Palestinian Liberation Requires Unity - by Stephen Lendman
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi wants EU help to end Israel's occupation. She said America's preoccupied with elections and grossly biased for Israel.
Calling the current situation "dangerous" she said Israel's "dragging the region into the abyss." As a result, urgent EU help is needed "to end the occupation."
EU nations know their obligations under international law, including Geneva's Common Article 1. Requiring all nations enforce them, it states:
"The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances."
Moreover, Lisbon Treaty (December 2009) principles require EU nations affirm fundamental freedoms, peace, democracy, human rights and dignity, justice, equality, the rule of law, security, tolerance, solidarity, mutual respect among peoples, the rights of the child, strict adherence to the UN Charter and international law, environmental protection, and sustainable development.
They also mandate preventing conflicts and combatting social exclusion and discrimination.
So far, EU nations, like America, provide one-sided support for Israel. Palestinians must rely on their own will as one people united for liberation in peace.
On January 8, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh addressed a cheering Tunisia crowd, saying Israel faces tough times ahead. Bullying costs it allies. Revolutionary dignity and pride have arrived.
"We promise that we will not cede a single part of Palestine. We will not cede Jerusalem. We will continue to fight and we will not lay down our arms."
"To Tunisia we say: It is us today who are going to build the new Middle East."
Hamas wages nonviolent struggle. It responds defensively after repeated Israeli attacks. Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party organized the rally. Around 5,000 attended. They walked over a cloth displaying Israel's Star of David and shouted anti-Israeli slogans. Across the region, justifiable anti-Israeli street sentiment is strong.
On January 9, Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Khaled Mashal called for Palestinian unity, saying:
"Our country is more important than partisan interest. We need a transitional period. We hope it will not be long until we can cooperate."
"The enemy proved to be criminal and it will not give us our rights unless we make a perfect strategy. We have to mobilize our diplomacy, media and resistance to get more international compassion, political support and emphasis on unity."
"We have a fateful battle today. We are facing an enemy which fortifies its attack on us and on our land, and continues Judaizing and stealing our lands. It refuses to give us back our rights and denies them. It leaves us no choice, and the world is not doing us justice and is watching the situation silently and helplessly."
Calling people power "huge," he said resistance is right as long as occupation continues.
Israel talks peace and perpetuates conflict. It persists daily. On January 10, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered Gaza guns blazing. No casualties were reported.
An army spokesman called it "routine activity." He's right. Virtually every day, it persists lawlessly.
On the same day, soldiers assaulted towns and villages near Jenin. Tear gas, concussion grenades and live fire were used. Medical workers said dozens were injured. Civilians were terrorized, including women and children. The incident followed similar assaults on three previous consecutive days.
In the past week, Palestinian fishermen were violently assaulted. Seven were arrested, their boats confiscated. Incidents like this happen regularly. Gazans in their own waters aren't safe.
They're attacked, arrested, and prevented from fishing legally. On January 7, four fishermen were interdicted. They were fired on, forced to undress, and swim to a nearby gunboat in frigid waters. They were taken to Ashdod, blindfolded, handcuffed and questioned.
Earlier on December 29, three others were assaulted, arrested and terrorized. Khan Yunis fisherman Nabeel Ahmed Mahmoud al-Henawwi said he and two others were forced to stay in frigid waters for 20 minutes. Extreme cold affected them.
Since 2000, Israel denied Gazans the right to sail and fish freely. Oslo permits them within 20 nautical miles. Israel arbitrarily reduced it to 12, then six, then three, and for those interdicted, zero. As a result, fishermen lost 85% of their livelihoods. Those whose boats were confiscated lost everything.
Last April, Hamas and Fatah leaders proclaimed unity. Palestinians hoped it signaled rapprochement.
They agreed to transitional governance ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections within a year. Currently they're scheduled for May. Once held, both sides will join the PLO as Palestine's legitimate representative.
Nonetheless, elements in both camps oppose reconciliation. On January 6, Abbas security adviser Ismail Jaber said Fatah representatives were denied entry to Gaza. In response, Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein denied the allegation, saying:
"What happened is that they refused to wait a short period of time while the security forces at the checkpoint contacted their superiors. The wait did not last more than 10 minutes. We don't prevent anyone from entering."
