lightning GAZA

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lightning GAZA

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-17 06:31 PM
Starting a new topic so discussion won't continue in wrong thread.

Events are still unfolding fairly rapidly and I'm hesitant to draw conclusions.

I agree with both patrickm and GuruJane that the US and Israel will now move rapidly towards a Palestinian State.

Don't agree with GuruJane that Fateh and Israel between them will round up Hamas sympathisers.  There's a lot of anger and bitterness between  Palestinian groups  (and against both  Fateh and Hamas  from the general public) but the widespread belief in a total breakdown partly reflects that angry rhetoric (and actions) from both sides and from those in despair about it, partly reflects the pipedreams of Israelis wishing for civil war among the Palestinians and most importantly reflects the tactical misdirection the US and Israeli leaderships are giving to demobilize hard line Zionist opposition to evacuating the West Bank. Explaining that aiding and arming Fateh and the PLO, releasing prisoners, dismantling checkpoints, freezing and evacuating settlements and starting negotiations about such issues as Jerusalem and the right of return is a "tactic" to defeat Hamas (and of course Iran!) goes down better than simply admitted the Palestinians have won.

I think there is a real (and disgraceful) factional fight between Hamas and Fateh, but it falls far short of civil war and I doubt there is any possibility of a Palestinian State in the West Bank without Gaza. Concretely the recent events are a reminder that a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank is just as essential a basis for negotiations as the 1967 borders. Continual references to the 1967 borders have tended to make people forget that there won't be a settlement without a corridor.

Hamas has behaved badly, but nowhere near as badly as presented. They could hardly be expected to just put up with cabinet meetings being fired on by security personnel and security commanders boasting about how many Hamas members they have killed and their intention to kill all of them, both military and civilian. Its fairly clear that most of Fateh in Gaza did not rally in support of the particular faction of security forces that Hamas targeted and that both sides are now stopping the cycle of revenge attacks.

If Israel was bent on stirring things up it would occupy the border between Gaza and Egypt. Instead they are calling for an international force (which only raises the necessity for such a force to replace the Israeli occupation in the West Bank). Only by isolating Gaza from Egypt could they prevent the obvious consequences of the total collapse of the financial siege against the Palestinian Authority, namely that funds will flow to Gaza as well as the West Bank because the Palestinian government does not share the Israeli dream of a split between the two.

The new government is led by a "third force" member (closer to the old Palestinian left that either Hamas or Fateh). Legally the emergency rule expires after 30 days, with Hamas still having a majority in the legislature, a large majority of support in Gaza and very significant support in the West Bank. Both Hamas and Fateh have been discredited by recent events and I think it more likely there could be a break from factional politics in the new government. Releasing Barghouti will change the whole political landscape.

Hamas is more likely to restore order in Gaza than was possible previously, clamping down on rocket attacks, forcing release of kidnapped journalist, suppressing the jihadi Al Quaeda groups that were developing. They would certainly isolate themsleves as a "common enemy" if they were to sabotage Israel reducing its checkpoints in the West Bank, closing settlements and opening final status negotiations, releasing prisoners etc. So why should one expect  them to  do something against their  interests?

The footage of Hamas triumphalism in looting Fateh offices etc certainly played badly (as has similar behaviour on the other side). The leadership on both sides seems determined to restrain it now.

PS This analysis from Daniel Levy seems unusually perceptive.

I differ mainly in that he seems to take the policy he is opposing seriously, despite having demonstrated that it is a complete non-starter. Whereas I assume that when a policy advocated obviously has opposite effects from the declared intentions or obviously could not be implemented, the explanation lies in "declaratory policy" demobilizing opposition to the real policy. Levy still doesn't seem to have grasped that his own advocacy of the "Geneva Agreements" never stirred Israeli public opinion but the flow of events with demonstrations that no other options can work is converging in that direction - accompanied by hysteria about Hamas and Iran rather than warm fuzzies towards the PLO far more successful in demobilizing the right than the peace camp ever was. (Even Netanyahu has come out with a "caution" against reoccupying Gaza immediately).

See also the links from that article. I find it hard to tell whether Indyk is actually in favour of the absurd policy Levy is criticizing or just helping to spread the smoke around.

 • posts moved here from "Biased ABC & Prime Minister Allawi" thread

Posted by keza at 2007-06-18 04:52 PM
The following posts have been moved to this more appropriate thread.   They were both posted prior to Arthur's  opening post (17/06/2006).

owenss wrote this:

In 2004 PatrickM wrote "Bush will get Israel out of most of the occupied West Bank and he will do it over the next two years as he sets up a Palestinian state."

Patrickm responded:

Steve; I take it that you,re holding me to account and demonstrating with my own words how hopelessly inaccurate I am?  Well don’t hold your breath for any strategic back-down from me just at the moment, as I think that (though I may be a year or two out in the tactical issue of timing typical of an optimist and the inexperienced) the conditions for an Israeli pull out from the West Bank have just arrived with flashing lights.  Events are moving very swiftly at present and Israeli pull outs from the West Bank are IMV on the way.   Bush will put the pressure right on because further delay is not in US interests and Israel is a US ‘dependency’ not the other way round.


I don’t think that there can be a unilateral Israeli withdrawal this time either, as the consequence of that action in Gaza is now plain to see.  There has to be a deal and that deal can only be as per the Geneva deal as I don’t believe Abbas will take less.  The coming week ought to be interesting, but any deal in the next few months will result in a Palestinian state shortly so I might be out by 100% in time but I will be 100% correct in outcome.


The Hamas total takeover in Gaza ironically produces the way out for Israel and the US from the failed now war for greater Israel that started in 1967.  Remember that is what is taking the time to deliver.  Israel and the US do not want to be seen as utterly defeated and now have a flimsy cover for dealing with the ‘moderates’ led by Abbas.  They have apparently been waiting around building huge settlements and so forth just so they could have ‘a suitable peace partner to deal with’.  Now they have one with the Co founder of Fatah, Abbas, as bad Hamas gets suitably sidelined in Gaza.


The Israeli situation just got dramatically worse not better.  The policy of not dealing with the Hamas led government but only with the ‘moderate’ Abbas has now produced a total Hamas controlled Gaza that Israel cannot just continue to control as a massive ‘prison’ hoping that will somehow make the Palestinian issue get better.  Everyone knows it won’t and that something must be done.  Zionism is in strategic tatters.  A few years ago everyone didn’t know that something must be done, and even last year some people suffered from grand delusions about 'mighty' Israel.  Those delusions have been cleared up a fair bit by practice.


The US will now give the required shove, and the settlers will start to be removed from ‘Judea and Samaria’.  Delay is costing the US big time and I imagine they are quite sick of this tail wagging the dog.  My prediction is that there will be a result from the US pressure in the short term future.  Settlers will start to be removed this year.  My current prediction is that Bush will get a result on the establishment of a Palestinian State before the end of his term.


Anyway hold your fire for a little while longer and then perhaps you may have a more substantial gloat.  On the other hand….

We will still just have to be patient.


No matter what happens on the time scale what do you say is happening to the forty year war for greater Israel?


Is this all about to be undone in a deal with the Palestinians or are the Zionists on the verge of victory?



