said. "We hope we won't need that option - for us it's the last choice for unifying the homeland - but we must be prepared to implement it."

No senior PA official close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ever expressed such views to the media, and especially not shortly before a Fatah delegation is set to attend talks in Cairo on a possible detente with Hamas.
The mention of Israel backing up Fatah forces in a Gaza takeover is both heartbreakingly optimistic and a confirmation of a recent quip by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Firstly, Fatah doesn't have forces, per se. As I wrote back on August 9th, the U.S. is funding the creation of Palestinian security forces, but the first battalion of 500 soldiers has just finished training. This is hardly a force one goes off conquering non-contiguous pieces of land with.

Secondly, Hamas released a statement July 29, saying:
"Now the Zionists are protecting you," Hamas said in a statement addressed to security forces in the West Bank. "You know that once the protection of the Zionists is over, people will enter your headquarters and kick you out," it said.

"You must know we are not acting against you now in the West Bank because ... we know the Zionists will immediately back you."
Abbas and his cabinet do not seem concerned with countering this statement. In fact, it seems they rather enjoy the world knowing they are under Israel's protection, as the faction most cooperative with Israel's agenda. The problem is, they have secured Israel's cooperation at the expense of their peoples' needs and wants, which is perhaps what causes the infighting Baroud mentioned above.


Joe said...

I like the blog! Well-written, good story selection, and a good sense of the Middle East as a place full of imperfect choices, imperfect factions, and imperfect leaders. I'll keep reading on a regular basis.

HRH said...

Joe, your approach is very pragmatic. Are you a policy analyst? Historian? Journalist? I'm intrigued. Please email me- tomilaineclark@gmail.