by Khalid Amayreh
Monday, June 4th, 2012
Originally posted to the Palestinian Information Center
As part of the agreement, the two sides agreed to form a national unity government, prepare for elections and begin a process of normalization and national reconciliation.
However, it is amply clear that reality on the ground doesn’t leave much room for optimism even for those who want to give the parties the benefit of the doubt.
Let us cite some of these facts on the ground that will make the realization of a genuine and durable reconciliation unlikely.
First, the Israeli occupation army, not the Palestinian Authority (PA), controls every nook and cranny in the West Bank, hence it is the apartheid Zionist state that has and will have the final say with regard to matters such as holding elections, especially in East Jerusalem.
Second, it is inconceivable that the Islamic liberation group, Hamas, would consent to continued security coordination between Israel and the PLO. Such consent would eviscerate Hamas of all its Islamic and nationalist credentials and project the movement as just another Fatah, or another political group vying for “power” under the heels of Israeli military occupation. This scenario amounts to political suicide for Hamas and could consign the movement to the museum of history.
This issue is very crucial for reaching national reconciliation. The so-called security coordination between Israel and the PA is a matter of survival for the Ramallah regime. Indeed, for Israel, security coordination with the PA (against Hamas and other opponents of the scandalously bankrupt peace process) constitutes the ultimate Raison d’être of the PA.
Hence, it is highly unlikely that Israel will tolerate any serious reduction in the level of security coordination and collaboration with the PA. It is true that Hamas would probably opt for political and popular resistance against the Israeli occupation. But this is no guarantee that Israel will allow Hamas to reestablish itself in the West Bank, even through reincorporation into the PA apparatus.
In the final analysis, the Israeli witch-hunt policy against Hamas has very little to do with resistance to the occupation or “terror” as Israeli propaganda refers to every act of resistance or opposition to the Nazi-like occupation.
Israel is simply against Hamas because Hamas refuses to lower the ceiling of Palestinian national aspirations, especially those pertaining to such core issues as Jerusalem, the paramount Right of Return for the refugees, recognition of Israel and settlements.
It is true that Fatah publicly adopts more or less similar positions on these issues. However, it is clear that Israel believes or at least hopes that Fatah could be bullied or cajoled into making far-reaching compromises that would enable Israel to clinch a significantly better deal than anything involving Hamas.
Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, let alone recognize it as a Jewish state for ideological reasons. The group argues rather convincingly that it is grossly unfair to demand a Palestinian recognition of Israel at a time when Israel continues to refuse to acknowledge the very existence of the Palestinian people.
Moreover, Hamas argues convincingly that Israel never has peace with the Palestinians on the top of its priority list as the apartheid state continues to build settlements on occupied land and transfers hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens to live on land that belongs to another people.
Third, the continued rounding-up of Hamas’ supporters in the West Bank underscores the utter ill-will of the Fatah movement which apparently prefers to appease Israel and its guardian-ally, the United States, rather than respond positively and sincerely to reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
Hundreds of Hamas supporters, including college students, are still being detained in PA lockups in the West Bank. This fact means that mistrust and mutual suspicions will continue to shape the manner in which the two groups relate to each other.
More to the point, it is well known that hundreds of Islamist institutions, including schools, clinics, youth clubs, cultural centers, charities and social centers have been taken over by Fatah, which refuses to return them to rightful owners. This, too, shows that Fatah doesn’t have much faith in the reconciliation process with Hamas and wants to keep its bargaining cards close to its chest.
Notwithstanding, it is widely expected that the election issue will prove to be the most difficult obstacle impeding the realization of genuine reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Since the last Palestinian general elections were held in 2006, Israel has been rounding up Hamas or pro-Hamas politicians, serving them with prolonged prison terms for “association with a terrorist organization.” In fact, even today, five years later, as many as 26 Palestinian lawmakers are still languishing in Israeli dungeons and detention camps on purely frivolous charges. The captives include the Speaker of the Palestinian parliament Aziz Dweik, a professor of Urban Planning.
A lawyer representing some of these lawmakers told this writer that in any other country; his clients wouldn’t spend a single day in prison.
“They are held in Israeli jails because Jewish officials want to satiate their sadistic urges. This is the reason my clients and others are not brought before a genuine court of law…because they have done absolutely nothing wrong.”
In light, Hamas must seek real guarantees that its candidates and supporters will be granted full freedom to campaign unhindered by the Israeli occupation army. Similarly, Hamas must obtain guarantees against the arrest of its candidates, before or after the elections.
But Neither Fatah nor the PA, not even the EU and the US, can give such guarantees, given the lawless and insolent nature of the Israeli state.
Hence, it is imperative that Hamas make every effort in order not to fall into the trap that is being set up for it, especially in the West Bank.
This is because a genuine election that is worthy of the name must at the very least ensure that all participating parties and groups are treated on equal footing and given equal opportunities.
Otherwise, the rift will be consolidated and the current agreement will vanish into oblivion.
In conclusion, it is futile to conduct genuine elections, let alone pretend we are free and sovereign, while the Israeli occupation authorities continue to occupy our country, torment our people, strangle our will to freedom and dignity, and try to force us into succumbing to a status of water carriers and wood hewers in the service of the master race, the so-called chosen people.