Sunday, December 17, 2006

The politics of the Palestinian 'civil war'.

According to the UN's Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in the Territories, Israel's seige policy on Palestine increased the number of road-blocks over the last year by 44%. Every single aspect of the border pass agreement has been broken by the Israelis, with the justification of 'security' concerns, despite the fact that there has not been a security breach since April. This measure has contributed to driving unemployment as high as 42% in the last year. That this intensifies an Israeli economic blockade in place since 2000, and an ongoing process of state-supported theft of land privately owned by Palestinians, shouldn't prevent us from seeing the novelty.

It is a part of the attempt to break the Hamas government, launched with a propaganda campaign to complement the massive cry of "no fair" in the West, then with a European Union policy of enforced starvation. The trouble with Hamas is that they are not guaranteed to more or less comply wiht Israeli policy as the increasingly corrupt Fatah did from 1994 onward, in return for bribes from the 'international community'. Hamas made a big electoral premium out of being incorruptible, and of refusing to compromise with Israel's ongoing diminution of Palestine to a couple of rump territories surrounded by militarised camps ('settlements'). Where Fatah was coopted into running and organising Israel's garrison state for it, Hamas promised it would not. The US and Israel therefore provided huge amounts of funding and support to Fatah, and have been pushing them to refuse a unity government and mount opposition to the Hamas government since it was first elected. Israel has mounted vicious military attacks on Gaza (which it called Operation Summer Rain), claiming to have been prompted either by an ineffectual sprinkle of Qassam rocket fire, or the capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit, but effectively punishing the civilian population for its electoral choice. It destroyed a crucial power station, putting out electricity for 1 million Palestinians. It kidnapped the Hamas-led government, and then, following the loss of the 33-day war to Hezbollah, sought to pressure Fatah into forming an emergency government without Hamas. Then, in Operation Autumn Clouds, it continued to attack the civilian population and infrastructure. During these operations, they have used civilians as human shields and shot hundreds dead.

Meanwhile, Olmert has been dangling talks in front of the nose of Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, in return, has called for early elections, which the US has 'backed'. The US has also been training Fatah's footsoldiers in 'anti-terror' methods. Coincidentally, Fatah's men have now mounted a series of attacks, including an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Fatah's security forces have beaten up Hamas supporters, and opened fire on a huge Hamas rally in the West Bank. Israel has kindly legalised its own assassinations policy, thus preparing itself for a crucial role in taking out Palestinian government leaders. For some reason, the Hamas leader thinks that Mahmoud Abbas is looking for a war, and several firefights have broken out between the two organisations.

The so-called 'civil war' is a coup attempt. As far back as October, Fatah leaders were already advertising their preparations to "take action" against Hamas. We are beginning to see some of the fruits of these preparations. The tactic of pursuing a coup in the guise of a civil war is a filthy one, which would - if successful - kill thousands and potentially destroy the indigenous resistance to Zionist colonisation. Yet, it is doubtful that the bulk of Fatah's supporters are happy about such a strategy, and it isn't clear to me that Abbas would benefit from early elections, no matter how much money the US pumped into Fatah campaign.