BTW Keep an eye on the new Israeli Defense Minister

GuruJane wrote:

patrickm is certainly correct in saying there is (at last) a real opening for the establishment of the Palestinian State in the perhaps not-so-far future.

Abbas has appointed a financially literate independant as prime minister who is reportedly reputed to be incorruptible. The US has already said once the cabinet is sworn in formal funding will be returned to the PA, the financial boycott in other words will be at an end. Meanwhile Fatah and Israel between them will round up the Hamas activists and sympathisers in the West Bank. The new PA govt will have the support of the Arab League save for Syria.

The next possible step wiould be that Israel will release a substantial number of Fatah prisoners while Hamas prisoners will remain incarcerated.

After that it would be possible for substantive peace negotiations to resume where Camp David/Taba left off in 2000 which would culminate in the declaration of the Palestinian State in the West Bank. Gaza would be left to join later.


Of course Hamas and its backers will not sit idly by while this is happening. Most probably it would mount another raid into Israel  to provoke Israel into attacking Gaza. However if the US, Israel and Abbas can keep up the political momentum with Hamas having cast itself in the role  of common enemy (as is happening in Iraq with AlQ in an interesting parallel!) then an Israeli incursion into Gaza might not have the political effects in the West Bank that Hamas would be hoping for.


All of this is speculation of course, and only a possibility.

However I was struck by the footage of Hamas triumphalists looting Arafat's house and also trampling underfoot the posters of the faces of Arafat AND Abbas while looting the PA Presidents Gaza office and wondered how this was going to play for

West Bank television audiences?

For all the Fatah abuses and corruption since it returned to Palestine in '94, the senior leadership Arafat, Abbas etc have been carrying the "resistance" for more than 4 decades now, long before Hamas was ever thought of. As such they still inhabit a place in Palestinian memory and myth that Hamas can never reach. For the more secular West Bankers to be witnessing such behaviour from islamist upstarts must be quite shocking. Even I was shocked and found myself experiencing a "loyalty" moment to Abu Ammar!

Followed by owenss:

Patrickm is certainly correct. Patrickm IS certainly correct. Patrickm is certainly CORRECT. No, No matter how I say it it just doesnt sound right but back to Patrickm later.


Gurujane you are saying (unless I cant read) that civil war between Palestinians is the way forward.


Let me get this straight. Hamas which has gained  support  amongst Palestinians because it provides social services and makes war on Israel is going to be taken down by Fatah which has lost support amongst Palestinians because it is corrupt and makes peace with Israel. Fatah is going to ride into a Palestinian state by helping Israel round up and jail Hamas militants. This is how patrickm is correct?


You paint a picture of a new government being formed and money flowing in to the Palestinian Authority. But what about democracy. I thought the linch pin of last superpower was democratic revolution in the middle east. Your senario of Fatah- Israel collaberation is an anti democratic "solution"


Maybe Im reading you wrong and your just pulling my leg. Patrickm is certainly correct. Yes that must be it.


Back to Patrickm. Yes Patrick I did quote your prediction in the hope that seeing your own words would help you reflect on how silly a prediction it was but instead of saying yes it was a bit silly you compound it by saying that the same prediction will now come true in just over six months.


Mate do me a favour, you make loads of predictions that never turn up. From now on could you keep track of them and then you can out yourself.


PS do your remember predicting that the struggle in Ireland would become the next Vietnam. We must have been 20 something I still laugh only because I believed you.


Then again keep up the predictions and sooner or later Patrickm must certainly be correct.

GuruJane's reponse was:

No big deal, owenss. Hamas either chose or was coerced (I think the latter) to expel the PNA security forces from Gaza. Now it is attempting to gain control over the lawless clans, jihadis, AlQ groups and Israeli agent provocateurs who have been creating anarchy there since the Israeli withdrawal two years ago.


As result of Hamas action Abbas has been able to use  his powers to declare a state of emergency, appoint an emergency governent comprised of independents and technocrats (as opposed to corrupt Fatah flunkies) and outlaw all of Hamas' armed forces. The new PA government will have international recognition and the financial boycott will be lifted


My point was that this raises the possibility, no more than that, of a Palestinian state being established in the West Bank in the not so far future. Certainly Condaleeza Rice will be pushing for this as it was the US' arming of Fatah in Gaza in the first place that forced Hamas's hand which in turn gave Abbas the freedom of action  to create a whole new "reality" via use of his presidental power.


It has been little noticed that Abbas delayed giving the PNA security forces the order  to fight back  against Hamas until it was too late. In contrast, he moved very quickly when it was all over. There are dots here that can perhaps be connected?


The tone of your reply suggested moral outrage should be a factor when analysing geo politics, but I generally find that to be fruitless exercise, especially when discussing  the Middle East.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by patrickm at 2007-06-18 11:34 PM

Firstly I’d like to say that GuruJane is certainly correct in her last post ;)

Democracy for the Palestinian people would not be served by President Abbas simply copping the Hamas Gaza unilateral action and failing to creatively use the power that is vested in him as the Palestinian President.

But note how Steve (owenss) completely misunderstands this point.  He is forgetting that the situation had developed where Hamas was in a unity government and decided to abandon that path and resort to a military take over and the physical destruction of Fatah security offices etc in Gaza.

I won’t speculate as to whether Hamas were provoked by anyone, but Abbas is now furthering the democratic interests of the Palestinian peoples in the occupied West Bank and Hamas has complete responsibility in Gaza.  That is the reality that provides the opportunity to end the occupation of the West Bank (and the Golan heights as well). 

Gaza is not occupied and the 67 border is respected as far as I know.  The international community will not permit a humanitarian crisis so Israel will now have to work with the Hamas authority in Gaza to some extent or other.

The Israeli Defense Force is not going to reoccupy Gaza. That would destroy the opportunity to work with Abbas who has correctly formed a new government.  So opportunity ought to be the dominant mood yet it is not.


The best the MSM can do at the moment is summed up by shit like this;


‘And so a new complication is added to the puzzle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma known as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’


And this


More specifically, Bush and Olmert are expected to discuss the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which calls for enforcing the weapons embargo on Hizbullah, as well as the rather unlikely scenario of deploying an international force along the Philadelphi Route.


The fact is that prisons don’t operate when they are run by the prisoners and have a wide open back door to Egypt.  So ‘Hamastan’ is going to operate (hopefully without the tit for tat and now pointless rocket attacks) for the foreseeable future.  Sealing Gaza could only be achieved by occupying the Philadelphi Route and that would just provoke greater problems all over and make the IDF troops sitting ducks.  International forces won’t do it for the Israelis so they have to do the deal with Abbas and that deal must include Gaza that will then have to be made part of the united Palestinian state by the Palestinians themselves (after further elections and hopefully without a real civil war).


Bush is acting correctly in immediately agreeing to work with the new government and Olmert is as well.  This is not a full blown civil war and Abbas will (far from rounding up all Hamas troops - though some will no doubt have to be) be working hard to ensure that all violence is damped down and the Al Qaeda cells hunted and Islamic Jihad suppressed.

Fatah will not ‘collaborate’ with the occupying authorities.  What they will be moving towards is ending that occupation and then accepting responsibility for suppressing Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and only if absolutely required Hamas.  Fatah becoming more accountable to the Palestinian people as a secular organization is in the interests of democrats the world over, and also in US interests so these latest developments provide real opportunity if the moment is seized.

