FRFI 173 June / July 2003

New Ministers: Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan

The imperialist media have portrayed the new PA government of Mahmoud Abbas as one which is cleaner and more democratic than its predecessors. Yet, as we wrote in FRFI 172, Abbas himself is well known for being on the take. When it came to the dispute between Abbas and Arafat about the appointment of Mohammed Dahlan as PA interior minister, an argument that threatened to scupper Abbas’ chance of forming a government, the imperialists weighed in on the side of Abbas and Dahlan. Dahlan, however, has a past as murky as that of Abbas.

Back in 1996, David Hirst writing for The Guardian, cited a Palestinian official who said that the Israelis had penetrated so deeply into the Palestinian security forces that ‘some of its leaders depend on them at least as much as they do on Arafat’, and that they could be used
to displace Arafat in the future. According to the official, ‘The Israelis are grooming Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nom de guerre], one of the secret negotiators of the Oslo accord, to take Mr Arafat’s place, and they will count on Mohammed Dahlan, head of Preventive Security in Gaza, to lead the putsch’.

Seven years later, not only were the imperialists able to install Abbas as prime minister, but the EU and Tony Blair told Arafat he would have to accept Dalhan as interior minister.

In his 1999 book The End of the Peace Process Edward Said describes Abbas ‘as a catastrophically uninformed and ignorant man willing to give everything up just to stay in power’. Said also recounts his visit to the West Bank in mid-November 1998 which coincided with Sharon’s infamous statement urging settlers to take as many hills as possible, as soon as possible, commenting that ‘Abu Mazen, one of Arafat’s numerous number twos, says that Ariel Sharon is no longer the same man who invaded Lebanon, laid siege to Beirut for two months, bombed the city indiscriminately, was responsible for Sabra and Shatila, is the settler’s main backer. I was surprised that Abu Mazen didn’t also defend General Pinochet on the same grounds.’

Dahlan has been recently lauded in The New York Times as a ‘tough Gazan’ who has urged Arafat to crack down on the resistance, and who ‘has often dealt with Israeli and American officials who hold him in high respect’. Like Abbas, he too built himself a villa in Gaza, one so lavish that it began to sink into the sand and had to be propped up with special supports. Dahlan’s wealth came from his monopoly of the import of petrol into the Gaza and the inflated prices he charged. His Preventive Security Service spent much of their time protecting Israeli tankers. His forces were responsible for the arbitrary detention and torture of opponents of the Oslo agreements; in November 1994 the Gazan police force were responsible for murdering 13 Islamists on Black Friday.

Bedouin: more ethnic cleansing by the Zionists

It is not just the people of the Occupied Territories who are subject to racist attacks by the Zionists. A recent article by Jonathan Cook chronicles the attacks on the Bedouin who are now subject to a renewed campaign of ethnic cleansing, specifically those who live in the Negev in the south of Israel. In 1948, the Bedouin were the only Negev inhabitants. Now, as a result of systematic cleansing, the 130,000 Bedouin occupy just 2% of the land. Half of them have been herded into ghetto reservations.

In April, the Sharon government approved a five-year $200m plan to cleanse the remaining land of those who have illegally returned to their farms to eke out an adequate living. ‘We see this plan as a declaration of war on the Bedouin community of the unrecognised villages’ said a Bedouin leader.

A key component is a reinforcement of the Green Patrols which are supposed to prevent illegal Bedouin farming, and a tightening of the planning and construction ordinances which are crucial to dispossessing them. New laws of trespass against the 70,000 Bedouin in 45 unrecognised villages will criminalise them with fines and six months in gaol on a first offence, two years on a subsequent one.

They will all be transferred into three new villages freeing up land for the settlement of 350,000 Zionists which is being financed by the World Zionist Organisation. As part of the ethnic cleansing effort, helicopters have twice used chemical sprays on crops at the village of Abda, the first time on 4 March, the second on 2 April.

Boycott M&S – don't listen to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign leadership!

In September 2002, 50,000 marched through the centre of London in support of the Palestinian people. On 17 May, only a few thousand turned out for a rally in Trafalgar Square called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The leadership of the PSC is drawn from the same Labourist circles as that of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and, in an earlier period, the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

PSC Secretary Betty Hunter is on record as proposing to the PSC national aggregate that the campaign should support the Bush roadmap as ‘the only show in town’.

At a recent meeting in Liverpool her colleague, Linda Clair, specifically opposed the Marks and Spencer boycott campaign, saying that it was alright to shop at M&S provided you did not buy Israeli goods. Her appeal to M&S shoppers was a succinct expression of her class alle-
giances. Such leaders are a complete disaster for the movement: they are concerned only with their narrow privileged interests.

FRFI urges those who want to do something effective to get out to picket M&S and reject the advice of the PSC misleaders!

sponsors of Zionism

Join FRFI pickets
outside M&S stores in Manchester, Leicester and London

Boycott Israeli goods

For further details on the campaign phone 020 7837 1688 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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