Abbas Scuttles Fatah/Hamas Unity
by Stephen Lendman
Last April, Fatah and Hamas agreed on establishing unity Palestinian governance.
Hamas official Izzat Ar-Rishiq said issues separating both sides were resolved.
Fatah confirmed the report. Both sides agreed to form a “government of independents.”
It would be “tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year.”
PLC deputy head Dr. Ahmad Bahar called the agreement historic. Gaza’s coalition of independent figures head Abdul-Aziz Shiqaqi said it breaks new ground. It offers reconciliation hope.
Earlier unity talks failed. Israel sabotaged them. In April 2011, both sides met in Cairo. They announced a draft reconciliation agreement.
Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported “a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections.”
Hamas official Izzat Ar-Rishiq said differing issues between both sides were resolved.
Fatah’s delegation head, Azzam Al-Ahmad, confirmed it. Both sides agreed on unity governance, he said.
They’ll be “tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year.”
Reconciliation didn’t follow. Agreed on terms were ignored. A similar Doha 2012 agreement followed. Announced national unity governance wasn’t consummated.
Netanyahu reacted as expected. He demanded Abbas “choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.”
“There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly,” he said.
“I think that the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip.”
Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. He’s a Palestinian Judas. His interest in unity is pretense.
He’s Israel’s enforcer. He denies Palestinians legitimate governance.
It was just a matter of time before hoped for unity faded. It was fantasy from inception. It was dead on arrival. Its obituary remained to be written.
One of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge (OPE) objectives was preventing it. Netanyahu blamed Hamas for abducting and killing three Israeli youths in June.
He did so automatically. With no evidence whatever proving it. Repression followed. West Bank Hamas members and institutions were targeted.
Around 1,000 Palestinians were detained. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy.
Operative Protective Edge (OPE) followed. It was well-planned premeditated aggression. It had nothing to do with Hamas rockets. Firing them responded to Israeli attacks.
Hamas’ popularity surged following OPE. According to a Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research poll, 72% of all Palestinians expressed support for armed resistance.
Support for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh more than doubled the amount expressed for Abbas.
Hamas has an 88% approval rating. The PA scored 36%. If Haniyeh faced Abbas in a presidential election, he’d win overwhelmingly.
According to Palestinian Reconciliation Committee chairman Ahmed Yousef:
“Hamas has now emerged as part of the broader political spectrum. It no longer stands alone.”
“It is the steadfastness and survival of people which gives a flavor of victory.”
“We are not a superpower…The message we are telling Israel is that we love life.”
During Cairo ceasefire talks, Hamas official Khalil al-Hayyeh’s optimism was ill-founded.
“Today we are in a new era of unity,” he said. Palestinian divisions ended, he added.
Institute of Palestinian Studies senior fellow Mouin Rabbani expressed skepticism, saying:
“The Palestinians were not defeated, but can yet defeat themselves if they do not invest their achievements into a coherent national project and instead return to the pattern of seeking petty factional advantages.”
Rabbani believed Israel’s attempt to sabotage Palestinian unity failed. It was “strengthened,” he said.
Fatah supporter Abu Mahmound Braim expressed compassion for Hamas, saying:
“Once you see your brothers murdered by a foreign power, we return to what unites us – Palestine and not just factions.”
Gazan-based Fatah official Fayez Abuetta said cooperation during ceasefire talks showed all factions can work together.
“We forgot our internal squabbling and focused on what unites us all. Palestinian blood is most important to us all.”
Unity didn’t last. On August 28, Abbas scuttled it, saying:
“(A)s long as there is a shadow government in Gaza, there will be no real unity.”
Left unsaid was his own illegitimacy. Israel rigged his 2005 election. His term expired in January 2009. He refuses to call new elections.
In January 2006, Hamas won 76 legislative seats to Fatah’s 43.
At the time, it offered Israel a longterm truce “in return for a complete withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”
A Hamas/Fatah split followed. So did an Israeli blockade. Hamas official Mohammed Nazzai accused Abbas of collaborating with Israel against Palestine’s legitimate government.
Both sides remain largely at loggerheads. Reconciliation is more fantasy than real.