Abbas will try to win a Palestinian state without ‘starving’ the people of Gaza so monies handed over to Abbas will be further distributed to the peoples of Gaza.  Those who think that Abbas intends to harm the people of Gaza for the sake of Israel, or the US are utterly deluded.  After, with the prestige of achieving an acceptable deal for a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, will go to elections with Marwan Barghouti and the reformers leading a rejuvenated Fatah.

I think Hamas would lose such an election if the pace of this scenario was fast enough.  If not fast enough then Hamastan will entrench as would their painful development in the West Bank.  Everyone except perhaps Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad etc has an interest in rapid closure of the deal and its full and immediate implementation.  After all Hamas have sought a long term truce based on ending the occupation as well, so the deal that is required ought be enough to get them on board especially if the reformers are in charge of Fatah.

The war can’t end without a solution acceptable to the vast majority of the Palestinian people as negotiated through the PLO.  Unilateral ending of the occupation and withdrawal behind the wall will not work.  Olmert is not very popular and it looks like Barak will replace him after the next election and I think that Barak is clearly aware of the limits to what is negotiable; so again all good signs as far as I can see.

No solution can be acceptable to all the Palestinian people so it follows that some Palestinian groups will have to accept that or be suppressed once a Palestinian State is established. 

Fatah need to reform their administration and sweep away the corruption that saw them rejected at the elections.  They are doing that and when the prisoners / POW’s / hostages are released I think the process will be accelerated.  (namely Barghouti) I don’t think Steve disagrees that Fatah do need reform and that independents and technocrats at the moment offer a more reliable government to attend to that broader reform than would stuffing that government with those that require the reform.


Because ‘the linch pin of last superpower was democratic revolution in the middle east.’ one simply has to understand what revolutionary democrats are involved with and not lose your head as the MSM throws up the usual doom and gloom from the ‘intractable Palestinian problem.’

Steve; you are fully aware that Olmert has a withdrawal policy that has been stalled for one reason or another.  I have believed that the Israeli government have been trying to run the clock down on Bush and because of the general decline in US power they would probably get away with it.  Right now I can’t be sure but obviously I would grab the opportunity with both hands and brook absolutely no resistance from the Israeli government if I were Bush.  I could be wrong and not have a strong enough grasp of just how weak the US have become (even given my line expressed in ‘Paper tiger on the prowl’).  But just reflect on the difference between this from a year ago and the latest meeting with Bush being reported right now.



Meanwhile The Golan Heights are now also clearly on the agenda for return to Syria in exchange for a peace deal and I doubt that the Israeli government will try to separate that by much time from a settlement of the West Bank.  Not sure but I can’t see that it will achieve much and the Syrians can wait them out I think.  I suppose the US would like some delay on that issue but on the other hand they would probably just like anything resolved ASAP.


The real bottom line is that this is all coming into play and is doing so in the context of democratic elections that will be held and that will result in real politics from now on in Palestine.  Real democratic politics in Palestine will positively affect developments in Egypt, Jordan Lebanon Syria and the whole region will change.  This dramatic turn of events has the revolutionary flavor of a region emerging from stagnation.  This is what the US is seeking and what the Arab autocrats have feared.  This is why, ending of the Zionists war for greater Israel that has now dragged on for forty years since those six days of conquest in 1967, is in US, Palestinian, and even Israeli interests (if you can’t beat them join them).


No matter what, victory for the Palestinian peoples (though not total as the outstanding issues that are incorporated in the Geneva deal reveals) and defeat for the Zionists is now on the cards.  And ‘No matter how Steve says it, it just doesn’t sound right...’ It just does not fit with the usual defeatist line from the pseudo-left that he inevitably returns to.


PS On Steve's 'historical example', I do not remember any such line coming from me over Northern Ireland but it would have been 30 odd years ago and rather than be verballed will just claim some form of statute of limitation on this.  Perhaps his memory is recovering for the events from 12 years ago as well?

 • Marwan Barghouti is certainly correct

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-19 02:55 AM
Marwan Barghouti has released the following statement which spells out the way forward:

From my dark, small prison cell, I address the great Palestinian people to do the following:

1. Condemn the military coup against the legitimate Palestinian Authority and its institutions in the Gaza Strip.

2. Consider the military coup by Hamas in Gaza a dangerous threat to the Palestinian unity and cause, a shift in the choice of resistance and the destruction of the principles of partnership.

3. Consider the coup a threat to the democratic process and democratic choice, which led Hamas to win the legislative elections.

4. Fully support the decision to compose a new Palestinian government under Salam Fayyad, hoping it will restore the sovereignty of law and end the state of chaos in order to protect the Palestinian unity.

5. Censure any attacks against people or institutions of the Hamas movement in the West Bank, and absolutely refuse the extension of chaos into the West Bank.

6. Call on President Abbas, as the general commander of the Fatah movement, to appoint a new leadership of Fatah in the Gaza Strip.

7. Dismiss all the leaders of the security services and appoint new leaders capable of reforming and developing the security institutions, relying on professionalism. This will render the security services more efficient in attempts to defend the Palestinian homeland and citizens.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by GuruJane at 2007-06-19 03:47 PM

Some random thoughts/comments/observations:


Wasn't intending to suggest Fateh and Israel would act in concert. In fact Israel had already arrested most of the senior Hamas operatives in WB before it started, and all Fateh has been doing since is rounding up smaller fry.


As Patrick says, all will depend on a fast pace scenario. Fateh may well lapse  into its customary factionalism. However it's hard to see Fateh reaching out to Hamas in the near future, the defeat was too public and too humiliating. On the Israeli side, Netanyahu is far more likely to replace Olmert as PM than Barak is! Barak is widely seen in Israel as the  original architect of its present misfortunes. All reasons why a fast pace scenario is essential. However Bush, Rice and Olmert are not helping their cause by so publicly talking up Abbas.


Barghouti: Doubt that Olmert has the political capital to release Barghouti even if he was of a mind to. In any case,  release would be dependent on Abbas actually wanting Barghouti released, which am not sure he would at this stage? More likely a raft of Fateh prisoners who do not have "jewish blood" on their hands will be released quite quickly.  


Another dot:  a few days before Hamas' final offensive, Abbas suddenly pulled out of an imminent meeting with Olmert to discuss resumption of peace negotiations, giving a rather implausible excuse. Was curious about this at the time. In retrospect it is highly unlikely that Israeli intel would  have not known that Hamas was about to "bring it on". In which case, after having had time to prepare his responses, Abbas took 5 days to order the PA security forces to defend themselves, ensuring Hamas would win decisively without a drag out fight. Weakness or pre-meditation?


Some commentators are calling this "the 2nd Six Day War". It is quite bizarre to me that it has taken place during the 40th anniversary of the first Six Day War.


The Egyptians have announced they are moving their embassy from Gaza to the West Bank. No reactions from Saudi Arabia yet. I wonder what Abdullah is thinking now after having put Saudi political weight and prestige on the line with his Mecca initiative?


Marc Lynch at quotes Jordanian analysts, including a former editor of a Muslim Bro newspaper as saying Hamas by its behaviour as shown on television has lost the Arab media war. Lynch disputes this, but one would expect West Bank Palestinian attitudes, which are the only ones that count,  would be reflected in Jordan. So this is significant.


