Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fatah seizes West Bank parliament.

The failed attack and coup attempt in Gaza is now a successful one in the West Bank, or at least has been so far:

"Hundreds of Fatah gunmen on Saturday stormed Hamas-controlled institutions in the West Bank, including parliament and government ministries, and told staffers that those with ties to Hamas will not be allowed to return."

These are "Hamas-controlled institutions" in the sense that Hamas was elected to them. It's a bit of a myth that the West Bank is Fatah territory: it has been for a long time, but in the last few years, it has been progressively moving to Hamas. Hamas had in fact made huge breakthroughs in Nablus, Ramallah, Jenin, and Qalqilyah. That should be borne in mind when the media casually describe the current status as one of both parties retreating to their respective strongholds. The truth is that Fatah represents a minority of Palestinians, because of the failure of their strategy of accomodation. Now, it so happens that the aid that the US promised to Abbas was conditional:

The United States strengthened its offer of support for President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, telling him an international aid embargo against the Palestinians would end as soon as he forms a new government without Hamas, aides to Abbas said.

I say. Do you think this might somehow be connected with what has just happened? Now, if they can take the West Bank effectively and prepare some kind of peace, Abbas has a proposition for the US and Israel. As Ali Abuminah points out, the 'moderate' would like an international force to take over Gaza. Having lost elections, having lost city after city, council after council, and then the majority of Palestine itself, Fatah has allowed itself to become this, despite the willingness of Hamas to include them in a national unity government, representing the overwhelming majority of Palestinians. It is a cruel tragedy, made worse by the mocking misuse of language in the representation of it by our news outfits. Hamas, not Fatah, has spoken the language of moderation and conciliation in this dispute: as it should. Perhaps military combat with their former coalition partners is now unavoidable, but the prospect of fratricidal ruin should steady anyone's hand. One alternative is to turn to the Palestinians themselves, and ask for a general strike.