|Written by Gabriel Massa|
|Thursday, 23 June 2011 23:19|
|Israel celebrates the May 10th as their “independence” day. It is indeed the anniversary of Palestine partition into two states put in force in 1948 by the United Nations which was then dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union’s Stalinist regime. Undecided for the partition of Palestine into two states, giving 54% of its territory to Israel. At that time, more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands, after a murder onslaught, in which tens of villages and towns were destroyed by the Zionists’ on slaught.
Palestinian people recall these events as the Nakba1. Every year Palestinian organizations, inside and outside Israel, have summoned all Palestinians to commemorate the Nakba, “the day of the catastrophe”, through public demonstrations. This year, however, it was seen a huge quality improvement in the demonstrations. Thousands of Palestinians marched to the border of Israel in the Golan Heights, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and West Bank. The Israeli troops’ response was brutal, 21 Palestinians were killed and nearly 200 were wounded, according to figures from different news agencies.
A correspondent of the Argentinean “Clarin”, Shlomo Slutzky, wrote from TelAviv: “On the Lebanon border, Israeli troops fired against hundreds of Palestinian refugees who were trying to cross it. Ten protesters were killed and about one hundred were injured, according to Lebanese military sources.
At least four other Palestinians were killed when clashing the Israeli army on the border with Syria, after 30 to 50 people managed to penetrate in Israel territory and enter in Madja al-Shams village at the Golan Heights. Some witnesses spoke of up to ten killed in this incident and another in Gaza. At the closing of this edition, the death toll had reached 21.
For many Palestinians, the violent journey of yesterday was the ‘beginning of the third Intifada‘, while inJerusalem this was seen as a general rehearsal–unsuccessful a priori-for the events they will have to face as from the almost certain recognition, by UN, of the Palestinian state at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
The fact that hundreds of Palestinians and Syrians, armed only with stones, have been able to overthrow the fence of the Syrian border with the territory controlled by Israel on the Golan Heights since the 1967 war revives the most secret fears of Israeli security services: it is not Iranian atomic bomb, it is not thechemical or biological missiles launched from Syria nor the suicide bombers from Gaza. Israel’s fear is that a mass of unarmed demonstrators who advance to the borders of Israel from neighboring countries or who advance over the Israeli bases and settlements built on Palestinian land, in massive marches that Israel cannot disperse using tank shootings.
The Israeli authorities fear the imitation potential of the ‘success’ in Golan Heights by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who, as of next September will be backed by the international community when they try to march into the territories of ‘Palestinian state on 1967 borders’, as it would be recognized by the UN”.
Demonstrations were also held within the Zionist state. On May 10th, as it has been happening for 14 years, thousands of Palestinians participated in the so called “March of Return”, organized by the Committee for the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Israel, in the areas where there were two of the destroyed Palestinian villages, al-Damun and al-Ruwaysin northern Israel.
The demonstrations of March
The quality increase during the commemoration of the Nakba occurs after massive demonstrations held last March in the West Bank and Gaza. The main target of the protests at that time was to demand that the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank headed by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of the Islamic Hamas, which rules Gaza, end their fighting and be united in order to confront Israel.
The Londoner The Guardian reported on March 15: “Tens of thousands of people participated in the Gaza and West Bank demonstrations demanding an end to political divisions and the Israeli occupation. (…) The largest protests in the Palestinian territories since the uprisings began in the region, earlier this year, were summoned by grassroots activists through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The dominant political factions of Fatah and Hamas have authorized the marches, but many independent activists complained about the attempt by party leaders to control the protests in order to prevent an Egyptian-style revolt”.
These campaigns have paid off almost immediately: they forced the Fatah and Hamas leadership to reach an agreement, which came with the decision of the new Egyptian government to open its border with Gaza (closed by the Mubarak dictatorship in 2006, to collaborate with the Israeli blockade). These successes encouraged the advancement of Palestinian mobilization.
The”reconciliation” between Hamas andFatah
Under the supervision of the Egyptian transitional government, on May 4, the head of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, signed a “reconciliation agreement” in Cairo.
According to different sources, Hamas would accept that Abbas remains as chairman of the Palestinian Authority and continues negotiating security arrangements with Israel.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have been allied to Israel and the United States for years and have collaborated with the blockade and the Zionist attacks on the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas.Hamas, in turn, had been refusing the prospect of an “independent state” negotiated with Israel,the United States and Abbas and also denounced the Palestinian Authority for its accomplice role in the Gaza blockade together with the Egyptian dictatorship of Mubarak.
An important factor that promoted the “reconciliation” was undoubtedly the fall of Mubarak in Egypt along with the March demonstrations in Gaza and in the West Bank. Mubarak’s government was very important to support Abbas and Fatah leaderships’ decision to abandon any policy of confrontation and accept the peace negotiations with Israel and the United States. On the other hand, the blockade of Gaza by Israel would have been impossible if Mubarak had not kept closed Gaza’s border with Egypt.
