What is happening in Gaza, the destruction of the Fatah by the Hamas, is an unmitigated disaster for United States and Western policy, and a grave threat to Israel. Inexplicably, nobody seems to have planned for this "contingency," though everyone knew it was coming, and nobody is doing anything about it.
A relatively small force of Hamas Islamist extremists are liquidating the possibility of a two state solution. Any possibility of peaceful coexistence is being swept into the dustbin.
The following are the last broadcast words of a Fatah activist,
in the process of being murdered by the Hamas:
Hamas has stormed the home of Jamal Abu Jideyan, general secretary of Fatah in Northern Gaza and an Al Aqsa Brigades commander, and assassinated him. About 20 minutes ago we were listening to Sawt Al Hurriya, a Palestinian radio station, as Jideyanís brother called into the station frantic. Hamas militants had surrounded the familyís home in the Jabbaliya refugee camp and had fired 16 RPG rounds at the home, with 35 family members inside, he said. ďTheyíre firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. Weíre not Jews,Ē he screamed into the telephone live on air, gun fire bursting in the background.
"We are not Jews," said the Fatah fighter, therefore, we should not die. Only Jews are supposed to die. Palestinians, including the Fatah themselves, were so transfixed by the notion of "resistance," and so in the thrall of the national genocide project, that they failed to understand that the Hamas guns were aimed at them, and at liquidation of the Palestinian national project. They are to be the first victims, before the Jews. The Palestinians never internalized the idea of sovereignty and what it means, and the need to abandon genocidal projects and racism in favor of national construction.
A Hamas spokesperson put it succinctly:
"We are telling our people that the past era has ended and will not return," Islam Shahawan, a spokesman for Hamas' militia, told Hamas radio. "The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived."
Indeed, the era of Islamic rule has apparently arrived, according to the Hamas interpretration of "Islam," and that was goal of the Hamas.
The two items explain what happened: The Hamas sold Islamism to the Palestinian population in general, and even to the secular Fatah, under the guise of "resistance" and "killing Jews." In the popular mind, building a state and a peaceful future took second place to killing Jews and "resistance." If we are not Jews, no Palestinians will kill us, they reasoned. But Fatah activists were branded by Hamas as traitors and Quislings who got the support of the United States and Israel, they became honorary al Yahood.
As for justice, those who have supported "justice" for Palestine by eliminating Israel can see from the Gaza violence that Hamas "justice" entails invading hospitals, killing doctors and throwing people off the tops of buildings. That is the sort of justice one may expect under Hamas rule. Here is another example of Islamist "justice":
"They are executing them one by one," Fatah officials said seven of their fighters were shot dead in the street outside Preventive Security building. A witness, Jihad Abu Ayad, said the men were being killed before their wives and children.
"They are executing them one by one," Abu Ayad said. They are carrying one of them on their shoulders, putting him on a sand dune, turning him around and shooting.":
The US has belatedly condemned the Hamas "acts of terror," though they aren't showing any signs of doing anything about the problem. On the other hand, popular media such as PBS are portraying the Hamas as "moderate" and the BBC and others are blaming it all on Israel it seems. Presumably, Al Qaeda, which is less "moderate," would throw people off of the roofs of thirty story buildings rather than fifteen story buildings.
The attacks were initiated at an opportune time, when Fatah forces leader Mahmoud Dahlan was outside of Gaza undergoing medical treatment. The supposed trigger for the Hamas attack was an RPG fired at the house of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanniyeh. But the attack, which came while Dahlan was away, makes no sense. The RPG was probably not going to kill Hanniyeh and the Fatah were unprepared to defend themselves or to take over the government. Was it really launched by a Fatah loyalist, or was it a manufactured provocation? Or was it actually a response to a Hamas attack? The Hamas certainly had a well coordinated contingency plan prepared for "just such an event," entirely "by coincidence."
The real motivation for what is happening in Gaza has nothing much to do with Palestinians or occupation. The orders come from Syria and Iran, who were never interested in a Palestinian state, and certainly not in a state that is controlled by the secular Fatah and its allies, and absolutely not a state that would be a protege of the US and the West, and that would take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict off the table. The fact is that that the Arab and Muslim world were not interested in a Palestinian state since 1948. This is documented quite convincingly in the book by Rogan and Shlaim, "The War for Palestine." This has been a staple of the policies of most countries in the Middle East for many years, and it remains the policy of the "refusal front" states. Syria considers "Palestine" to be part of southern Syria, and has no interest in an independent state in any part of it.