Nonetheless, Abbas said he'll reassess reconciliation. Washington and Israel pressure him relentlessly drop it. Hamas accused him of abandoning unity for Israel.
In early January, preliminary peace talks were held in Jordan. On January 9, they resumed for a second time. Another meeting's scheduled for late January. Netanyahu insists Abbas abandon unity and statehood aspirations. Fatah wants settlement construction stopped.
Few details are known. However, an unnamed PA representative said no progress was made. Palestinians responded to Israel's 22-article document given them after two days of talks.
Among other issues, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, security arrangements and water were covered. Fatah called the document ambiguously general. An unnamed Palestinian source said Abbas doesn't think real negotiations will follow.
On January 9, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar accused Abbas of choosing Israel over unity and reconciliation, saying:
"The changing factors around us are in our favor," not Fatah's. It's their choice now. "If Fatah wants (unity) accomplished, we will be ready. It they do not, then we are sitting here and the future is ours."
"What is coming is a thousand times better than in the past." It includes "the liberation of (Palestine) and the return of" refugees."
He and other Hamas leaders warned against talks with Israel. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called them "a repetition of a track that had failed over the past years." Others accused Abbas of bowing to Washington and Israeli pressure at the expense of Palestinian liberation and popular rejections of a policy sure to fail.
Political prisoner Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is Palestine's most esteemed figure. He called pursuing talks with Israel useless. In a letter he said, "there is no point to make desperate attempts to breathe life into a dead body."
He urged popular resistance instead. So do others with growing support on their side.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leaders warned against futile talks, calling them a "grave political mistake." They also called on Abbas to focus on reconciliation and unity.
Meeting with Israel futilely "poison(s) the atmosphere for reconciliation efforts," said senior PFLP leader Kayid Al-Ghoul. Pursuing them "to explore Israel's attitudes is a witless and misleading justification."
"Israel's attitudes are clearly announced and well-known, and such meetings just give the Israeli government more time to avoid international pressure because of the obstacles it is creating on the ground."
Palestinian hopes for liberation and peace remain distant but achievable. Unity and resistance are key for progress.
Palestine's rising. Israel makes more enemies than friends. A threshold of no return awaits to be crossed. Palestinian patience will pay off.
A Final Comment
Extremist settlers pose other risks. On January 9, Haaretz writer Amos Harel headlined, "Right-wing extremists' growing influence on the West Bank is worrisome," saying:
On January 8, Israel "exposed problems it faces defending classified information against encroachments perpetrated by the political right." It's well known that "sensitive IDF information is readily available to West Bank settlers...."
It's worrisome in hands of extremist ones. They're to use it to commit violence, including against soldiers sent to evacuate illegal outposts. Settler ideologues have close contacts with like-minded IDF sources.
General Nitzan Alon, Israel's designated central region commander, wants ideologically affiliated soldiers denied information about planned outposts evacuations. Right-wing MKs also provide it.
Likud MK/coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin admitted it. So did National Union (NU) MK Uri Ariel. NU's extremely militant, especially on settlements in all biblically defined Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). It advocates efforts to expel all Palestinians.
Settler ideologues attack them with impunity. They block roads, stone cars and homes, torch fields, uproot trees and other crops, and commit other forms of vandalism and violence, including murder. Since September 2000, 50 Palestinians were killed. Since December 1987 (the first Intifada's onset), it's 115, besides many more injured, including children.
They also torch mosques, eight since 2008. On December 15, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) "condemn(ed), in the strongest terms, the criminal arson attack on two mosques" in West Jerusalem and Burqa village near Ramallah.
It said the IDF supports, protects, and encourages their rampages. Prosecutions don't follow. Frequent incidents "occur systematically alongside IDF violence." Palestinians pay the price.
Settlers get carte blanche freedom to commit violence with impunity.
Imagine if rogue gangs and police colluded in US cities to commit similar offenses. Targeted groups would know what Palestinians face daily.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.