Winst voor Hamas

De uitslag is toch nog meer ten gunste van Hamas dan het er gisteren uitzag. Fatah gaat niet mee regeren, zeggen ze nu, ze gaan in de oppositie. Hoe is het zo gekomen en wat gaat het betekenen? Een reactie van Ali Abunimah, van Electronic Intifada. In het engels.

Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections has everyone asking “what next”? The answer, and whether the result should be seen as a good or bad thing, depends very much on who is asking the question.

Although a Hamas success was heavily trailed, the scale of the victory has been widely termed a “shock.” Several factors explain the dramatic rise of Hamas, including disillusionment and disgust with the corruption, cynicism and lack of strategy of the Fatah faction which has dominated the Palestinian movement for decades and had arrogantly come to view itself as the natural and indisputable leader.

The election result is not entirely surprising, however, and has been foreshadowed by recent events. Take for example the city of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank. Hemmed in by Israeli settlements and now completely surrounded by a concrete wall, the city’s fifty thousand residents are prisoners of a giant Israeli-controlled ghetto. For years Qalqilya was controlled by Fatah but after the completion of the wall, voters in last years’ municipal elections awarded every single city council seat to Hamas. The Qalqilya effect has now spread across the occcupied territories, with Hamas reportedly winning virtually all of the seats elected on a geographic basis. Thus Hamas’ success is as much an expression of the determination of Palestinians to resist Israel’s efforts to force their surrender as it is a rejection of Fatah. It reduces the conflict to its most fundamental elements: there is occupation, and there is resistance.

For Palestinians under occupation, it is not yet clear what Hamas’ win will mean. It is now common to speak of a Palestinian “government” being formed out of the election results, as though Palestine were already a sovereign and independent state. But if the first duty of a government is to protect its people’s lives, liberty and property, then the Palestinian Authority has never deserved to be called a government. Since its inception, it has not been able to protect Palestinians from lethal daily attacks by the Israeli army in the heart of their towns and refugee camps, or to prevent a single dunum of land being seized for settlements, nor to save a single sapling of the more than one million trees uprooted by Israel in the past ten years. Rather, the Palestinian Authority was supposed to crush Palestinian resistance to make the occupied territories safe for continued Israeli colonization. Hamas will certainly not allow that to continue, but whether it will be able to tranform the Authority into an arm of the struggle against Israel is by no means certain. Hamas, which has observed a unilateral truce with Israel for a year, has signalled that it wants to continue this if Israel “reciprocates.” The movement clearly believes it can make such an offer from a position of strength and it is to its tactical advantage to leave uncertainty about when and how it might resume full-scale armed resistance.

Elements of the Palestinian Authority security services controlled by Fatah figures may be unwilling to put themselves under the control of a Hamas-led authority, which could lead to the collapse of what is left of the Authority’s structure, or even its break-up into personal militias. Israel and the United States which refuses to accept the outcome of the election may see an interest in encouraging such an internal conflict. Israel is likely to use Hamas’ win as a further pretext to tighten repression and accelerate its unilateral imposition of walls and settlements on the West Bank designed to annex the maximum number of land with the minimum not of Palestinians. Such developments increase the risks of a dramatic escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

As for the majority of Palestinians, who live as refugees and exiles in the diaspora, they have been progressively excluded and marginalized from efforts to solve the conflict. Whereas the US and its allies, with UN assistance, went to extraordinary lengths to allow Iraqi “out of country voters” to participate in that country’s elections, the same powers have shown no interest in giving Palestinian refugees a voice. Fatah, which many Palestinian refugees suspect would sell out their rights in peace deal with Israel, obviously had no incentive to demand such participation. It remains to be seen if Hamas, born in Gaza where ninety percent of the population are refugees, will be able to articulate an agenda that speaks to the concerns of the diaspora.

For the “international community” — principally the ‘Quartet’ made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the election result is a major embarassment. They, and the coterie of well- funded NGOs and think tanks that generate so much of their intellectual guff have built their approach on the notion that Palestinian “reform” rather than an end to the Israeli occupation, is the way to resolve the conflict. While nominally committing themselves to a two-state solution, these powers dragged the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority into an endless game where Palestinians have to jump through hoops to prove their worthiness of basic rights, while at the same time no pressure has been applied to Israel to end the confiscation of land and expansion of settlements. This peace process industry chose to hail Israel’s tactical withdrawal of eight thousand settlers from Gaza last summer, while ignoring the far larger number of settlers Israel has continued to plant all over the West Bank effectively rendering a two-state solution unachievable.

The principal purpose of this game is not to bring about a just and lasting peace but merely to inoculate the players from the charge that they were doing nothing to resolve a conflict that remains an enduring focus of regional and worldwide concern. A true peace effort would require confronting Israel and holding it accountable, something none of the Quartet members have the political will to do. There is no doubt that Fatah was entirely complicit in the game, to which it had become both a prisoner and an indispensable partner. Why else would the United States have desperately tried to shore Fatah up by spending millions of dollars on projects in recent months designed to buy votes, and why else would the EU have threatened to cut off aid if Palestinians voted for Hamas? Most Palestinians could see clearly that after years of negotiations and billions of dollars of foreign aid they are poorer and less free than ever before as more of their land has been seized. It is no wonder that this kind of bribery and blackmail had no power over them and probably had the opposite effect, increasing Hamas support.

