Palestine: Abbas acts for imperialism

In the run-up to the US-organised Middle East Peace Conference in Annapolis at the end of November, the open collaboration between Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and his Fatah-dominated government with Israel and the forces of imperialism continues to gather momentum. BOB SHEPHERD reports.

In the West Bank the PA government has signed up to a US-funded ‘security plan’ centred on Nablus, which has as its aim the disarming and dismantling of all the resistance forces there. In a speech marking Palestine National Day on 15 November, Abbas called for the toppling of the Hamas government in Gaza. This effectively gives the green light to an Israeli invasion of Gaza as they are the only military force capable of answering Abbas’s call. On 23 November, the Arab League lent a spurious credibility to the Annapolis conference by agreeing to send representatives.

In October, Saeb Erekat, a Fatah leader and PLO chief negotiator in the meetings between Israel and the PA in the run up to Annapolis, stated that the joint meetings would draw up a document that would focus on solving the issues of Jerusalem, the borders, settlements, security, water resources and refugees. This document, he said, would be the starting point for the summit. However, both Erekat and the Fatah leadership know very well that Annapolis offers no resolution to any of these issues – not in the interests of the Palestinian masses anyway – but they need to create the illusion that the Fatah leadership is setting the agenda for the summit. Erekat cynically called on the Middle East Quartet (UN, EU, US and Russia) to implement Bush’s Roadmap for Peace, specifically Phase 1 which prohibits Israeli colonial settlement expansion. Erekat didn’t mention that the bulk of Phase 1 deals with Israeli security and calls on ‘Palestinians and Israelis to resume security co-operation...to end violence, terrorism and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services’ and for PA security forces to ‘begin sustained, targeted and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure’. For imperialism the main issue is the destruction of Palestinian resistance, and the collaboration of the Fatah leadership is crucial for its success.

In July, Tony Blair was appointed the Quartet’s special representative with a mandate to help the Palestinians develop their institutions and economy. He has put forward a plan which says that unless the PA security forces take severe action against the resistance in the West Bank there is no chance for a settlement. What he means is that the interests of imperialism in the region cannot be guaranteed without the defeat of the Palestinians. Blair proposes a tripartite security council with himself, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud to oversee the implementation of the plan. This proposal will certainly be one of the starting points for discussion at Annapolis.

Meanwhile the first steps have been taken. Under the direction of General Keith Dayton, US security advisor in the PA, and with Israeli support, the PA deployed 300 members of its security forces into Nablus at the beginning of November with the sole aim of confronting the resistance. Nablus and its neighbourhood have been the focus of armed resistance to Israel in the West Bank, and the area was deliberately chosen for this confrontation. On 14 November the US Consul General Jacob Walles, in Nablus with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, announced that the US government was granting $1.3m in aid to the city. He added that Bush would be asking the US Congress for a further $375m aid for the PA. The same day the Governor of the Nablus area issued a statement in which he threatened to crush Hamas in Nablus and the West Bank. On the morning of 15 November, 17 PA police vehicles passed unhindered through Israeli checkpoints on their way to the village of Aseera Al-Shamaleyya, north of Nablus, where they arrested 22 people accused of being Hamas supporters. Hamas condemned the arrests as the ‘practical translation of the roadmap plan on the ground’. Hamas also deplored the ‘inexplicable’ silence on the part of other Palestinian resistance factions about the ‘unjustifiable’ arrests.

On 18 November the PA Interior Minister Al Yahya pledged to disband all resistance factions, saying that the seven years of the armed Intifada had been ‘disastrous’ for the Palestinians; the same day PA security forces entered the Ein Beit El-Ma refugee camp, also near Nablus, in an attempt to arrest PFLP activists charged with illegally firing their guns in the air at the funeral of a fallen comrade. Three days later the Israelis agreed to allow 25 Russian-made armoured cars through its checkpoints for use by the PA in Nablus, saying that it would allow a further 25 through if there was significant progress in defeating the resistance.

In Gaza the Fatah leadership continues its attempts to destabilise the Hamas government. At the beginning of October, their contra forces began a series of armed attacks on Hamas. On 2 October they attempted to blow up the Gaza City police headquarters. However, the bomb exploded prematurely, killing three Fatah members and an innocent bystander. Three days later, a hand grenade was thrown at a police vehicle in the city, a bomb was set off at the home of a Hamas leader in Khan Younis and another bomb exploded outside the Rafah Municipality building. This last attack was linked to the campaign the Municipality is waging to restore land stolen by Fatah gangsters to public ownership. Gaza Fatah leader Zakaria Al Agha issued a statement in which he ‘justified and understood’ the bombings.

This climate of Fatah provocation and destabilisation lay behind the tragic deaths of seven people shot by Hamas security forces at a Fatah-organised commemoration rally for Yasser Arafat in Gaza City on 12 November. Abbas used this event to urge in a televised speech on Palestinian National Day that ‘we must topple the junta who took control of the Gaza Strip by force’. His speech has given a green light to the Zionists to invade Gaza and topple Hamas since they are the only ones who could do so. Hamas leader Yehia Moussa, responded that this would be ‘a proxy war that seeks...not only to get rid of Hamas but to create an appropriate political environment that would allow Abu Mazen [Abbas] to offer additional concessions’.

US imperialism is attempting to force the pace of Palestinian concessions, with Bush saying he wants a settlement in the next year. Now that the Arab League has agreed to send a ministerial representative supported by representation from Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the imperialists hope that there is sufficient momentum to once and for all destroy the Palestinian liberation struggle. They cannot be allowed to succeed.

 FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008

 

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