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troubles in Gaza « Previous | |Next »
May 20, 2007

The media reports in Australia represent the fighting in Gaza as Hamas versus Fatah forces or security personnel “loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas”, and this suggest that it is a catastrophic civil war.There is no light at the end of the tunnel as the tunnel itself, as far as Gaza is concerned, has been destroyed. Gaza is being turned into a Mogadishu.

What is ignored in these kind of accounts is the continued absence of a strong, central, and sovereign authority, is the hand of those running the White House Middle East policy. Elliot Abrams is the architect of US policy in the Middle East.

Ever since Hamas won the last Palestinian election, US policy under Abrams has attempted to "undermine Hamas by imposing a financial and economic chokehold on an already distressed population so that the Palestinians could be forced into choosing a Washington-approved political leadership in Palestine. That is also a leadership acceptable to Israel. Both have opposed a national unity government under Hamas and Fatah initiated by the Saudi's, and they have sought to "undermine it.

So the civil war is a frontal assault on the national unity government, with the finger being pointed at Mohammed Dahlan, the Gaza warlord who appears to be Washington’s favorite to play the client role of a Palestinian strong man.

Meanwhile Israel talks about peace but accelerates the pace of building settlements, Israeli-only roads, walls and so forth, bulldozing Palestinian orchards and homes etc. Yet Israel's political system is also in quasi-perpetual crisis as it tries to deal with the new political terrain opened up by Hamas's rise, Iran's ascent, and Hezbollah's war that exposed confront the limits of Israeli power.

Hussein Agha and Robert Malley open their important article in the New York Review of Books thus:

The idea that negotiations conducted bilaterally between Israelis and Palestinians somehow can produce a final agreement is dead. The world, slowly, is coming to this realization. Its fate was sealed in part because neither side has the ability, on its own, to close the gaps between the positions they have taken. The two parties also lack any sense of trust, but that, too, is not an overriding explanation. If bilateral negotiations have become a fast track to a dead end it is because today neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli political system possesses the requisite degree of coherence and cohesion.

Sobering. Hence the possibility of multilateral negotiations under the umbrella of the Arab initiative.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:05 PM |