Wednesday, February 01, 2006

article on elections

Wednesday, 1st February

the future is all blurred and as the author says, it seems that nobody really knows what to do. but i am not too optimistic for the months to come. it will take time to Hamas and Fateh to adjust to the new realities. I have no doubt that Hamas cannot accept to disarm in the near future. But leaders of Hamas are pragmatic and they have the power to impose a cease-fire, at least to his members but what about the other groups? Yesterday again one leader from Jihad Islamic in Jenine was killed by the Israeli army. In response Islamic Jihad called for revenge and told that the truce has been blown up. I expect some operations in Israel to be conducted soon, and the retaliation will be certainly hard. The Israeli governement again will say that there is no possible negociations in that context, while Palestinians might turn to a stronger armed resistance.
For the time being it is calm in Ramallah, but not in the North of the West Bank where military operations combined with a harsh policy of closures and checkpoints continue. In Gaza the karni checkpoint has been closed- no goods, no medecine, can get in and out. The construction of the Wall has been speeded up. while some settlers are removed from the Hebron vegetable market and in an outpost north of the west bank, the colonization continues in other parts. The Palestinians have waited for the last ten years the fulfilment of promises of a two state solution. The promises, made by their own leaders, the Israeli government and the international community have failed to materialize to believe in that process.
Now their patience has come to an end, and frankly i cannot see how we can blame them.

Find below a good analysis from the guardian.

Jonathan Freedland
Wednesday February 1, 2006
The Guardian

In this new landscape, everyone is in the dark. After Hamas won an enormous victory that shocked even them, all the players in the Middle East conflict are stumbling around, unsure how to negotiate the new terrain. No one knows quite what to do.
Proof of that came from Monday's statement of the Quartet of world powers who preside over what is still laughably referred to as the Middle East peace process. Translated, the diplomatese boiled down to a plea for time. Everyone wants a pause for breath, to see what happens in the Israeli elections on March 28, to see what Hamas does with its parliamentary majority. Hamas are not exactly in a hurry to start governing either: they anticipated (maybe even wanted) to form a large opposition bloc rather than be given the hospital pass of actually administering the Palestinian Authority. To have responsibility for daily Palestinian life yet, because under Israeli occupation, little power to do the job is a thankless, if not impossible, task. Hamas are talking of a "period of transition"; they moot a coalition with Fatah, the party they defeated. They too crave delay.

This stunned paralysis on all sides is down to more than just the shock of the new. It's also a function of the fact that there seem to be no good options, for anybody. Imagine a chess game in which every possible path is blocked: the players stare at their pieces, bite their nails and see only stalemate.

Take President Bush. If he recognises Hamas, he flatly contradicts his global war on terror - since both the US and EU have long branded Hamas a terrorist organisation. But if he doesn't recognise Hamas, he flatly contradicts his global campaign for democracy - since Hamas just won a clear majority in precisely the kind of free election Bush demands for the whole Arab world. He either, by his own logic, legitimates terror or he admits that he is offering only a Henry Ford kind of democracy: you can have whatever colour car you like - so long as it's black.

Europe is in a spot that is not much better. It can't keep up its financial aid, because that would be giving money to a terrorist organisation. But if it turns off the EU tap, Palestinian life will deteriorate even further. Perhaps pro-western Arab states, such as Egypt and Jordan, might fill the financial vacuum - but what if Syria and Iran get there first?

In this atmosphere of frozen confusion, people are clutching at past experience to see what lessons that might teach. In a round of conversations this week with those involved - including a senior figure in Hamas - everyone has come up with their own historical parallel.

First up has been the direct comparison of Hamas today with the PLO of three decades ago. They too were diplomatically shunned as a terror organisation that refused to recognise Israel. In reality, the PLO was on a journey that would culminate in the 1988 acceptance of Israel alongside a Palestinian state, eventual negotiations and the Oslo accords five years later. "Give them time," one veteran Palestinian negotiator told me yesterday. "It took us 40 years to reach that position."

