Saturday, November 24, 2012

Palestinian political spectrum is united, split-propaganda started

For Palestinians, Gaza conflict deepens sense of futility with nonviolent approach toward Israel

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas’s latest battle against Israel sparked feverish Palestinian pride that spread beyond the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority-led West Bank. But it has also deepened a sense of futility here with the authority’s nonviolent, diplomacy-based approach to winning a Palestinian state.

The Gaza conflict catapulted the Palestinian cause back into international headlines and produced displays of unity across the Palestinian political spectrum. But it is a commonly held view here that the Islamist militants of Hamas — which refuses to recognize Israel — defeated their enemy, and that they did it with weapons, not words.

“They put Israel in its place. They forced Israel to withdraw,” Amanda Izzat, a 23-year-old university student who was shopping in Ramallah on Saturday, said of Hamas.

Many Palestinians say that the eight-day hostilities will energize the long-frozen pledges of reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority. But the conflict also underscored how starkly opposed the two factions’ strategies are. In a region where Arab Spring uprisings pushed political Islam to the forefront, some analysts say that Fatah’s secular nationalism looks more anachronistic by the day and that Hamas’s sudden strength has raised momentum for a more aggressive, even radical, posture in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Fatah member, dismissed Islamism as a fad. But she said she is increasingly worried that Palestinians will see armed resistance, which Fatah renounced in 1988, as the only mechanism that appears to win concessions from Israel.

“It would be easy to get the world’s attention by unleashing violence,” Ashrawi said. “But that’s not a tool we want to use. There’s so much tragic loss of life.”

Hamas’s rising profile has posed the most immediate challenge to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who played the role of bystander throughout the crisis. As Hamas’s leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshal, negotiated the cease-fire under the mediation of Cairo’s Islamist-led government, Abbas envoys traveled to Gaza, but he did not.

Abbas has not been to the strip since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections. Hamas, which Israel and the United States deem a terrorist group, seized control of Gaza one year later.

“This left Abbas politically naked,” said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs.

The Gaza conflict also eclipsed the build-up to what Abbas and his supporters tout as his own form of resistance to Israel: A bid set to be submitted Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians’ standing to non-member state. The resolution, which the Palestinians could use to challenge Israeli actions at the International Criminal Court, is expected to be approved.

Last week, Abbas rebuffed the latest call by the United States — this time in the form of a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who stopped in Ramallah before going to Cairo — to drop the bid. He has also ignored opposition from Israel, which says that only negotiations can lead to a Palestinian state. Israel has issued public and veiled threats of withholding funding from the authority, or even toppling Abbas, if the bid succeeds.

Emergence in the West Bank
Some Palestinian and Israeli commentators have said that Israel emboldened Hamas — perhaps intentionally — at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, which the United States funds and views as the true representative of the Palestinian people.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter frankly, denied that assertion. But he said Israel has come to recognize that Hamas is the de facto power in Gaza, casting doubt on Abbas’s claim to be the leader of all Palestinians.

“We don’t want to harm Abu Mazen,” the official said, referring to Abbas by his nickname. But “the idea that Abu Mazen will reinstate himself into Gaza. . . . We don’t see it.”

Hamas expressed support this week for Abbas’s bid at the United Nations, but its members still deride him as a lackey of Israel.

“Resistance has succeeded in forcing the Israelis to hide” in bomb shelters, supermarket employee Hassam al-Badouwi, 28, said at a pro-Hamas rally in Ramallah before the cease-fire. “I advise Abu Mazen to take a vacation.”

The rally itself was evidence of Hamas’s newfound confidence in the West Bank. Since the Fatah-Hamas split in 2007, Hamas has been driven underground and many of its leaders jailed, and pious Muslims say they have been persecuted. Fatah says its members in Gaza are persecuted by Hamas.

But even before the latest hostilities, Hamas leaders in the West Bank said the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamism were starting to change their fortunes. In an interview this summer, one senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Ramahi, said the movement’s members were demonstrating more freely and had been invited to Arab embassies for the first time in years.

In a bluster-filled victory speech on Friday, Hamas’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, suggested that cooperating with Israel — as the Palestinian Authority does, and as ousted Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak did, on security and other matters — was a thing of the past.

“Egypt has changed, the whole [Muslim] nation has changed. They are different now from the previous regimes, which provided a cover for the occupation,” Haniyeh said. “The resistance confirmed . . . the unity of the Muslim nation, and that supporting the resistance is the shortest route to the liberation of Palestine.”

‘A healthy change’
Fatah leaders insist that they are not worried by the ascent of Islamists, though Western diplomats say they detect a sense of concern from the party. Some Fatah officials say power will expose Islamists as poor leaders; others say that the Arab Spring, no matter its ideological currents, can only help a Palestinian cause that has powerful public support across Muslim-majority countries.

“This is a healthy change, as long as moderate Islam is in control and they are realistic when dealing with political issues,” said Abdel Fattah Hamayel, a senior Fatah member who is governor of Bethlehem.

Hamayel spent 19 years in Israeli prisons for belonging to and organizing for the party, and he said he fears a return to the armed resistance touted by Hamas would put his children in jail.

But he and other Fatah members say they recognize that their party is under public pressure to change, at least for the moment.

“My hope is that all this will be channeled into more unity,” said Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah member who returned Saturday from a visit to Gaza, where he said he stood in solidarity with Hamas.

But, Shaath added, the growing appeal of Hamas and other Palestinian factions that champion armed resistance are serving as a wake-up call for Fatah.

“We cannot just continue what we were used to doing before, hope for the quartet, the quintet, the sextet to do something,” Shaath said wryly of international mediation efforts. “We have to go into a much more aggressive posture.”

That does not mean a military stance, he said. But beyond peace talks — which the Palestinian Authority refuses to enter as long as Israel continues to build settlements — the options are limited. Ashrawi said she views the U.N. bid as a “last-ditch effort” for the authority. If the U.N. voters reject the bid, she said, “they will destroy the P.A.”

Abigail Hauslohner in Gaza City and Sufian Taha in Ramallah contributed to this report.

and - Washington Post

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Israel's Violence on Palestenians

Right to Defend itself

Israel has always cried 'holocaust' tears to the world while singing the old tune of "Defending itself and its citizens". How do they do it? By banning or killing international journalists by bribing their supportive governments. Palestine is destroyed as a State so is Gaza. Meanwhile the "chronically suffering Israel" has developed to a point it does not need Uncle Sam anymore, see their infrastructure, see their military development up to nuclear programs... and they are the eternal "poor" in need. -- --