Monday, June 18, 2007

Fatah's "credibility problem", and an imaginary menagerie in Gaza

Before going any further, I think it's worth mentioning that yesterday's Observer - with uncharacteristically sharp articles by Peter Beaumont - mention that in Gaza, Hamas had secured the cooperation of a bunch of Fatah officials not aligned with Dahlan's thugs. Danny Rubinstein describes in Haaretz how Hamas "even released Fatah commanders who are not suspected of corruption or of connections to Dahlan" and is now conducting negotiations with several Fatah leaders locally. And Angry Arab reports today that Fatah officials in Gaza are angrily demanding "accountability" from, and a trial of, Mohammed Dahlan.

Okay, now let's add the fact that Fatah gunmen are now operating in villages and towns under Israeli control. Although Hamas are offering dialogue in Gaza and saying that many of the Fatah fighters who fled may now return, Fatah leaders are pleading with Israel to help them get Hamas out of the West Bank. The Heathlander mentions that Palestinians in the West Bank have had to start shaving their beards to avoid being taken for Hamas. In the middle of all this, Fatah's men have shot someone they suspect of collaborating with Israel. Well, at least they've got a sense of fucking humour. Now, with Abbas' coup effected, suddenly USAID is begging to flood the West Bank with food, and Ehud Olmert is saying that he will now give some of the money that Israel has taken from the Palestinians back to them (Israel 'collects' taxes 'for' the Palestinian Authority, but has actually withheld the Palestinians' money from them under the rubric of an economic embargo). And there's an intensifying blockade against Gaza. Bear in mind that this could mean even worse starvation: Gaza is reported to be down to its last two weeks of supplies of some materials.

No wonder Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has condemned the Fatah leadership. No wonder the new Palestinian "Prime Minister", whose party had the support of 2.4% of Palestinians at the last elections, is talking about a "credibility problem". There is no credibility

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Postscript. I wanted to draw your attention to this witlessly witty LA Times editorial. It really is a total fucking fantasy. Take this for a starter: "THE EMERGENCE of "Hamastan" between Israel and Egypt is an unqualified disaster for the world. It's especially cruel for the 51% of the Palestinians in Gaza who did not vote for Hamas in 2006 but now find themselves living under an illegal, self-declared Islamic republic." Did you read that correctly? This happens to be a ubiquitous theme for right-wing pro-Israeli columnists such as the disreputable Con Coughlin, who wrote: "Welcome to the new Islamic Republic of Hamas-stan." In fact, Hamas has not declared an Islamic Republic, and it was elected by a plurality of Palestinian voters, making it the largest single party in the legislative body, including a clear majority in Gaza (see here). While Con Coughlin is a pretty average British racist, the LA Times editor has reversed the results of the election and invented a new republic in 2% of historic Palestine: talk about American imperialism. I also notice that many of Israel's apologists are becoming confused (and perhaps this is where the need for a fictitious 'Islamic Republic' comes in). They forgot that the script was that the Iranian leader wanted to "wipe Israel off the map", and now accuse Hamas of the same thing. Well, look who's being wiped off this map. Anyway, aren't they forgetting what their own heroes have been given to utter? How about the new Imaginary Islamic Republic of Hamastan? Should that be wiped off the map?