The return of the Zionist entity
By Danny Rubinstein
The frantic activity and occasionally violent struggles among the Palestinian
factions concerning the formation of the new government should arouse concern
not only among the Palestinians but among us as well. In another year and a
half it will be 60 years since the establishment of the state, and after all
these years, the greatest controversy among the Palestinians is over
recognition of Israel.
The leaders of Hamas are not giving in. On the ideological plane they don't
see any possibility of recognizing the legitimacy of the existence of the
Jewish state in any part of Palestine. One could have expected that in the
West Bank and Gaza there would be a public campaign to pressure Hamas to
change its stance. That is not happening. In several public opinion surveys it
even seems that the opposite is true: Hamas continues to enjoy serious support
among the public, even on the issue of non-recognition of Israel.
At the end of last week, Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, the foreign minister of the Hamas
government, announced that the formation of the new government (the national
unity government of technocrats) has a clear aim, which is to remove the
economic siege on the Palestinian Authority. In other words, this is
ostensibly a technical matter. "And if the new government does not operate
according to the political program of Hamas, the Palestinian parliament will
bring it down," added Zahar.
Although PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is conducting negotiations with Hamas with
the support of almost the entire world, he is seen as a politically weak
figure. Instead of announcing the dispersal of the Hamas government and only
afterward beginning negotiations over a new government, he has put the cart
before the horse and is negotiating with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his
people over their resignations. A question being asked even by Abbas'
supporters is why Haniyeh and his friends should be cooperative interlocutors
in negotiations over their removal.
Nor are the chairman's demands of Hamas always clear. The guidelines of the
national unity government are based on the "prisoners' document," and do not
meet the three demands of Israel and the Quartet (recognition, an end to
violence and abiding by previous agreements).
Even the agreement of Abbas and Fatah to the appointment of Dr. Mohammed
Shabir, the former president of the Islamic University in Gaza, as prime
minister has not received final confirmation, and the general feeling is that
even if the desired national unity government is established, it will not last
for more than a few weeks or months.
Perhaps the most important reason for Abu Mazen's weakness is the lack of
broad support in the Palestinian street. This is not a personal matter. The
important point is that there is no broad support for his moderate views. In
spite of the growing distress in the territories, and particularly in Gaza,
the atmosphere among the Palestinians is only becoming more inflexible. This
can be seen in Palestinian spokesmen's use of expressions from the 1950s and
the 1960s. People, not just Hamas activists, never mention the word Israel;
they call it "the Zionist entity" or "the Zionist enemy," and sometimes "the
occupation government" and the "Tel Aviv government." Expressions such as "war
criminals" and "murderers" are heard daily.
We should not be surprised by that. Anyone who watches the Arab satellite
stations and reads the headlines in the Palestinian newspapers has for years
seen only pictures of the dead and wounded along with demolished houses. Not a
day passes without photographs of bereaved mothers and child amputees,
accompanied by the cries of bereaved parents and by mass demonstrations at
funerals for the fallen. The main stories every day in the Palestinian media
are about arrests and abuse, the theft of land and property, preventing the
sick and the elderly from crossing checkpoints, harassment at the checkpoints,
the expansion of the settlements and the Judaization of Jerusalem.
This is seen, heard and experienced personally every day by residents of the
West Bank and Gaza, and their recognition of the legitimacy of a state that
does these things is steadily declining.
(from firstname.lastname@example.org via oe)
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