You can see this parallel as either cheery or gloomy. Optimists will be heartened by Hamas's clear declarations that they are ready to accept a state on the post-1967 territories, if not as a final settlement then as a long-term interim solution. If they are willing to negotiate on that basis, there would be a great advantage: unlike the Fatah suits, they would command the backing of the Palestinian street for any peace deal they might sign.

Or the pessimist might marvel that, after 30 years of tears and bloodshed, we are right back where we were. We will have to go through the same old dance all over again: coded statements from the Palestinian side, tentative back channels from the Israelis, nudging from Washington, years of diplomacy - and just to get to the point that could and should have been reached in 1993.

Israelis in particular should be ruing their country's failure to seize the opportunity the first time around. They had, in Fatah and the PLO, a Palestinian leadership who had already made this long journey; but instead of stretching every sinew to make the 1993 accommodation work, Israel undermined it at every turn. It carried on building the settlements; it kept up the checkpoints, curfews and land confiscations. In the past year it has made the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the rest of the Fatah leadership look as if they had been duped. The message Israel sent to the Palestinian electorate was stark: peacemaking and moderation do not work. The Palestinians heard it loud and clear - and voted for Hamas. Pessimists will say it could take another decade or more for Hamas to go through the Fatah process. If and when they do, will Israel miss the opportunity again?

The second favoured parallel of the hour is with Northern Ireland, with Hamas in the role of Sinn Féin and the IRA. This comparison could be useful, if only for those Middle England audiences of Question Time and Any Questions who last week seemed outraged that Israel was not rushing into a warm embrace with Hamas. They might recall how unwilling the British public were to deal with republicans when the IRA were still fully engaged in armed struggle. Gerry Adams could rack up as many votes as he liked in West Belfast, it made no difference: Brits weren't allowed to hear his voice, let alone speak with him. We should bear that in mind next time we instruct foreigners to talk to people they regard as terrorists.

The trouble with the Northern Ireland comparison is that today's republicans have renounced violence and are nearly a decade into a ceasefire - and still unionism's biggest party won't talk to them. On that scale, an Israeli accord with Hamas is years away. I was also told yesterday that Hamas will never, ever disarm: "The legitimacy of their resistance is embedded too deep in Palestinian society." If decommissioning held back peace in Ulster for 10 years, what hope for Israel-Palestine?

No, the more likely future is one of what the Palestinian analyst and sometime negotiator Ahmad Khalidi calls "parallel unilateralism": each side will make their own moves, independent of the other. That will suit Israel, which has long insisted that "there is no partner" on the Palestinian side: if they could say that of the compliant Mahmoud Abbas, they won't soften for Hamas. Assuming Ehud Olmert wins in March, and is strong enough, he will continue Ariel Sharon's work - and stage further unilateral pullouts from the West Bank.

That will leave Hamas to make solo moves of its own. They might simply implement their key election promises: to clean out corruption, to extend their health and education services, to improve Palestinian daily life. Or, to put it more grandly, they might engage in state-building. Which brings us to perhaps the unlikeliest historic parallel of all. Hamas's best bet might be to learn not from Fatah or the IRA, but from the early Zionist movement. Living under colonial military rule from the 1920s to the 1940s, it focused its energies on building the institutions of statehood: schools, bureaucracy, even an embryonic national health service. When independence came in 1948 they were ready. Israeli rule is not the British mandate, I know. But there is a lesson there all the same - and Hamas would make a revolution by seizing on it.


  1. about 10 years the Ira said not a built not a ounce. But they reliented and did decommision weapons. Also form Sinn Fein Director of communication Danny Morrison famously said their policy was an armalite in one hand and the ballot box in the other.

    But they changed there policy on both.

    So hamas doing the same is not beyond the the relms of possiblity.

  2. We will see. Hamas is also a pragmatic movement and are capable of imposing ceasefire to their militants. For IRA the problem is that even if they laid down their weapons the party of the protestants would not talk to them.
    Hamas clearly will no disarm as long as Israel militarily occupies the Palestinian territories. Hamas'position will be also reacting to Israel's policy and I do not see any change coming up to this regard. Anne P.