Hamas’ victory pulls the rug from under the project of trying to deflect the blame for the conflict from Israeli colonization to Palestinian internal pathologies. The peace process industry will not give up easily, however, and will now urge Hamas to act “responsibly” and to “moderate” its positions — which means in effect to abandoning all forms of resistance and assuming the docile and complicit role hitherto played by Fatah.

The instant US demand that Hamas “recognize Israel” is like rewinding the clock twenty-five years to when this same demand was the pretext to ignore and exclude the PLO from peace negotiations. But as Hamas has observed, all the PLO’s submission to these demands did not lead to any loosening of Israel’s grip or any lessening of US support for Israel. Hamas is unlikely to do as the US demands, and even if it did, it would probably only give rise to new resistance groups responding to the worsening conditions on the ground generated by the occupation.

Ali Abunimah is a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada

6 gedachten over “Winst voor Hamas

  1. Anja, dit schreef ik vanavond op m’n weblog:

    Hamas heeft de verkiezingen in de Palestijnse gebieden op een zeer duidelijke manier gewonnen. Daarmee wordt Israel met de gevolgen van hun afknijp beleid van m.n. de laatste 4 jaar geconfronteerd. Ik heb er niet voor niets op m’n internet site een pagina aan gewijd onder de titel: What Israel can learn from the German example. Het is een gebundelde reeks stukjes die ik sinds 2001 schreef (of van anderen overnam).

    De huidige situatie wordt inderdaad door Ari Avnery’s stuk ‘Pity the Orphan heel goed gekarakteriseerd. Men wilde helemaal geen echte onderhandelingen en deed er alles aan om de positie van Fatah (die overigens inderdaad zo hier en daar behoorlijk corrupt was) te ondergraven. Wel, dames en heren in de VS en Israel: Dat is glansrijk gelukt.

    Er werd in Israel gesproken over een “historische fout”. Hamas had nooit aan de verkiezingen mogen meedoen, aldus sommigen aldaar. Een merkwaardige vorm van democratie opvatting: De Palestijen mogen kiezen, zolang ze maar op de door ‘ons’ (de VS en Israel) gewenste kandidaten stemmen.

    Het kan nu vele kanten uit. Laat ik twee uiterste scenario’s schetsen:

    Het is mogelijk dat men uiteindelijk tot een modus komt, dat er werkelijke onderhandelingen tussen Israel en Palestijnen met werkelijk gezag tot stand komen. In dat geval zou de sleutel wel eens bij de thans gevangen zittende Marwan Barghouti kunnen liggen.

    Een ander – zwart – scenario zou kunnen zijn dat na een paar bloedige (zelfmoord) aanslagen de heer Netanyahu – de favoriet van de neo-conservatieven in de VS – de verkiezingen in Israel wint en de onderdrukking van de Palestijnen nog verder wordt opgevoerd. Daarnaast moet men in dat geval rekening houden met het beginnen van oorlogen (via Israel, maar in feite door de VS) tegen Syrië en uiteindelijk ook Iran.

    We gaan mogelijk – helaas – ‘interessante tijden’ in het Midden Oosten tegemoet.

    Mazzel & groge, Evert

  2. Ik heb hier een tijd over nagedacht en ik vind geen excuus.
    Hoe goed begrijpen gewone Palestijnen waar Hamas voor staat?
    Hoe zijn de verkiezingen verlopen?

    Hoe kun je nu als redelijk mens nog tegen de “opsluiting” van Palestijnen zijn?
    Nu ze zo massaal hebben laten blijken dat ze kiezen voor terrorisme oorlog en geweld? Dat ze de staat Israël willen vernietigen?

    Palestina was natuurlijk altijd al opgesloten en met recht hebben mensen geargumenteerd dat dit niet de weg naar vrede was.
    Veel mensen waren dat met de Palestijnen eens.
    Maar nu met de overwinning van Hamas kun je hier toch niet meer tegen zijn?

    Terroristen hoor je niet los te laten lopen die sluit je op.

  3. Zelfs de amerikaanse conservatieven schijnen het licht te zien getuige dit artikel. Ik kreeg het opgestuurd en dacht ik drop het hier, kijk maar of je het wat vindt om te plaatsen.

    January 16, 2006 Issue
    Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

    Might the Arabs Have a Point?

    by Patrick J. Buchanan

    Karen Hughes, President Bush’s newest undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and the caretaker of America’s image abroad, has her work cut out for her.

    A Zogby survey of 3,900 Arabs in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates has uncovered massive distrust of U.S. motives in the Middle East.

    Unkindest cut of all, Arabs would prefer that President Chirac and France lead the world rather than us, and, rather than have us as the world’s lone superpower, they would prefer the Chinese.

