Civil War breaks out in the Palestinian Territories

- Tim Bowron

from The Spark August 2007

Ever since Hamas swept to victory at the ballot box in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections - with the largest plurality of the popular vote and a majority of seats - Israel and the United States have been looking for ways to frustrate the democratically expressed will of the Palestinian people.

The first tactic of the Israelis and their Western allies was to cut off all aid (financial and logistical) to the Palestinian territories until Hamas agreed to renounce its policy of calling for the destruction of the Zionist state of Israel and the creation in its place of a single state of Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

A compromise was reached in March of this year when Hamas agreed to form a national unity government with the Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (which recognises the “legitimacy” of the Zionist state and no longer calls for the right of the 4 million Palestinian refugees created in the course of Israel’s establishment to return).

However it soon became clear that this state of affairs still did not satisfy either the Israeli government or the Bush administration, with US Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams overseeing an aggressive plan to arm and train Fatah members for the purpose of overthrowing the Hamas-led government.  This was made easier by the fact that the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority is controlled by President Abbas, not by the government.

In May-June this year there were a number of armed clashes between forces loyal to the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and the Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza, which ended with victory for the government forces.

In response, Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency and declared the Hamas-led national unity government “dissolved”.  This led to the emergence of two parallel Palestinian governments - the existing Hamas-led one in Gaza and a new Fatah-dominated one in the West Bank.

Scarcely concealing their jubilation at the increasing divisions among the Palestinian people, Israel and the US (together with the new Middle East “peace envoy” Tony Blair) have started to openly advocate a “three-state solution”, which would see the flow of international aid be redirected to the “emergency transitional” Fatah-led government in the West Bank and the possible handover of some Israeli settlements to Fatah, while Gaza would be left alone to starve in isolation.

The practical effect of this plan however would not be to free the Palestinians from decades of national oppression, but rather only to create two separate “Bantustans” or Palestinian reservations - a pro-Western client state in the West Bank and a small Hamas fiefdom in Gaza - alongside the existing state of Israel.

At the end of the day as long as the peoples of Palestine remain divided and under the rule of Western imperialism there can be no talk of justice or a lasting peace.

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