Dr. Condoleezza Rice has come and gone once again. Solutions to the festering Palestinian-Israeli dispute are not in her lexicon. What is clear from her visit is the US desire to bolster the moderates such as President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian camp. This is a self-defeating policy! What does it mean to “bolster” the moderates? Will this give the moderates in the Palestinian camp any more credibility and strength amongst the Palestinian people? Surely, it is a form of naivety or blindness in understanding the Palestinian psyche if the US expects success in that direction. Any Palestinian leader that the US and Israel supports will be rejected automatically by the Palestinians and be accused of being an Israeli and US agent.
The US has lost its credibility in the Middle East. In Iraq, the US and its allies overthrew Saddam Hussein, tried to establish a “western-style democracy” in Iraq that resulted in the election of ineffective leaders sympathetic to the US. The result is that Iraq has now become the “killing fields” where violence and terror has reached uncontrollable limits. US soldiers are killed – not to mention the numerous innocent Iraqi civilians caught up in the crossfire. Terrorists have filled the vacuum of anarchy and it is becoming impossible to establish the rule of law. The situation in Afghanistan is not much better. The Taliban are showing signs of rebirth. Both countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, are examples of US failure in creating viable democracies. Will the US be able to fit the role of honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians with this kind of record? It is doubtful. Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming the “second Vietnam” with the US becoming increasingly embroiled in violent situations that they cannot control. The US tried to bolster various puppets in these countries and failed. They will fail in Gaza as well. Anti-American feeling prevails in Gaza.
Talks between Fatah and Hamas have failed. The failure was due to Hamas’s unwillingness to agree to recognize Israel’s right to exist, ceasing violence, keeping previous signed agreements between Israel and Fatah and the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.
On 6th October 2006, Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh addressed a rally in Gaza, where he reiterated that Hamas will not be pushed out of power, accept compromise or recognize Israel. He continued, "There are new scenarios, such as an emergency government, a technocrat government, or early elections," Haniyeh told tens of thousands of supporters. "They all aim for one thing, getting Hamas out of the government.""I urge the leadership of Fatah and Hamas to hold an urgent meeting, tonight, in my presence, to put an end to the internal strife. [But] we will not recognize Israel," Haniyeh said.
This rally was held in the background of civilian strife between Hamas and Fatah. Many civil servants have not received their salaries for many months and this adds grist to the mill of unrest as well. It is obvious that the only way that there will be change in hard-line attitudes towards Israel and the promotion of armed terror is to hit Gaza economically by severe boycotts – and creating a situation that is untenable for the continuation of violence that would bring Hamas to its knees. The moment there is moderation on the part of the Quartet, Hamas and their Jihadist allies will view this as a weakness and a perfect excuse to continue their terror operations against Israel proving that terror is effective.
Perhaps it would be appropriate at this stage to compare the fall of apartheid South Africa in the 1990s. The world boycotted South Africa’s white government economically. Sanctions were effective and this forced the white government to release Nelson Mandela from prison after serving a 27-year sentence for treason. The first multi-racial democratic elections in South Africa were held in April 1994. The overwhelming majority of South Africans elected the ANC into power with Nelson Mandela as its leader. The black suffering increased because of boycotts and sanctions against apartheid South Africa. This did increase unemployment for the blacks because of the economic recession that sanctions caused. The world ignored that! The accomplishment of the downfall of the evil apartheid regime took priority over everything else. While both the Palestinian and apartheid South Africa situations are different, the principle of achieving a goal of the downfall of the racist, Islamist Hamas government remains the same. Humanitarian and economic aid to the Palestinians and its Hamas sympathizers will only bolster the Hamas regime and weaken the moderates even further. A change of heart by the Palestinians could result in a more positive attitude to the moderates, because of economic sanctions, and the situation of the Palestinians would improve in the end.
It is inappropriate to interfere with the Palestinian choice of Hamas as their rulers. This could be seen as meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. However, sanctions against the Hamas ruled Palestinian Authority resulting in total economic breakdown is legitimate in the fight against Islamist terror. The situation in Achmadinajad’s Iran is another parallel for justification of total sanctions no less.
According to the Jordan Times of Thursday, October 6th, the choice facing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is stark: Sack the Hamas-led government and risk civil war or do nothing and watch poverty and unrest deepen in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Against a backdrop of the bloodiest internal violence in more than a decade, that is the dilemma confronting the moderate Abbas. Mahmoud Abbas’s attitude towards Hamas is compromising and indecisive. This was the case before the Palestinians elected Hamas and now it is even more in evidence. While Hamas is uncompromising in its attitude towards Israel, the establishment of a Palestinian state and the improvement of the Palestinian economic situation will remain a remote goal.
According to the Lebanese newspaper 6th October 2006– Dar Al Hayat - The Open Showdown: Extremism v/s Moderation by Raghida Dergham: The solution is not to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, but to dissolve the government and call for new elections. The Palestinian voter would decide whether he is opting for negotiation or fighting for the creation of a Palestinian State. Since the experience of the Islamic Movement of Hamas heading the government, the Palestinian people might feel the need to get another chance to decide if they are in favor of negotiations as a means of ending the occupation and the creation of a State, or if the armed resistance is the best available option. This is the question that should be addressed honestly by the Arabs and the Palestinians. If they decide on the latter, it will create the ideal prescription for Palestinian national suicide. The choice is in the hands of the Palestinian People.