    While Arabs are not as rabidly anti-American as in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, still, by 77 percent to 6 percent, they believe the Iraqi people are worse off today, and by four-to-one, Arabs say the U.S. invasion has increased, not decreased, terrorism.

    Designed by Arab scholar Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution, the survey reveals pervasive cynicism about the stated goals of George W. Bush. When asked, “When you consider American objectives in the Middle East, what factors do you think are important to the United States?” the Arab answers came as follows:

    Fully 76 percent said the Americans are there for the oil, 68 percent said to protect Israel, 63 percent to dominate the region, and 59 percent to weaken the Muslim world. Only 6 percent said we were there to protect human rights and another 6 percent said to promote democracy. Asked directly if they believe President Bush when he says democracy is our goal, two of every three Arabs, 78 percent in Egypt, said that, no, they do not believe Bush.

    Asked to name the two nations that present the greatest threat to regional peace, 70 percent named Israel, 63 percent the United States, and 11 percent Britain. Only 6 percent named our bête noire Iran.

    Asked to name the foreign leader they disliked most, Sharon swept top honors with 45 percent. Bush took the silver with 30 percent. No one else was close. Tony Blair came in a weak third. Only 3 percent of the Arabs detest him most.

    While only 6 percent agreed with al-Qaeda’s aim to establish an Islamic state and only 7 percent approve of its methods, 20 percent admire the way al-Qaeda “stood up for Muslim causes” and 36 percent admire how it “confronts the U.S.”

    Favorite news source? Sixty-five percent named Al-Jazeera either as their favorite or second favorite. What Fox News is to red-state America, Al-Jazeera is to the Arab street.

    America’s standing in the Arab world could hardly be worse. And the questions the survey raises are these: Do we care? And, if we do, do not the Arabs have a point? Has not U.S. behavior in the Middle East lent credence to the view that our principal interests are Israel and oil, and, under Bush II, that we launched an invasion to dominate the region?

    After all, before liberating Kuwait, Secretary of State Baker said the coming war was about “o-i-l.” And while we sent half a million troops to rescue that nation of 1.5 million, we sent none to Rwanda, where perhaps that many people were massacred.

    If Kuwait did not sit on an underground sea of oil, would we have gone in? Is our military presence in the Mideast unrelated to its control of two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves?

    If human rights is our goal, why have we not gone into Darfur, the real hellhole of human rights? If democracy is what we are fighting for, why did we not invade Cuba, a dictatorship, 90 miles away, far more hostile to America than Saddam’s Iraq, and where human rights have been abused for half a century? Saddam never hosted nuclear missiles targeted at U.S. cities.

    And is Israel not our fair-haired boy? Though Sharon & Co. have stomped on as many UN resolutions as Saddam Hussein ever did, they have pocketed $100 billion in U.S. aid and are now asking for a $2 billion bonus this year, Katrina notwithstanding. Anyone doubt they will get it?

    Though per capita income in Israel is probably 20 times that of the Palestinians, Israel gets the lion’s share of economic aid. And though they have flipped off half a dozen presidents to plant half a million settlers in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, have we ever imposed a single sanction on Israel? Has Bush ever raised his voice to Ariel Sharon? And when you listen to the talking heads and read the columns of the neocon press, is it unfair to conclude that, yes, they would like to dump over every regime that defies Bush or Sharon?

    Empathy, a capacity for participating in another’s feelings or ideas, is indispensable to diplomacy. Carried too far, as it was by the Brits in the 1930s, it can lead to appeasement. But an absence of empathy can leave statesmen oblivious as to why their nation is hated, and with equally fateful consequences.

    January 16, 2006 Issue

  4. Wat gewone Palestijnen weten waar Hamas voor staat? Heel erg veel meer dan jij Alexander. Je hebt geen flauw benul. Hamas bestaat namelijk uit ‘gewone Palestijnen’. Doe de moeite en lees de commentaren van mensen die wel weten waar het over gaat.

  5. helaas – ‘interessante tijden’ in het Midden Oosten

    “mensen die wel weten waar het over gaat”

    Lachwekkend! Wat ik vooral signaleer is dat agressieve religieuze idioten disproportioneel veel aandacht van de media krijgen en dat allerhande slecht geinformeerde figuren(want je eigen omgeving een beetje begrijpen is al een bijna onmenselijke inspanning) deze informatie vervolgens gebruiken om hun gevoel voor rechtvaardigheid ten toon te spreiden via veelal zeer simplistische zwartwit analyses.

  6. alexander mooi gezegd,terroristen hoor je op te sluiten,niet los te laten lopen!

    maar de vraag is,wie is nou de ware terrorist,de onderdrukte of de onderdrukker,de palestijnen of israel die zn eigen millitairen niet wilt bestraffen,ook al zitten ze fout!
    hoe kun je nou hamas terroristen noemen en israel niet,als je ziet dat hamas al meer dan 1 jaar 1 eenzeidig bestand van staakt het vuren naleeft en israel door blijft bombarderen?

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