Had the US administration and the quartet roadmap plan succeeded in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the entire complexion of Middle East geopolitics would have been changed forever. Iran and Syria would have been isolated in the Arab and Muslim arena. The Saudi sponsored Arab Peace plan would perhaps become a reality, and the place for Islamist extremism and Syrian intrigues would have vanished from Middle East diplomacy.
The need to maintain the Palestinian Authority in power was always recognized as a priority by the Bush administration. That is why the Israel government was not allowed to move in on the Muqata and Yasser Arafat. That is why Israel have been forced, during all the years of the Intifada, and even after the Israeli withdrawal, to supply electricity, fuel and water to the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza. The water that is drunk by the suicide bombers and the Qassam launchers and the holy dervishes of the Hamas comes from Israel. The radio stations that broadcast the blood curdling messages of murder for Jews and Fatah "traitors" are powered by Israeli generators, and the gasoline in the trucks that transport the rocket launching teams is refined in Israel. The charge that Israel is "choking" Gaza has to be viewed in the light of those facts.
Israeli acquiescence in the events in Gaza came at the insistence of the United States, which also transferred quantities of arms to the Fatah in the hope that that would enable them to resist the inevitable showdown with Hamas. It cannot be imagined that different Israeli governments were enthusiastic about this policy. Ariel Sharon was not a great lover of the Palestinian people or a believer in the cause of Palestinian Arab independence. He vowed that the Gaza settlements would remain under Israeli sovereignty forever. But under pressure of the White House bulldozer, he left Mr. Arafat to survive in the Muqata and to be succeeded by Mahmoud Abbas, and then he withdrew from Gaza, evacuating his beloved settlements, the folly of Israeli nationalism. In doing so however, Sharon threw out the baby with the bathwater, because the IDF too withdrew from Gaza, ending any possibility of keeping order there and allowing a reasonable transition to responsible Palestinian government. The Hamas filled the vacuum left by the IDF.
No Israeli government could agree to Mr. Abbas's terms of peace, which include return of Palestinian refugees and surrender of all of East Jerusalem, including Israeli national institutions there such as the Hebrew University on Mt Scopus, the historic Jewish quarter of the Old city and the Western (Wailing Wall). The absurd charge that Abbas and Fatah are tools of Israel, leveled by the Hamas, could only be cooked up in the feverish brains of Islamist Mullahs.
But Israel had maneuvered itself into a position where it is almost totally dependent on the United States for military aid and diplomatic support. Therefore, there was no choice but to undertake disengagement, to allow the existence of the Palestinian authority even after the Hamas had taken it over, and even, for the unlucky PM Olmert, to acquiesce in daily Qassam rocket terror in Sderot, inside Green Line Israel, emanating from the previously occupied Gaza strip. It doesn't matter if U.S. policy makers are totally ignorant of Middle East reality. They have the money and the power, so their word is law. But now that their pet puppy, the one that they so wanted their parents to buy, is sick, the adolescents in Washington are not interested in taking care of it. As usual, having imposed an inappropriate solution, the irresponsible adolescents of the State Department walk away from the consequences and go on to the next policy blunder.
It is true that Israel did not oblige those who wanted it to grant more concessions in order to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas. It is unlikely that any such concessions would have really helped Palestinian moderates however. Every concession that Israel made was always seen as a victory for "armed resistance" and not for moderation. At the same time, every concession and every offer were always denigrated as too little, any number of prisoners offered as a confidence building gesture was considered to be a Zionist trick. Muhamad Dahlan warned Israel not to support the Fatah in any way, because such support would ensure that Fatah are branded as traitors.
The debacle in Gaza has ominous portents for others as well. The method of Hamas was to gain legitimacy for its rule through a unity government with Fatah, and then to destroy Fatah from within. The same "unity government" proposal is now on the table in Lebanon, where the Hezbollah are seeking to take over the government, and the ultimate result may be the same in Lebanon as in Gaza: an Islamist take over.