Hamas. Has it shot itself in the nethers? An indicator as to whether it is going to be able to achieve a monopoly of the use of force in Gaza is  when/if it secures the release of the BBC's Alan Johnston.  Otherwise it is going to have its hands full with the jihadis and AlQ who are even more purist and demanding that Hamas declare an Islamic State.  











 • Re: GAZA

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-19 11:02 PM
Some very half-baked responses to (some of) GuruJanes observations while still trying to catch up with a very fluid situation. Suggest numbering paras for future brief exchanges.

In fact Israel had already arrested most of the senior Hamas operatives in WB before it started, and all Fateh has been doing since is rounding up smaller fry.

That sounds like the sort of ludicrous impression one gets from media which describes Hamas as some sort of terrorist underground organization based in Syria and sponsored by Iran (I even saw a recent item mentioning that they were Shia!).

Hamas is and will remain a major factor in the West Bank (as will Fateh in Gaza). Some of its senior "operatives" are in the Legislative Council, where they have a majority.


Bush, Rice and Olmert are not helping their cause by so publicly talking up Abbas.

Dahlan was making a similar complaint about continuous warm embraces from Israel. I doubt that Bush, Rice or Olmert imagine that their remarks are of any help to Abbas. Insofar as they have an audience it is in the US and Israel (or perhaps Albania...).

It is Israel's siege of the Palestinian Authority that is collapsing with major reversals of US and Israeli policy required. Naturally that has to be presented as a blow against somebody and in support of somebody else.

Focus on the key point that the US and Israel are now going to have to make the moves almost everybody (else) has been demanding. There is still massive opposition to that in Israel (and from Israel lobby in US) and the delay and maneuvers have been about demonstrating that there is no alternative.

Making Abbas seem like a US puppet and Israeli collaborator is exactly what the US and Israel need for their domestic public opinion, despite it being unhelpful to Abbas.

3. Barghouti will be released, hopefully quickly. Abbas has already moved against Dahlan (not just Hamas) and against the old guard in his recent appointments as Barghouti has explicitly called for in demanding reorganization of Fateh security forces and new Fateh leadership in Gaza (and cessation of the revenge attacks on Hamas in  West Bank).

It will be somewhat harder to present Barghouti as an Israeli collaborator etc but it can be presented as a favour to Abbas to help him fight the terrible dangers from Hamastan and of course Iran.

The screaming about "jewish blood" etc is from people who still don't admit defeat and can see that the Israeli government is leading them to defeat. If they had some plausible program they would not be screaming opposition to policies that undermine Israeli positions but following policies that could prolong Israeli rule over the Palestinians from government.

BTW Shimon Peres had to promise Meretz that he would sign Barghouti's release before being elected President.

4. I agree that Abbas "failure" to give orders to fight back and subsequent very speedy actions indicate pre-meditation. As I mentioned the fighting was only with Dahlan's faction, not with the Fateh forces in Gaza who stayed out of it. Absence of many Fateh leaders including Dahlan was probably not accidental either.

The fact that things were coming to a head was well enough known for Denis Ross to be bloviating about it in wapo more than a fortnight ago (June 4).

Cannot be certain yet but Israel obviously had adequate notice to prepare for occupying the Egyptian Gaza border as an  "immediate response" and it makes little sense to delay if that is what they are going to do.

5. So I think yes, Hamas does now have a monopoly on the use of force in the Gaza strip. Israel can only make occasional forays. Its interesting the shift to Israeli irrelevance as it gets "shaken off" (intifada).

6. Unless Egypt wants to take on the role of occupier by keeping the border closed there is a certain sense in which Gaza could now be said to be no longer occupied. Previously all land borders as well as sea and air were under Israeli control (indirect via European "monitors" for Egyptian border). That may no longer be the case.

7. Both Palestinian sides are committed to the funds that will now flow in going to Gaza as well as West Bank. That isn't a point which the US or Israel wish to highlight as it makes nonsense of most of the bloviating.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by owenss at 2007-06-20 03:44 AM

I agree with Arthur that "Events are unfolding rapidly and Im hesitant to draw conclusions."


Where I disagree is when he says "the US and Israel will move rapidly towards a Palestinian State"


I disagree because I think the Palestinians will have the final say. So far no one has done anything unreasonable. Hamas attacked because they felt that a US armed Fatah was a threat and Abbas sacked a unity government that was at war with itself.


Any democratic Palestinian state will have to come to some accomodation with Hamas. Last time I looked they were the most popular party and this will be the sticking point.


We could rapidly move to a Palestinian state if Hamas were to change its politics or Israel did. Ive been advised not to hold my breath so I wont.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by GuruJane at 2007-06-20 02:55 PM

These are short as am moving today and will be then tortured by dial up for a few weeks.


1. Media reports or no when Hamas abandoned the ceasefire  short time ago Israel proceeded to arrest the remaining WB heavy weights and figureheads, including the Minister for Education. Just before the current offensive Wapo published a story about Hamas's "islamisation" of the Palestinian curriculum.


As things unfold am beginning to lose any doubt that Israel, PLO and Egypt have been aware of and  preparing for  Hamas putsch ever since the Mecca Agreement.


3. Shimon Peres will promise anybody anything to get a vote. It's a well known fact!


4. Hamas has a clear history of provoking Israeli attacks when it needs to advance/distract attention from  its own agenda. Can't see why it would be any different now, and with Barak as Defense Minister I expect a decisive  (one way or nother) Israeli action in the fairly near future. Also am beginning to suspect that Hamas is fast losing public support in Gaza, although I don't have any  firm evidence.


5. Disagree in that I can't seen any clear evidence that Hamas has the monopoly of force yet. If it had, Johnston would have been released already.


6. The Egypt/Israel border has not been under IDF control since Israel pulled out of Gaza. This is what led to a flood of arms coming into Gaza, plus the infilitration of Al Q. Hamas may find itself confronted by the same crisis the non AlQ Sunni groups have been experiencing in Iraq since Al Q hijacked  the insurgency via ruthlessness majeure.


7. Agree. Refer you to Abbas' "address to the nation" Wed night.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by patrickm at 2007-06-21 06:17 AM

The appointment of Tony Blair, as The Quartet’s, Special Envoy, (after he steps down as British PM) is another good indication that Bush is pushing full steam ahead to get the settlers out of the West Bank, and a Palestinian state established before he leaves office.


Blair has always been ahead of the U.S. Administration in wanting to apply greater pressure to the Israeli government, so the apparent Israeli acceptance of Blair, (I don’t think they had much of a choice) without much dissent is a good indication that we will see the IDF removalists recommence their work again this year.


Does anyone know of any large home construction projects ready to roll in Israel?  They are going to need them.


Obviously an Israeli deal with the PLO, then Syria and Lebanon would be the best possible outside influence over the Iraq front and would do wonders for the U.S. Republican, and British Labor party’s election prospects.   So why are people not optimistic about the chances of rapid development?


The entire Islamic world would undoubtedly be influenced when such a shameful period of western humiliation of the Arab peoples (Christian, Muslim and secular) is brought to an end –as we know it must be.  So, ‘t’were well it were done, t’were well it were done quickly’.  Yet, the hatred for Bush and the false certainty that oil is the real motive for the war prevents clear thinking on what this stage of the wider Middle Eastern picture requires.


