The United States and Israel have finally agreed on a plan to resolve the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel will continue lobbing missiles into civilian areas of Gaza and the West Bank while the US cuts off food and other vital aid to the territories. That way they can maximize the human suffering while preparing the Palestinian people for a violent death.
This is not what Palestinians bargained for when they accepted the western-model of democracy.
The Road Map has become a cul-de-sac of aggression, subjugation and outright murder.
I wonder how many Palestinians would have stayed home if they knew how they’d be treated for voting for the party of their choice?
Presently, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are experiencing what United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) John Ging calls, “the countdown to a humanitarian crisis.” The blocking of food and money has triggered a disaster that grows more serious by the day. According to a document produced by the EU, the emergency in the territories could deepen in the next few months leading to “greatly increased unemployment and poverty levels, and possibly the breakdown of law and order.” The unfolding tragedy has been widely condemned as a form of collective punishment, which is banned under the Geneva Conventions. Even the World Bank has added its voice to the chorus of critics saying that, “it underestimated the depth of the Palestinian crisis” and warned that the present situation could “render the West Bank and Gaza ungovernable.”
Is that what Washington and Tel Aviv want?
In a recent article, “Punishing the Innocent is a Crime” former President Jimmie Carter said, “Overwhelmingly (the victims) are school teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, farm families, who are just hoping for a better life.”
They voted for the wrong party, the party that will not fulfill its primary obligation to act as Israel’s security apparatus in the territories.
Americans won’t believe this, but the vote for Hamas was actually a vote for peace. Palestinians were sick of the ineffectiveness and corruption of the PA and wanted a change. That certainly doesn’t imply they were offering their support for terrorism. Quite the contrary. As Carter notes, “Public opinion polls conducted after the January parliamentary election shows that 80% of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel based on the international road map premises.”
This is proof that the vast majority of Palestinians voted for the party that they believed would produce a negotiated settlement with Israel and resolve the conflict according to international agreements and UN resolutions.
Simply put, they want peace.
Nevertheless, Israel is doing everything in its power to destroy the newly elected government and create a catastrophe. In the last few weeks, there have been almost daily attacks on Gaza including a bombing raid on a soccer field which, according to the AP, “killed 5 Palestinians, including 4 in the same family.” The failed assassination attempt left body parts and pools of blood scattered across the playfield.
There appears to be a plan to use the violence directed against Palestinians as a means of provoking Hamas to break its year and a half-long truce. Then Israel will be free to crush the leadership in one fell swoop.
Hamas is being vilified for not “renouncing terrorism” and for “failing to recognize Israel.” Both charges are intentionally misleading and show how the language of the conflict has been fashioned to serve Israeli policy objectives. In fact, Hamas' goals are no different than those of the international community and articulated in countless UN resolutions.
Just recently, Hamas’ prime minister designate, Ismail Haniyeh, reaffirmed that he would recognize Israel if Israel conformed to UN Security Council resolution 242 which establishes the 1967 borders as the legitimate boundaries of the Israeli state. Israel, of course, rejects these boundaries as inconsistent with its dream of an expanded Israel on Palestinian land. Regardless, Hamas refusal to recognize Israel is nothing more than a demand that Israel accept UN resolutions.
The “renounce terrorism” charge is equally disingenuous. Hamas has maintained its “hudna” or cease-fire for the last 18 months even though Israel never suspended operations in the West Bank or Gaza. Hamas was not involved in the recent Tel Aviv suicide attack and may abandon violence altogether to pursue a political track. All the same, Hamas should not give up its right to resist occupation just to appease Israel. “Armed struggle” is enshrined in international law as a legitimate way to shake off military occupation. Haniyeh has neither the right nor the power to repeal that law.
Hamas is expected to accept the precedent that was set by Arafat in Oslo to “renounce all forms of terrorism.” Many political pundits in the western media are now saying that Hamas is refusing to respect the “restraints and decisions taken by previously elected parliaments” (Thomas Friedman)
But what’s all the fuss about? It was Ariel Sharon who announced the end of Oslo and then quickly consigned the Road Map to “formaldehyde”. Hamas rejection of these prior decisions is nothing more than tacit support for Sharon’s pronouncements. Even Tom Friedman can’t be too upset about that.
The real problem with Hamas is not terrorism, which only strengthens Israel’s presence in the territories, but that it will never be a trusted ally in subjugating its own people on Israel’s behalf. That is its unpardonable crime.
Israel has found a reliable friend in Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Karzai, who makes no demands on Israel and has done everything he can to obstruct the new government. If Abbas spent even half the time he devotes to scolding Hamas on pressuring Israel for a settlement, his party might still be in power. Instead, he has turned into a comical Israeli-stooge with more support in the Knesset than among his own countryman.
Israel may be able to pull off its latest coup and topple the Hamas government, but not without considerable risk. Currently, 165,000 PA employees have not received their salaries for weeks and Israel is withholding $300 million in revenue collected from Palestinian taxes. Food and supplies have been cut off as well as $200 million in charitable donations from Saudi Arabia and Iran. The US and Israel have unleashed a slow-motion famine to punish the Palestinian people and affect regime change in Ramallah.
PA finance minister Omar Abul Razeg summarized these developments in a recent Al Jazeera interview:
“There won’t just be a financial collapse. There will be chaos and violence all over the area. In short, not only Hamas will suffer, but everyone else as well . . . . Muslims around the world now view the United States as an evil power hell bent on tormenting Muslims.”
Food and medical supplies are not weapons to be used against civilians. This barbarous policy must stop.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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