The crumbling of the more numerous and powerful Fatah forces looks like fate or historical inevitability in action. Mahmoud Abbas inexplicably failed to give any orders in time. He was being true to his often repeated pledge to Palestinians that the arms supplied with American help would not be used against Palestinians. Fatah would only kill Jews. But the Hamas was play a different game. An enemy of Islam is an enemy of Islam for them. The guns supplied by the Americans were surrendered to Hamas or captured by them:
Fatah officials here confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas's security forces in the Gaza Strip. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a US security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.
Hamas said it had seized thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, communication equipment, armored vehicles, trucks, binoculars, military outfits, tents, sleeping bags, hand grenades, mortars and documents.
Hamas militiamen were seen driving some of the confiscated vehicles that have been decorated with Hamas flags and signs.
Pictures of the weapons were posted on a number of Hamas-linked Web sites. "Most of the weapons came from Egypt and Jordan over the past few years," a senior Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post. "They did not come directly from the US, although the Americans had initiated the supply of weapons and ammunition."
Despite overwhelming numerical superiority, Fatah forces didn't fight, because Abbas didn't give the order until it was too late, after Fatah officials threatened a revolt. He proved to be at least a worthless leader, and perhaps something worse.
Essentially, all foreign policies except one regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in ruins, including the policies of the United States, Israel, the EU and Russia. Only the Iranian/Hamas/Syrian policy remains. It is, simply put, "kill the Jews."
The Hamas takeover, if it is allowed to stand, represents the end of the road for any peace solution for the foreseeable future. It is as though the Nazi Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al Husseini, was resurrected and set up a state in Gaza. Except for the Hamas, Iran and the Syrian army intelligence, none of the participants and all of the bystanders really comprehend what has happened in Gaza, or what has happened to them, or what they should be doing. Israeli and American peace groups are silent, or dwell on issues like the two state solution and the Israeli separation fence, that are not top priority or are irrelevant. Amir Peretz is busy packing his bags, Ehud Olmert is worried about his government, Bush is worried about Iraq. Israel and the United States are dithering about, trying to decide what they should do, if they are thinking of the problem at all.
Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev had this to say about the events:
If we were to negotiate with Abu Mazen, at least for the foreseeable future, his ability to deliver in Gaza will be severely limited."
. As Charles Levinson noted charitably, it is the understatement of the week.
Ronny Shaked writes that the victory of the Hamas presages a terrible nightmare - a two-state Palestinian solution, with Hamas controlling Gaza. He is wrong. For Israel, that is actually the small nightmare. The real nightmare, far more realistic, is the one-state Palestinian solution, with Hamas controlling both Gaza and the West Bank, as well as the PLO. Syria is on its way to realizing its long term goal of liquidating the Fatah, or returning the Fatah to being a subservient offspring of Syrian intelligence, as it was before the Six Day War.
Egypt stands by and does nothing. The UN does nothing. The U.S. does nothing. Pathetic faxes from Gaza are flooding Israeli newspapers, asking Israel to take over Gaza again, but that would be most unwise. Fatah troops are fleeing by boat and by land to Israel and Egypt.
The spinmeisters are already at work however. Hamas will be spun as a "moderate movement" and a foil to Al Qaeda. The inhuman cruelty and destruction perpetrated by the Hamas, the execution of familiies, the violation of hospitals, throwing people off the roofs of buildings, all these are already being billed as the fault of Israel. As long as an explanation can be found, and the usual suspect can be blamed, the problem can be ignored.
In the latest developments, Mahmoud Abbas has dissolved the Palestinian government. Given that he has no control over Gaza, this may be an empty gesture or a signal that Gaza and the West Bank are now two separate entities. Israel has meanwhile decided to tell the US that indeed, Gaza and the West Bank must be treated as separate entities. That is not a solution, because Gaza itself is a problem, and isolating it has not proven practical and is not going to help. Eventually Hamas must be removed from power in Gaza and if not Fatah, then a different government must be formed, and the suspended animation status of Gaza must be ended. It cannot remain a non-state, nor part of any other state, forever.
Israel, it cannot afford to be complacent about events in Gaza either. A Hamas state will NOT be good for the Jews. There are some who have the illusion that the existence of a Hamas state will isolate the Palestinians forever, but it will not happen. The United States, and certainly the EU, are going to try to get along with whoever has the power, and if that is Iran and the Hamas, then they will try to get along with the Hamas, just as they are trying to get along with the Iranians today. That cannot be good for Israel.
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