As a by-product the (‘Persian’) theocrats in Iran will be particularly wrong footed over an essentially Arab issue.  The up-side of making a peace deal with ‘the moderates’ in Fatah and extending that to the ‘democrats’ in Lebanon (where Hezbollah still controls the border region) is so great that also extending the process to the Syrians (for the sake of ending support to Hamas) and clamping down on the Iraqi border is just too tempting a deal not to try for it. 


After all, if a total withdrawal has been the price with Egypt, Lebanon, and in Gaza; and all but that (with negotiated swaps) over the West Bank, then settlers in the Golan area will not believe they have any future.  As far as I can see, there is nothing to be gained once the Israeli government has gone that far to not complete the deal on all borders.



I’ve always thought that the ‘draft Condi for Pres or VP to McCain’ idea would turn out to be just a dream, but that dream is still viable if the pace of the Israel-Palestine deal and its implementation were to crank right up.  Rice is no doubt best placed to follow through on the next stage of draining the Middle East swamp as it inevitably breaks out in Darfur, Egypt etc.  But who knows I might even buy into that fantasy if the situation continues to unfold at the current rate.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-21 01:15 PM
Re GuruJane's points 1-7

1. Israel has something like 12,000 Palestinian prisoners. Not sure how big the increase has been recently but certainly not a major jump. Hamas claims Fateh has arrested about 120 over last week. This would be to prevent incidents against emergency government taking over Hamas controlled Ministries etc. Attempting to actually suppress Hamas would require arresting tens of thousands and would not be contemplated short of  civil war. Fateh has not been suppressed in Gaza either.

BTW the Hamas newsagency at that domain seems to be going strong while wafa has been silent since June 14.

(2)  Yes.  But not just Israel, PLO and Egypt and not just since the Mecca agreement. There has been open conflict since late last year.

3. As well as the Shimon Peres item there have been lots of indications of preparing public opinion on the Israeli side for releasing Marwan Barghouti (that is why there has also been lots of hostility about it). There never was any alternative but now it has been demonstrated to all that they have no alternative.

4. Current Hamas agenda would certainly not want distraction of a conflict with Israel. Remains to be seen, but if Israel wanted one it makes no sense to have delayed since recent events were NOT a surprise. Barak withdrew from Lebanon. I doubt he would imagine that occupying the Egyptian/Gaza border (which would require dispossessing about 15,000 to 20,000 Gazans) would be a good idea. It would place the Israeli forces in pretty much the same sort of position exposed to continuous attrition that he got out of in Lebanon.

This Palestinian opinion poll looks very interesting. Period is from June 14 so unclear about views when dust settles but certainly suggests general reaction is increased hostility to both Hamas and Fateh, not just Hamas.

BTW note that Barghouti would win an election by a landslide, even in Gaza and 75% favour holding fresh elections.

5. Apparantly Johnston is being held by a gangster clan led by an illiterate in an area that is still "no go" but now surrounded by Hamas forces. Obviously the general lawlessness in Gaza will not disappear overnight but it is much harder to clamp down when  criminal gangs etc can maneuver between opposing forces than when one authority is clearly in charge. Lots of indications that Hamas is very focussed on "law and order". Ban on wearing masks and attempts at disarming of clans very indicative.

BTW sample size may be inadequate but note that opinion poll suggests that on acts such as the kidnapping of foreigners, the burning of internet cafe’s, and the bombing of foreign schools there is greater opposition (85%) and less support (2%) in Gaza (where there has been a lot of such incidents) than in West Bank (82% opposition and  3% support).

6. My understanding is that Israel previously had remote control (including TV surveillance) of the Rafah Egyptian border crossing point with veto over who and what could pass (enforced via European monitors) with border closed by Egypt whenever requested by Israel. Absence of Israeli armed forces meant that there was extensive smuggling via underground tunnels.

At present I believe the Egyptian border is closed, but likelihood would seem to be that it would become a normal border crossing rather than one subject to Israeli strangulation and smuggling to bypass that. Hence the possible change of status of Gaza to no longer being occupied as a normal border not controlled by an enemy power is very different from one controlled by an occupier where there happens to be a lot of smuggling.

I am speculating that Egypt would cooperate with emergency government in requiring documents authorised by that government rather than also requiring Israeli approval. Previous Israeli control arrangement was enforced on the Palestinian side of the border by PA, not on the Egyptian side.

Just speculation. I haven't seen anything confirming above. But I was struck by the Israeli proposal for an international force to block the border as a clear indication that Israel no longer expects it to remain blocked at all and further preparation of Israeli public opinion for replacing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with an international force (a concept first introduced to Israelis as a "victory" in Lebanon).

Re patrickm's (unumbered) points:

8. I hadn't noticed the Blair Quartet story until you mentioned it. Still no official confirmation that I have seen, but the "no comments" do seem to amount to unofficial confirmation. Would certainly confirm "full steam ahead"!

9. I did see some mention of housing projects for returning settlers to change the demographic balance in Arab  majority areas within  Israel.  But  I wouldn't  be expecting massive evacuations of the main settlements before Bush leaves office.  Will be a protracted, staged process after the agreements are reached but one based on actual designation of borders they will withdraw behind rather than attempts to hold on. Key breakthroughs immediately are starting to release prisoners, remove checkpoints and open final status negotiations to unfreeze the whole process.

10. The overwhelming pessimism results from the 40 years history so far. A lot of effort has been put into convincing people that nothing will change.

11. I don't understand your discussion of  Iran,  Lebanon and Syria and "moderates" in Fateh. The blockage has always been Israeli refusal to withdraw from West Bank. The US conflict with Syria is about Lebanon (where Israel would prefer Syria to remain in and the US wants them to stay out).

Syrian "backing for Hamas" is a non-issue. The Israeli government knows perfectly well where Hamas is actually based and that Syria (like Iran) does not even have a common border.

12. Any deal has to be with Palestinian people as a whole (including diaspora), not with "moderates". The changes required are in Israeli policy. Hence the complex maneuvering to exhaust all other Israeli options while retaining the perception that Palestinian intransigence is what is being overcome.

Although there is real and disgraceful faction fighting between Hamas and Fateh the focus in media on "moderates" as the hope for peace has much more to do with adapting Israeli public opinion  than with reality. Israeli measures that imply acceptance of defeat can be presented as assisting the "moderates" against Hamas (and of course Iran). But the point is that the US is now openly joining Europe in requiring those measures (and Israeli government accepting them as "tactics" "to support moderates" against Hamas and Iran - when not accepting defeat they follow opposite tactics).

Hamas is not going to obstruct the Israelis from dismantling checkpoints, releasing prisoners etc and has already agreed to PLO conducting negotiations and final agreements being submitted to referendum. While things are very heated at the moment, both Hamas and Fateh have to be included in both the PLO and the Palestinian state. Nobody serious imagines otherwise. (The propaganda that peace won't be possible unless "moderates" suppress Hamas is just Israel's way of saying "no").