Abbas subverts Palestine’s liberating struggle. He knew about Cast Lead in advance. On November 30, 2010, Reuters headlined “Israel says Abbas, Egypt warned on Gaza war – leaks,” saying:
Israel “conferred with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership and with Egypt…”
Leaked US diplomatic cables quoted a senior Israeli official confirming it. Haaretz reported the same thing. Mubarak and Abbas were briefed in advance.
Haaretz said “Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian authority.” WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables confirming it.
In June 2009, months before Cast Lead, Israeli Defense Minister Barak met with US congressional members.
He “consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”
He “received negative answers from both.” Previous leaked information reported the same thing. WikiLeaks provided “the first documented proof.”
Abbas denied getting advance word. He lied. Mubarak said nothing either way.
Reuters said Abbas “urged Israel to crush Hamas during the war.”
Avigdor Lieberman held ministerial positions under Sharon and Ehud Olmert. In April 2009, he became Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister.
He explained Abbas’ involvement, saying:
“Over the past year, I witnessed (Abbas) at his best. In Operation Cast Lead, (he) called us personally, applied pressure, and demanded that we topple Hamas and remove it from power.”
Though out of government during Cast Lead, a senior Olmert official called his comments “essentially accurate.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this information “reaffirms the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer fit to represent our people, who conspired against his people during a war.”
Abbas was never fit to serve. It’s why Israel chose him. It’s why Washington provides support.
Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardaweel said:
“We have not ruled out that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority could have contributed in one way or another in the war against Gaza for political reasons such as bringing down the Hamas movement and regaining control.”
WikiLeaks revelations suggested it. Washington’s Tel Aviv embassy said Fatah officials asked Israel to attack Hamas.
According to a June 2007 dispatch, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin said “demoralized” Fatah officials wanted help to destroy Hamas.
“They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they asked us to attack Hamas,” Diskin said.
“They are desperate. This is a new development. We have never seen this before.”
“Fatah is in a very bad shape in Gaza. We have received requests to train their forces in Egypt and Yemen.”
“We would like them to get the training they need, and to be more powerful, but they do not have anyone to lead them.”
Diskin praised Shin Bet’s “very good working relationship” with Abbas at the time. His internal security service collaborates with Israel.
He understands that “Israel’s security is central to (his) survival in the struggle with Hamas…”
At the time, Fatah collaborated with Washington to oust Hamas. An abortive coup failed. More information surfaced.
WikiLeaks published a June 12, 2007 cable. It said Israeli military intelligence head Amos Yadlin told US embassy officials that Hamas retaining power in Gaza was advantageous.
“Israel would be ‘happy’ if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Hamas as a hostile state.”
Israel’s imperial agenda needs invented enemies. Having them facilitates violence and instability. They help justify Israeli aggression.
Perhaps Abbas and other Fatah officials knew about OPE in advance. Maybe they expressed support.
During 51 days of Israeli genocidal high crimes against peace, Abbas failed to express strong condemnation.
His comments were largely weak-kneed, insincere, unacceptable and insulting. He did nothing to help beleaguered Gazans.
He collaborates with the enemy against his own people. On September 7, he accused Hamas of running a shadow government.
He wants PA-led rule. “We will not accept the situation with Hamas continuing as it is at the moment,” he said.
“We won’t accept a partnership with them if the situation continues like this in Gaza where there is a shadow government…running the territory.”
“The national consensus government cannot do anything on the ground.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhi denounced his allegations. He called them “baseless.”
His “remarks against Hamas and the resistance are unjustified, and the sources of information and figures he relied on were incorrect and have nothing to do with the truth,” he said.
They’re “untrue, baseless and unfair to our people.”
They reflect injustice toward “our people and the resistance who made this great victory.”
Tensions between both factions rose in recent weeks. Collaboratively with Israel, Abbas ordered large numbers of Hamas members arrested in the West Bank.
Under reconciliation terms agreed on months earlier, both sides agreed on forming technocrat-run interim consensus governance based in Ramallah.
On June 2, new cabinet officials took office. Despite the handover, Hamas controls Gaza.
On July 8, Israel launched OPE. Unity governance was put on hold. Abbas comments suggests scuttling it altogether.
Given his longtime collaboration with Israel, perhaps he had that in mind all along.
Except for its own Jewish citizens, Israel lost the battle of public opinion. It appears to have successfully prevented Palestinian unity. It was one of OPE’s key objectives.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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