However, in face of Mubarak’s fall, the new Egyptian government, despite having ratified the peace agreement with Israel and despite having supported a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, announced, in the end of April, that they would consider reopening its border with Gaza. Immediately after, the “reconciliation” meeting of Palestinian factions was held in Cairo.
In face of the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian factions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:“The Palestinian Authority must choose either the peace with Israel or peace with Hamas, there is no possibility of peace with both”.
The U.S. State Department, in turn, seemed to adopt a more cautious and more open attitude when declaring that “any future Palestinian government must promise to renounce violence, must promise to comply with the agreements made in the past and recognize Israel” (source: IPS).
An agreement to control the revolution
As we previously said, the “reconciliation” was received out loud and as a triumph by the Palestinian masses. And that, undoubtedly spurred the massive participation in the marches held on the borders with Israel in May.
At the same time, the agreement between Hamas and Fatah is highly contradictory. Noura Erakat, a Palestinian lawyer in exile, Professor at the Center of contemporary Arab studies at Georgetown University in Washington, and an important human rights activist, published a lengthy article on the site Jadaliyya.com on May 4, in which she says: “The reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah may represent the first victory of the nascent Palestinian youth movement of March 15”. But “it could be said that the formation of a unity government is a preventive tactic to quell the growing Palestinian discontent and the growing importance of the youth protests in an Arab Spring.
In fact, in the very day of the reconciliation announcement, Hamas security forces violently dispersed about a hundred joyful young people who celebrated in the Square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza.(…)Ibrahim Shikaki, a recent graduate of Berkeley, United States, and youth organizer who works in Ramallah, said that Hamas and Fatah tried to stop the organizers’ efforts, inhibiting media coverage, accusing the youth leaders of receiving funds from abroad and changing the focus of protests to the factional divisions, for fear of losing control of the power and authority‘. If so, the thawing of relations alone will not be able to contain the movement that is being born.”
Ali Abunimah, from the Palestinian Policy Network-an NGO based in the United States that promotes the unification of all forces in the PLO and the Palestinian Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel –published on May 9, an article entitled Empty Reconciliation in Palestine, which goes further in criticizing Hamas:“it is difficult to understand the Hamas’ leaders calculations: (…) Do they fear that Abbas’ offensive to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in September turned to be a weighty and sound subject from which they would be out? Do they recognize that the’peace process’ will not be successful, but hope to avoid being taken as the guilt ones, and in this way, inheriting the leadership of the Palestinian national movement from Fatah?
There is also too much speculation that the regional context- especially the uprising in Syria and the current instability in Iran –make the leaders of Hamas feel sufficiently concerned about their own situation to the point of running to embrace and legitimize Abbas (…).”
Ali Abunimah adds:“Being aware of it or not, Hamas maybe taking the same path as the Fatah faction of Abbas: commit to joining a ‘peace process‘ run by the U.S. on which the Palestinians have no influence and nor have the prospect of gaining their rights. In return, Hamas might expect to have a role together with Abbas to govern the Palestinians who are living under permanent Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. No matter if Hamas is aware of it or not, it has, indeed, entered a coalition with Abbas and Israel to administer the occupied territories where Hamas will have a high responsibility but scarce power (…).”
Even if it does not state it explicitly, this way leads Hamas to lose its last progressive element: its resistance to recognize Israel and its decision to continue the struggle for a Palestinian state in the entire territory of historic Palestine.
In short, the “reconciliation” between Hamas and Fatah stimulated the mobilization of the Palestinian masses. However, these leaders are transforming the agreement into an instrument for the Palestinians to accept something that ends up by being against their own interests.
In need of a new Palestinian leadership
We, from the Workers International League (IWL-FI), continue insisting that the only way to really defend the Palestinian people’s rights is the one that was scripted in the original flag of the PLO: the struggle for the destruction of Israel and the construction of a secular Palestinian state, democratic and non-racist in the entire Palestinian territory.
The youth who claimed for the unity of Fatah and Hamas has already become aware of the fact that these leaderships do not provide any reasonable solution and, instead, they only seek to deceive them and control them. To achieve its goals, the new generation of young and independent Palestinian activists who are now struggling under the influence of the Arab revolution will have to take into their own hands the old PLO flag. To do that, they will definitely need to build up a new leadership who will have to resume the path of uncompromising struggle for the Zionist state destruction and the construction of a secular Palestinian state in the whole area of Palestine, whose battle has been abandoned by both Hamas and Fatah. They will also have to fight against the lure, blessed by the U.S. and UN, i.e. a Palestinian pseudo-state in the occupied territories.
Within this perspective, we continue driving the worldwide campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, to which hundreds of Palestinian organizations and other countries have joined since 2005. Although it is limited in its objectives because it does not claim the destruction of Israel, this campaign has got very progressive goals, such as the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and an end to all Israeli aggression and the Gaza’s blockade.
Nakba Day – Yawm an-Nakbah, meaning “day of the catastrophe” – an annual day to remember the displacement of the Palestinian people that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.
Translation: Wilma Olmo Correa