13. Yes, things are certainly firming up for "draft Condi". Another straw in the wind is Bloomberg announcing he's now an independent (though not yet a candidate). Could still remain an open possibility very late (ie only if she does preside over a breakthrough), even at a deadlocked convention between 3 or more no hopers. Hard to see any reason for other Republican candidates not to defer to her if she does run as they all look like getting slaughtered otherwise. Confirmation as Vice-President if Cheney resigns (health) would be straight forward with Negroponte already confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State to replace her smoothly. Democrats seem to have fully committed themselves to running as defeatists.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by GuruJane at 2007-06-26 12:44 PM

Arthur, have you any evidence to suggest that Hamas does NOT regard itself as being at war with the PLO?

Seems to me Hamas has been pursuing a classic strategy since its election of preparing for then executing a coup in Gaza all the while smokescreening its intentions by spurious negotiations and ceasefires? The next phase being a period of digestion  and consolidation in preparation for  forcing a similar action in the West Bank after which it would expect to resume its struggle against the zionist state? I see no evidence Hamas is at all interested in a two state solution?

Reading between the lines, the strategy is spelled out here, I reckon:,1518,490160,00.html

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-27 01:37 PM
GuruJane its very difficult to follow what's happening. Appearances are often deceptive.

Here for example is a recent picture of Hanniyeh and Dahlan full of smiles:

They were congratulating each other on the occasion of the formation of the unity government in March - the photo accompanies a Haaretz article on Dahlan being appointed headed of the National Security Council to unify security services.

Currently Hamas is denouncing Dahlan as an arch-traitor and more than hinting that Abbas is on the same road, while Abbas has denounced Hamas as murderous terrorists.

Most "analysis" is either hailing or denouncing an alliance between Israel and Fateh to crush Hamas following the failure of Dahlan to do this on Israel's behalf.

If, as these "analysts" assume (on both sides), Fateh has joined with Israel to crush Palestinian resistance led by Hamas, then certainly there would be no difficulty overthrowing Fateh in the West Bank.

But since it hasn't, then equally certainly there is no way Hamas could launch a civil war against Fateh in the West Bank. As I mentioned before they were able to defeat Dahlan's forces in Gaza so easily because most of Fateh in Gaza did not fight this.

Here's Ohlmert writing about Dahlan in the Wall Street Journal of June 3, 2002:

Many are placing their new hopes on Gaza preventive security service boss Mohammed Dahlan. Mr. Dahlan, a rising star on the Palestinian stage, is being presented as the man who can unify all of Arafat's security forces and bring order to the PA. Word has it that he just returned from a trip to Washington where he got high marks from the National Security Council. (Mr. Dahlan denies ever going.) Either way, Mr. Dahlan is the man who has presided over an ever-fortified terrorist network. Gaza, the home to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, became a base for some of the most heinous terrorist attacks unleashed against Israel.

On his watch, Mr. Dahlan permitted Gaza to become a safe haven for the hundreds of fugitive terrorists fleeing Israeli forces. Among those being sheltered is his childhood friend Mohammed Dief, a leading Hamas mastermind with the blood of scores of Israelis on his hands. In the meantime, Mr. Dahlan's district became the primary launching grounds for the hundreds of Kessem missiles fired at Israel.

Mr. Dahlan's involvement in terrorism has not been confined to mere nonfeasance but, rather, gross malfeasance as well. Mr. Dahlan, along with his assistant Rashid Abu-Shabak, are the primary suspects in the terror attack on an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom in November 2000. The bombing of the bus left half a dozen children maimed, and seriously injured an American citizen, Rachel Asaroff. In response to this brutal terror attack on Jewish school children, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak dispatched Israeli planes to strafe Mr. Dahlan's Gaza headquarters.

In Israel, we are frequently lectured that we must do business with the unsavory assortment of dictators, strongmen and criminals that surround us. This, we are told, is the nature of the neighborhood we live in. As mayor of Jerusalem, I have in my public duties the unfortunate experience of sitting down with many individuals I do not necessarily like. But the current thinking that Mr. Dahlan can bring reform and law enforcement to the Palestinians is totally misguided. No democratic state should ever allow itself to do business with those individuals who deliberately target a school bus.

While the State Department and envoy Burns are to be admired for their determination to forge a peace agreement on Israel's behalf, their zealousness is beginning to chafe. Seeking a "regional conference at all costs," and hanging hopes on a reorganized Palestinian security force under the sole leadership of one who has himself been involved in serious terrorist attacks sends an unacceptable message. Criminals such as Mr. Dahlan and Arafat can never be reformed; they must be eradicated by force.

We're talking about events in the Byzantine Middle East. Its more interesting to pay attention to what people are not saying and not doing than to what they say.

I do think the conflict between Hamas and Fateh is deep and serious and will not be resolved quickly. However the talk of civil war seems to come mainly from "analysts" trying to explain why Israel is suddenly reversing the measures it has been taking against its main enemy - the PLO. Explaining that as an incitement to civil war among the Palestinians is helpful when the only other explanation would be that the Israeli government is admitting defeat.

For what it's worth I suspect the intensity of the rhetoric between Hamas and Fateh at the moment is partly due to needing to deflect attention from other developments.

For example the interview with Zahar's you linked to confirms that Hamas has suspended rocket attacks on Sderot since taking power, due to Israel suspending its attacks. In view of the expectations of some Hamas members that they would no longer be restrained by Dahlan and Fateh, those circumstances would call for heightened rhetoric against Fateh.

My impression is that Abbas has moved decisively against Dahlan, as demanded by Hamas. That would certainly call for heightened Fateh rhetoric against Hamas.

BTW Hamas has quite explicitly confirmed that it is willing to accept a 10 year truce with Israel if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows a Palestinian State to be established within those borders. That is rather more than a "sign".

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-06-27 03:36 PM

Comrade Gurujane says " I see no evidence Hamas is at all interested in a two state solution? "

My feeling is that if a two state solution existed, then some sort of compromise deal would have been hammered out by now. What now looks a possibility is actually a "three state solution", although whether Gaza and the West bank can be considered viable and whether this is anywhere near a solution is doubtful to say the least.

It is a hard concept to envisage but what about a "one state solution" ? It has many advantages. There would be no borders to argue over. There would be free movement for all so that refugees would have the right of return. The Jewish settlers would be able to stay where they were in the West Bank.

LS  believe in progress, rationality and modernity. Religious divisions and superstition should really have no place in the 21st century. A two state solution for South Africa was never seriously considered, why should it be for Palestine? 


 • Re: GAZA

Posted by patrickm at 2007-06-28 06:09 AM

Guru; I just read  the interview with Zaher  'We Will Try to Form an Islamic Society'  (in Spiegel magazine) as you suggested, but I think it reveals something quite different.  Apart from the way that it’s a bit of a beat up (note how Zahar, who strikes me as a straight forward conservative, says in answer to the Speigel interviewer: How would a Hamas-led Islamic state look?

Zahar: There would be no difference from how it looks today…

Hamas is trying not to spook the masses in the West Bank because it wants Gaza to be different but knows there is a long, medium and short term to their struggle.  They want to unite Palestinians to fight Israel and would know that disunity could be disastrous.  But they have correctly reasoned that taking control of Gaza is not disastrous either for them or other Palestinians still occupied in the West Bank.  They have pushed their envelope.

