Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Welcome Reconciliation

By Jody McIntyre
This commentary was published in The Independent on 28/04/2011
Divide and conquer. One of the oldest methods of colonialist powers.  Sow seeds of division amongst the people you are there to “civilise”, in order to weaken their resistance against your occupation of their land.
Since 2006, when democratic elections in Palestine led to the victory of Hamas, and the subsequent US-backed Fatah attempted coup to overthrow them, the two main Palestinian factions have been in conflict, with Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, who’s “authority” is questionable at best, taking control of the West Bank.  East Jerusalem, the capital of any future Palestinian state according to international law, and pre-1948 Palestine remain under Israeli occupation.
This week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed his position on the division between the two parties by saying, “The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.”  The Israeli government know that far more dangerous than Hamas, who they never miss an opportunity to denounce as a terrorist organisation bent on their destruction, whilst ignoring the fact that the State of Israel is based on wiping Palestine off the map, would be a unified Palestinian government capable of representing all of the Palestinian people; Palestinians living in Gaza, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, inside pre-1948 Palestine and the millions of refugees living across the world.
The US government, under the guise of peace-broker, continue to play the role of bank-roller to the Israeli state.  After claiming to support moves towards Palestinian reconciliation, a spokesman added, “Hamas, however, is a terrorist organisation which targets civilians.  Any Palestinian government must renounce violence and recognise Israel’s right to exist if it is to play a constructive role.”  Why is there no call for any Israeli government to renounce violence, and recognise Palestine’s right to exist?  The answer is simple; Israel is a colonialist state, backed with billions of US dollars every year.
The reconciliation between the two political factions will be welcomed by huge swathes of Palestinian society, however, it has come about after much pressure from below.  Recent demonstrations in Ramallah calling for unity were cracked down upon by Palestinian Authority security forces, who seem to act as secondary occupation-enforcer in the West Bank, whilst similar demonstrations in Gaza were also deemed unwelcome by Hamas security forces, who first attempted to co-opt the protests into support for themselves, and then opted for repression.
A Facebook group entitled “May 15 – Palestinian Third Intifada” was recently deleted by the website after attracting over 300,000 members, but you cannot delete an idea.  On May 15th, the date Palestinians commemorate as al-Nakba, or “the catastrophe”, to mark the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were expelled from their land in 1948, Palestinian youth organisations, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, have called for further demonstrations in an attempt to overcome the occupation of their land.  The future is in their hands, not in the hands of political leaders on either side of the divide.

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