One of the most shameful and least discussed facets of Middle East politics is the willingness of Arab rulers to sell out the Palestinians for wealth and personal power.
In 1946 – 47, during the run-up to the Great Zionist Dispossession, King Abdullah I of Transjordan eyed control over the eastern part of Mandate Palestine, and so didn’t oppose the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state. Abdullah placed himself at odds with every other Arab leader except King ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, who was firmly in the pocket of U.S. oil interests and willing to support any position that would enhance his ego and bank account.
When Israel declared “statehood” in 1948, Abdullah was pressured into joining the pan-Arab military intervention, but even at that he arranged a secret deal with David ben Gurion not to attack on the Jewish side of the partition. For his treachery, Abdullah was assassinated by a Palestinian on July 20, 1951, during a visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque in al Quds. Ben Gurion’s reaction to the assassination, as described by Avi Shlaim , is most instructive for understanding the internecine conflict between Fatah and Hamas:
“The assassination of Abdullah in 1951 convinced Ben Gurion of the fact that the Arab states would need to be ‘deterred, coerced, and intimidated’ into peace. Consequently, Israel pursued disproportionately aggressive policies, particularly in response to numerous border clashes and incidents. Israel militarized the demilitarized zones (DMZs) along the Syrian border, ignoring UN protests about this infraction. As with Jordan, Israel also threw away a peace with Syria.”
Translation: If Israel cannot have its puppets, then the Arabs will suffer. No expression of Arab political independence can be tolerated, because Arabs are not deemed to have rights. Arab regimes, have only one choice–”accept Israeli hegemony and not oppose the creeping theft of Palestine and terrorism against its people. To oppose Israel is to invite aggression.
Today, the new face of Palestinian betrayal is Mahmoud Abbas, the very model of the acceptable, servile “moderate” Arab who wants to work for peace [sic]. As I’ve written previously, Abbas earned a reputation as an Israeli stooge during the Oslo negotiations:
“In October 1995, he and Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin hammered out a secret final solution to the question of Palestinian statehood and Israeli ‘security.’ Their private agreement would have allowed Israel to maintain military forces in the Jordan Valley and dishonestly rename Abu Dis as ‘Al Quds’ (Jerusalem) thereby completing the theft of the entire city. (In the 1947 ‘Partition Plan,’ which the UN Security Council never passed, none of Jerusalem lay within ‘Israel.’)”
Soon after the Palestinian authority was established in Gaza, construction on Abbas’s $1.5 million villa began. The sight of such opulence amid such poverty can only add to the impression of Abbas as the prize whore in the zionist brothel.
The corruption of Abbas and his Fatah Party is not lost on Palestinian voters, who rejected Fatah for the more militant Hamas Party in the January 2006 election. The vote was fair and reflected the will of the Palestinian people, which of course is irrelevant. Israel declared that it would not deal with a Hamas government nor any coalition government that had even one Hamas member.
Thus for the last year and a half Israel and its compliant Western governments have visited “deterrence, coercion, and intimidation” on people whose only crime was that they exercised their right to vote. Robert Fisk neatly summed up our hypocrisy on June 16:
“Palestinians wanted an end to corruption –the cancer of the Arab world–and so they voted for Hamas and thus we, the all-wise, all-good West, decided to sanction them and starve them and bully them for exercising their free vote.”
In the Gaza Strip, 1.4 million people are crowded into 140 square miles; more than 60 percent of the people live below the poverty line; and malnutrition of children under 5 rivals that of sub-Saharan Africa. No commerce is possible because harassment posts (“checkpoints”) designed to make life as miserable as possible.
The region has rightly been likened to an open-air prison, since Israel controls every aspect of life, if you can call it that. Gazans have no freedom of movement, no security and no viable economy. Given this deliberately perpetuated daily misery, the act of ostracizing the duly elected government of Palestine and cutting off financial aid could only exacerbate tensions between Fatah and Hamas and radicalize the population even further.
The internecine Palestinian struggle is simply the desired result of applying ben Gurion’s policy of “deterrence, coercion, and intimidation” to Arabs who stand up for themselves. Of course, this is not how our media portray it. Typical is the June 15 Globe and Mail editorial “The hopes lost in Gaza’s fighting,” which began:
“The Palestinian dream of an independent state centred in the West Bank and Gaza is in tatters. The escalating bloodshed between the secular Fatah and the Islamist Hamas, the two groups in the unity government, has solidified the power of Hamas in Gaza and raised the spectre of a people divided into two lands under separate governments–”a division that invites more violence, and perhaps civil war. And the Palestinian leaders have only themselves to blame.”
Note the bias in the designation of Hamas as “Islamist” (a nonsense term) and Fatah as “secular.” Fisk noted that Palestinians voted for Hamas not because it was Islamic but because it was seen as more honest than Fatah.
“Only having themselves to blame,” has become the mantra of zionist spokesmen to disguise Israel’s responsibility. (Lamentably, the CBC interviewed two zionists on the morning of June 18 and not once was the occupation brought up!)
So far, 616 Palestinians have died in factional strife since the January 2006 election, according to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights. Rights?! Well, according to Section III of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel (as the occupying power) has a legal obligation to ensure the welfare and security of those under occupation (Palestinians). For example, Article 55 states:
“To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”
Israel, which has no legitimate say in Gaza’s affairs, has reacted in typical fashion to Hamas’s overthrow of the Fatah government. Knesset member Effie Eitam believes Israel should renounce its responsibility to supply food and infrastructure over three to six months and put the onus on Egypt!
That’s not fast enough for MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) who wants food, water and electricity cut off immediately. Israeli politicians openly advocate starving the Gaza Strip and renouncing Israel’s humanitarian obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and all we do is say that Palestinians brought it on themselves.
None of this misery would be happening if Israel recognized Palestine’s right to exist, but it’s not in the nature of a criminal to respect the rights of his victims, which means the slow tortured death of Palestine will continue and we will say nothing.
My book The Host and the Parasite – How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America is now available from Dandelion Books ($US30, 532 pages, incl. footnotes).
For Canadian orders or for a signed copy please refer to the address on my website GregFelton.com