Hamas might ‘regard itself as being at war with the PLO’ but will the Palestinian people accept such a war and support it?  I think that Hamas was surprised that it won the election and have been flexibly responding to the evolving situation (only lately ‘preparing for then executing a coup in Gaza’).

But if, and because Hamas is not interested in a two state solution.

The next phase is a period of digestion and consolidation in preparation for  forcing a similar action in the West Bank after which it would expect to resume its struggle against the Zionist state?


Then the struggle that Fatah has before it is very straight forward.

Gaza will remain the tail to the West Bank dog, and Hamas is counting on the period ahead delivering nothing but further misery from the occupation and thus eroding Abbas and Fatah further.  They expect (having shown over the next couple of years that they are not mad Mullahs, or corrupt officials) to spread their influence in the WB over time, and they would if the future pans out as these conservatives imagine.

They speak in exactly the same terms as their conservative friends in the pseudo-left like Robert Fisk who also believe that a deal will not be done and that the worldly wise smugly know that the Israeli government will never give up the West Bank without presumably house-to-house fighting.

When Zahah answers the Spiegel question: "If an Islamic state is the ideal, why are there not more of them?"  by saying: "If there were free and fair elections throughout the Arab world, Islamic forms of government would win everywhere…"

 He is quite correct. But I doubt him with regard to a West Bank free of Israeli occupation, with a reformed Fatah led by Marwan Barghouti - provided this is in the next few years.

Time, is really important to the US Administration and also the PA led by Abbas, and ought now be important to the Israeli government (and I found this interesting especially with respect to the views of Livni ) given that time is not important to the real perhaps anti-two-state enemy it faces in a growing Islamist Hamas. 

As everyone knows, this is not the first time that Olmert and Livni have sounded like a prime minister and a leader of the opposition. The residues of the Second Lebanon War and the testimony before the Winograd Commission still hover between the two. The fresh lesson of the war does not allow the foreign minister to efface herself before the prime minister, when such an essential issue is at stake. But the fresh wound of her mini-revolt against him obliges her to behave with extra caution in the coming months. The final Winograd report, due to be published at the end of October, could open her way to the Prime Minister's Bureau. This time she has to ensure to not look back and discover she has been left alone. 

The debate over dismantling the Palestinian unity government has been attracting more key individuals from the coalition in the direction of Abu Mazen. In negotiations with Fatah's leadership they are identifying an opportunity to postpone the premature breakup of their own government. Infrastructure Minister Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, a close associate of the Labor Party chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has openly urged Olmert to make hay before the next blow from Winograd. Fuad told him that only a new peace initiative, no matter with whom, Palestinians or Syrians, will save him and the government from Winograd's claws.

That would give the players about four months of deal-making time.

The bottom line is that Hamas has stopped its attacks on Israel and there is more than ‘trading kisses’ going on over the occupation.  But given that a period of consolidation is in order for Hamas at the moment they are not about to cause significant problems, or try to derail whatever Abbas is doing to get the occupation ended and a Palestinian State established.  They just don’t believe that a deal worth having will be done.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What will Hamas' future relationship to Israel be?

Zahar: … We won't discuss politics, because the Israelis have no political agenda with us. The political agenda of Condoleezza Rice and Ehud Olmert with President Mahmoud Abbas consists of trading kisses every two weeks -- but with empty hands. We will only talk about essential things.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: At the moment there are no attacks on Israel by Hamas' military wing. Is this a new doctrine?

Zahar: Yes, at the moment we have to deal with two enemies at the same time. …

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called this a good moment to push forward with the peace process. Will Gaza and Hamas definitely stay out of any such talks?

Zahar: What kind of peace process is it? There will only be lots of chit-chat. Meanwhile the occupation will continue, and the Israelis will remain here to destroy our lives.

and later:

Zahar: Fatah in the West Bank will receive money, and they will have to pass it on to Gaza. If it doesn't, it will lose Gaza forever. …

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The split between Hamas and Fatah has never been wider. Are you still in contact with one another?

Zahar: Yes, we speak to each other. But we're looking for the true Fatah so its members can take part in our new organization and plans for the future. The true, pure Fatah is the real loser (in this conflict) because its party in the West Bank is collaborating with Israel. In Gaza we have beaten those elements that collaborate with Israel. We have beaten everyone who represented an obstacle -- the ones who wanted to keep us from defending ourselves.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The militant wings of Fatah and Hamas have been fully armed over the last few months. Are these weapons still in circulation?

Zahar: There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around €3.50 -- now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America!

The US Administration knows  that a ten-fold fall in the price of Bullets over 2 years was a sure outcome of ending the occupation in Gaza and it will only get worse as Hamas prepares to fight an expected rubble to dust conflict with the Israeli Army, and continues to stockpile the anti-tank and anti-helicopter weaponry required.  But the Israelis mostly want an end to this shit as well, so I don’t see why war, civil, or otherwise ought to happen. 


I don’t know who in Israel is not convinced that there is nothing to be gained from continuing a forty-year failed war but I don’t think it includes Barak or Livni and I don’t see Olmert staying much past December after the next hammer falls at the end of October beginning of November. 


I have become very confident that something big is brewing as far as the US is concerned, the only question is if the Olmert government is going to try or get away with delaying past the US elections.  Nothing is showing up in the MSM yet!

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by GuruJane at 2007-06-29 01:48 AM

cyberman: as I see it, the one-state solution could only be brought about by either UN rescinding the 1947 resolution (establishing Israel as a jewish state) and the 1949 resolution (admitting Israel/jewish state  into UN on the armistice lines)


Israelis voluntarily voting its sovereign state out of existence


Israel surrendering after a comprehensive miliary defeat.


Can you comment on the likelihood of any of these three conditions occurring?  Is there any other possible condition you can think of that would bring a one state into being?

On two states: can't see how this solution is viable either, given the horrendous problems the Palestinians would have in absorbing the Palestinian diaspora. In fact this is one thing I suspect all sides privately agree upon, ie none of them,  including Hamas, wants the diaspora horning in on their own fiefdoms, so the maximimilist stand off on the issue suits them all.

Three states. Maybe better to call it a 2 and a half state solution.

That is, a Palestinian State is declared in West Bank before the final issues (like diaspora) have been agreed to. Gaza to be declared part of that state formally but not officially until Hamas agrees to join PLO, enfold its militia into PNA, accepts previous agreements signed by PLO, PNA with Israel etc etc.


Myself think the last is doable and one that Tony Blair will work towards. Its benefit would be none of the parties have commit to the diaapora, just put it off to another day ie 22nd century. However it depends on exactly how fractured and corrupt Fateh really is. Guess, we're are about to find out.



Can see the sense of much of what you're saying.

But the thing  you're not taking into account about Hamas and the PLO - I think - is that the (secular) PLO recognises Israel and Hamas doesn't and won't  because Hamas is a fundamentalist, religious, Islamic group  whose credo comes straight from God. Bottom line is, there's no ultimate rationality about it? 

Hamas mission is to  convert "good" Fateh members into their fold and defeat, take control of the others who won't convert. This seems pretty clear to me from that interview. You didn't quote it, but there is a point where Zahar clearly implies bombing attacks on Fateh in the West Bank. Can we imagine it? Palestinian-to Palestinian, Gaza - West Bank suicide attacks?


Also you guys are so committed to the idea that Barghouti will be released and somehow this will solve everything? Accepting (which I don't) Israel was prepared to release him in the forseeable future, what makes you think that Abbas (and the PLO hierarchy) actually wants him released? Why would Hamas want him released, for that matter? At the end, they're all politicians looking after their own power bases. Which is why, imo, they don't want the diaspora back in a hurry and nor would they want Barghouti.


I fear you  are all falling into the trap of yearning for a "strong man".




 • Re: GAZA

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-06-29 09:46 PM

Comrade Gurujane,

You are quite right, a single state solution isn't going to be easy and looks to be a long way off. But then, so is any other proposed 'solution'.  To answer your second point: It would be impossible for Israelis themselves to address the issue through their so-called democratic system. Any party that disputes the fundamentally Jewish nature of the the Israeli state is prohibited from participating in elections. Even if they wanted to, under their present constitution, the Israelis could not voluntarily vote the Israeli state out of existence.

Without wishing to minimise the difficulties, but rescinding the 1947 UN resolution can't be one of the hardest,  the single state solution is a possibility which should be considered and explored. If you type the phrase into Google there are many internet posts  but, of course,  you don't see the capitalist press having much , if anything, to say on the subject.

The Palestinian community must of course decide on their own political course, but if they were to accept that the Israelis themselves had made a two state solution impossible, and instead decided to campaign for equal citizenship and civil rights in a united state of Israel/Palestine, I would imagine that this would bring a look of horror to the faces of many US and Israeli politicians!

The US supports the Israeli state to the tune of $5 billion every year. Every shell or bullet fired by the Israelis is effectively paid for by the US taxpayer.   No US government which is so openly partisan against the interests of the Arab peoples there has the slightest chance of being seen as a progressive or pro-democratic  force in the region. All the talk about "draining the swamps etc" on  other threads on this website is just so much nonsense in this context.





 • Re: GAZA

Posted by GuruJane at 2007-06-30 01:34 AM

cyberman, are you referring to an attempt by one of the right wing zionist parties to ban an Israeli/Arab MK who was campaigning on the issue of overturning the jewish nature of the state in one of the elections not so long ago? If so - and taking into account my rusting  memory - I think you will find that the application was upheld by  an electoral commission  or similar which gave it much publicity at the time but the decsion was then quickly reversed by the Israeli Supreme Court, which did not get so much publicity.  As far as  am aware any candidate seeking election to the Knesset is free to campaign in favour disbandoning the jewish nature of the state and this issue was settled by the Israeli Supreme Court.


Rescinding the 1947 UN resolution can't be "one of the  hardest" ? Under UN rules the '47 resolution had to be passed by two thirds of the Assembly. Haven't checked, but assume a recission would require a similar majority?


In addition, if the UN were in effect to vote to disband a sovereign state, recognised by the UN in 1949, and replace it with some other state, then this would create a precedent that could be used against other sovereign state members of the UN. Do you think the sovereign states who make up the UN would want to create such a precedent?


You say "any other solution" is also "a long way off". I'm not so sure about that. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Palestine achieving statehood in the next 12 months, for no other reason than establishing the  Palestinian State  has been an imperative driving US policy interests since 9/11, as was the removal of Saddam and the Baath regime. Tony Blair understands this, and he is now the Quartet's envoy, surprsie, surprise. 





 • Re: GAZA

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-06-30 06:42 PM

Comrade Gurujane,

The ex-MK I think you are referring to is Azri Bishara. You may be right in that the Israeli Supreme Court later overturned his original ban. However that wasn't the end of the matter. His parliamentary privilege was later revoked, politically motivated charges were laid against him, and he was forced to resign as an MK in April of this year. The last I heard was that he is living abroad and faces arrest and imprisonment if he returns to Israel. This is not the first time that Arab MKs and political parties have faced persecution. In the 1960s the al Ard movement was declared to be illegal, and its leaders were exiled. See.,7340,L-3387100,00.html

Although they are working on new written one which seems to be giving them some trouble, Israel’s constitution is generally considered to consist of the 1948 Declaration of Independence and a collection of 11 'Basic Laws'. The declaration of independence sets a high moral tone. You'd never guess, but it includes the following "it (the State of Israel) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture." If we take the Israelis at their word, a single state solution is very much a possibility.

You may also be right when you say that a Palestinian state is nearer than we might think. However, if it happens, it will be no more of a solution than the creation of the Bantustans were a solution to the South African conflict. It will further emphasise religious and ethnic divisions and therefore make the situation worse. There is a high degree of concern within the Israeli ruling classes over the demographic make up of the Israeli population and the creation of an pseudo-independent Palestinian state would certainly strengthen the hand of those who are pushing for another round of ethnic cleansing.

Ethnic cleansing is itself actually a misnomer. A large percentage of the Israeli population are ethnically indistinguishable from their Palestinian neighbours. The range of Israeli ethnic groups varies from Blonde Nordic to Black African. I recently read a report that a tribe of Peruvian Indians had converted to Judaism and migrated to Israel! The correct term should therefore be religious cleansing. In other words, to be a citizen of the State of Israel you really have to adhere to a certain set of superstitious beliefs and scriptures, which are almost certainly historically false. Is this any basis for citizenship of any country in the 21st century?  

Finally, if there is one thing that the UN are good at, it's passing resolutions. We can all have every confidence in them to be able to come up with a suitable new one to recognise the new state of Israel/Palestine when it finally does happen. 

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by arthur at 2007-07-01 12:13 PM
This exchange between GuruJane and cyberman started silly and is getting really silly.

Some of my thoughts on current events can be found posted to equally silly discussions here (and follow links back from there to more).

There really isn't much point discussing what is going on with people who think that the term ethnic cleansing is more applicable to Serbs and others than to Israeli Jews and Palestinians or that "to be a citizen of the State of Israel you really have to adhere to a certain set of superstitious beliefs and scriptures" (there is actually a higher proportion of atheists in Israel  than in most Western countries).

Not really worth explaining why a 3 or 2.5 state solution is a non-starter either.

Re Barghouti, it doesn't matter whether Hamas or Fateh actually wan't him released. They have both demanded it, whether they want it or not, which says something about his importance. The question is whether Israel will do it. If they won't they have been behaving very strangely in building up expectations and would be placing themselves in a position where they will eventually be having to explain that they are unable to negotiate with the elected President because they are holding him in prison.

There may well be some "yearning for a strong man" among Palestinians but the point is that his position actually makes sense and consequently has support.

BTW Hamas is bad enough but I don't think its fair for patrick to compare them with their conservative friends in the pseudo-left convinced that no deal will be done, let alone GuruJane's claim of no ultimate rationality. They are a serious and disciplined mass movement that has been doing rather well lately. They and other branches of the Muslim Brotherhood will certainly play a major and predemoninantly positive role in the democratic change in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, just as their counterpart in Iraq is in the democratic government there and like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

They are clearly oriented towards winning, not whining.

 • Re: GAZA

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-07-01 07:11 PM

Comrade Arthur,

I think we can all agree that a 2.5 or 3 state solution is a non-starter.

But,  are you saying that its 'silly' to even discuss the possibility of a one-state solution? In the last 40 years everyone has been looking for a two state solution. If one existed, wouldn't it have been found by now?